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UAE and Dubai Visas

Saturday 01 November 2014 (UAE)   
 
   
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Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE visa requirements, work and employment entry permits

Important

See the UAE visa table for a list of new (and old) UAE visa types, or the list of possible Dubai visit visas. For visa and immigration questions, try calling the DNRD Amer service tel 800-5111 toll-free in the UAE.

Visa rules and requirements can and do change suddenly, and without warning. The UAE embassy in your country or the relevant authority in the UAE (DNRD in Dubai) is probably the only source of information you can rely on - even government websites can be slow to update. This page was last updated on 18-Aug-2014 but information here may not be complete or accurate. The validity period of the free visit visa on arrival seems to change irregularly - 30 days when new visa rules started 29 July 2008, up to 60 days sometime in August, back to 30 days in January 2009. Add a comment to the Dubai visit visa period topic.

How long a visa is valid for staying in the UAE is usually given in days. Some sources say months instead of days but be careful - 1 month is not the same as 30 days, 6 months is not the same as 180 days. Some visitors have found this out the hard way when leaving the UAE, getting a fine for overstaying by 2 or 3 days. Visit visas and entry permits, if not used to enter the UAE, usually expire 2 months after the date of issue (DNRD website says 2 months but to be safe, allow 60 days).

Countries whose citizens cannot obtain visas for the UAE

Important notes

  1. This list of countries is not from an official source, don't rely on it, treat it as guesswork on our part and confirm with an official source (this website, Wikipedia, internet forums and blogs, etc, are not official sources).
  2. Restrictions entry might only apply to visit or tourist visas, or for all types of visas.
  3. Visa restrictions might change suddenly and without any prior notification.
  4. Exceptions are possible.
  • Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Nepal, Pakistan (handwritten passports not accepted?), Somalia, Syria. Last checked 25 Jun 2013 with VFS Global Dubai Visa Processing Center.
  • Russia and CIS countries - mixed reports about single females, or females traveling alone even if married, who are under 25 or 30 years of age being unable to obtain visit visas or tourist visas for the UAE. Probably outdated information given the number of young single or solo females from those countries who do visit Dubai and the UAE, but rumours or stories persist. The IATA Travel Information Manual (April 2011) UAE section has a note (21) which says "No visa will be issued on arrival to female passengers under 30 years of age, being nationals of CIS countries", the grey area seems to be travellers with a copy of a pre-arranged visa who get the original visa on arrival - travel with the original visa to avoid problems.
03 January 2011 - Amer mobile visa service in Dubai (Gulf News)
  • The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai offers a mobile visa service to organisations and individuals.
  • Call 800-5111 (toll-free in UAE) to arrange for the visa people to come to you.
  • Additional fees payable (but not supplied).
  • Operating times 0800-2000 (probably Sunday to Thursday, not Friday or Saturday).
02 January 2011 - new visa fees and requirements for Canadian citizens

Update 28 May 2013 - from 01 June 2013 Canadians can get a free UAE visa on arrival again. Some of the information below is obsolete but left for archive purposes.

  • From 02 January 2011, nationals of Canada can no longer receive a free visit visa on arrival in the UAE.
  • Canadians must apply in advance for a UAE visit visa or UAE tourist visa).
  • The 30 day (not 1 month) and 3 months (or 90 day - not clear) visas are valid for a single entry only. After exiting the UAE, Canadians must wait 30 days before they can apply for a new entry visa (Update 28 January 2011: be careful - some Canadians have already been caught out by this when attempting to return to the UAE after a brief visit to another country).
  • This change was prompted by the disagreement between the UAE and Canada over landing rights in Canada for Emirates and Etihad airline operators.
  • Canadians in transit through a UAE who do not leave the airport do not need a UAE visa.
  • Visa fees according to the UAE embassy in Canada are C$250 (AED 920) for a 30 day single entry visit visa, C$500 (AED 1840) for a 90 day (or 3 month) single entry visa, and C$1,000 (AED 3640) for a 180 day (or 6 month) multiple entry visa.
  • Cheaper and/or quicker visa issue options might be available through Emirates and Etihad if a flight is booked with one of those airlines. As of 03 January 2011, visa fees charged if booking an EK or EY flight were approximately C$70-$80 (AED 250-300) for 30 days, C$330-$370 (AED 1150-1350) for 90 days. A 4-day visa is also available through those airlines for C$60-70 (AED 225-250), and a 14 day entry permit might be available for about C$100 (AED 370) but check with the airline for confirmation. The 180 day multi-entry visa is probably not available through the airline.
  • Alternatively, a cheaper visa might be arranged by a sponsor (relative, friend, company, hotel, travel agent) based in the UAE if they apply in the UAE for a visa.
  • Canadian nationals who live in another GCC country and have a valid residence permit from that country can get a 30 day visa on arrival in the UAE if they are in a high-level profession (doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc). Cost is AED 185, and entry will depend on the mood of the official at passport control who stamps your passport.
  • The situation might change if the UAE and Canada resolve their differences over the landing rights.
20 October 2010 - online mobile visa status check for Dubai
  • Dubai immigration launched a new smart mobile application for checking status and validity of visit visas and other transactions at GITEX 2010 in Dubai. New application is called GDRFAD Mobile for General Department of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai.
  • Application can be downloaded from the DNRD website (reportedly - Major General Mohammad Ahmed Al Marri, Director-General of the GDRFAD said "The service may be downloaded from the department's website" in press reports, but we couldn't find it when we looked on 23 October 2010).
  • Unknown if other emirates have a similar application available.
27 April 2010 - Visa rules change for citizens of Kenya
  • Kenyan citizens will only be given UAE entry visas if they are graduates of a recognized university according to reports in the BBC and Kenyan press. This is a result of four members of the Dubai royal family being detained by airport security in Kenya as suspected terrorists. This is an example of how visa rules in the UAE can change suddenly.
  • The Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula went to the UAE to apologise for the incident and try to patch things up. If he's successful then the rules might change again.

29 July 2008 - New visa rules start

29 July 2008 - New visa rules apply from 07:30 this morning (as opposed to 01 August 2008 as previously stated). Conflicting reports in the press, based on conflicting statements from various officials, has left everyone confused. If you're from one of the 33 free-visa-on-arrival countries, you'll probably have an easier time of it. Bring money for visa fees, patience, and politeness, and assume visa rules will be implemented randomly depending on the mood of the official you're dealing with at the entry point or visa office. Some of the more common visa questions follow (there are no definitive answers yet, just guesses, since even the authorities keep saying different things):

  • Countries that were previously allowed a visa on arrival (see list below) for free will probably still get that, but it might be 30 days instead of 60 days. Or, your passport is stamped 30 days but it's still valid for 60 days.
  • Visa runs might still be allowed, but may be restricted to nationals of the free-visa-on-arrival nationalities. This conflicts with another report that visa renewals have to be done from the home country. Again, it might be a differentiation depending on nationality.
  • Sponsoring friends and distant relatives is unclear. It may be a variable rule depending on salary, profession, nationality, etc of sponsoring person. Or it may be that only UAE nationals can sponsor friends. Again, conflicting reports seen.
Visa delivery service to airport - 17 June 2008

Visit visas and entry permits obtained by sponsors for visitors to the UAE normally need to be delivered to the airport at least three hours before the visitor arrives (except for the ones who get a visa on arrival). Look for a DNATA or DNRD visa delivery counter at Dubai International Airport (in or near the arrivals area). From 01 July 2008, instead of delivering the visa yourself, you can pay an extra Dh40 (or Dh 60 if urgent) and have it delivered for you, according to Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director General of DNRD, as reported in several UAE newspapers. Saves you the trouble of an extra trip through the airport traffic jam and carpark nuisance. The service will also be available at Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali when it opens.

09 June 2008 - New visa rules from 01 August 2008

New UAE visa rules were announced. A brief summary follows. The major changes appear to be that Visit Visas cannot be renewed, they will cost 500 dhs or 1000 dhs, expats can no longer sponsor friends on visit visas, and all visitors will need to show evidence of medical insurance. Nationalities of countries that at present can receive a free visit visa on arrival will continue to be able to do that according to reports on 09 June 2008. Conflicting information seen in some reports of the new visa rules. See the UAE visa table for a list of visa types summarised.

Dubai visit visa information page updated.

Visit Visa for 30 days

To obtain a UAE visit visa you'll need evidence of medical insurance, and a 1000 dhs deposit (some nationalities may be exempt). Cost of visit visa will be 500 dhs in any emirate. Visit visa validity will be 30 days and cannot be renewed. UAE non-Emirati residents will no longer be able to sponsor friends, only spouse or first-degree relatives, although there was a report in Xpress 25 September 2008 that a DNRD official said residents on salaries greater than 10,000 dhs/month could sponsor friends for a visit visa.

GCC residents might be able to obtain a visit visa for 100 dhs, with 500 dhs fee for one renewal. GCC nationals might be able to bring visitors with them under the same conditions, except renewal fee is only 200 dhs.

Visit Visa for 60 days - free for some nationalities

The new visa rules in June 2008 continued the free UAE visas on arrival for some nationalities but length of stay was randomly 30 days or 60 days until January 2009 when the period was set to 30 days, even if the stamp said 60 days.

Visit Visa for 90 days

Same conditions as 30 day visa but cost is 1000 dhs.

Other visit visas (all need 1000 dhs deposit)

  • Student visit visa UAE costs 1000 dhs, valid 60 days, person must be registered at a UAE university (for students coming to enrol in short course - long-term students should already have a residence visa). Can be renewed twice for 500 dhs.
  • Conference or Exhibition Visit Visa costs 100 dhs, valid for 30 days. Not renewable.
  • Medical Visit Visa costs 1000 dhs, valid 90 days, renewable for another 90 days for 500 dhs.

Tourist Visa

Valid for 30 days, costs 100 dhs + 10 dhs delivery fee, can only be obtained by hotels or tour operators. A deposit of 1000 dhs is needed. Can be renewed once.

Multi entry visa valid 180 days (or 6 months)

Other types of visas

  • Investor Visa for expats who invest a minimum of AED 70,000 share capital in a business partnership with a UAE national. Valid for 3 years, visa fee is 300 dhs.
  • Mission Visa (for temporary work in the UAE). Valid 90 days, costs 200 dhs, not renewable. Note that 90 days is not the same as 3 months. Other reports are saying the Mission Visa is valid 90 days for 600 dhs, can be renewed once for another 90 days with renewal fee 1200 dhs, but that may be old information, or conflicting information.
  • Parent Visa (name might not be correct). UAE residents can sponsor parents for 1 year renewable (need special permission from the FNRD). Refundable deposit of 5000 dhs (per parent) and visa fees 100 dhs.
  • Transit Visa costs 100 dhs, valid 96 hours (or 14 days according to some reports). Only issued if evidence of outbound flight shown.
  • UAE Embassies and Consulates can issue free visit visas if you're important enough.
Mission Visa - 90 to 180 days
Amer Service Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department
  • 30 March 2007 - A service where residents of the UAE can enquire, complain, or make suggestions 24 hours a day.
  • Tel 800-5111 (toll-free in the UAE), fax +971-4-3981177, email aamer@dnrd.ae as reported in Gulf News, email amer@dnrd.ae.
  • See also Amer Service discussion.
Medical exemption for expiration of residency visa
  • 26 January 2007 - expat students/children and those on long term medical care might be granted multiple entry visas for the UAE to get around the clause where residency visas expire if the holder is out of the UAE for more than six months. DG of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department was quoted in the Gulf News.

Procedure for applying for a visa in Dubai

  • Like most things in Dubai and UAE involving bureaucracy, go to the relevant department with lots of paper (all the documents requested and any others you can think of), your passport and a copy, more money than you think you need, a bottle of water (or coins to buy one), and a book to read. Wait in queues, learn about what extra documents you need, go home to get them and return the next day.
  • Get forms, pay fees, and pay for typing at the typing office next to the bank (Commercial Bank of Dubai) at the main entrance of the Immigration Department - this is for Dubai. Other emirates may or may not have similar procedures.
DNRD main office location in Dubai and opening times
  • The DNRD (Department of Naturalization and Residence, Dubai), is near the Trade Center roundabout next to the Bur Dubai Traffic Police Department there. Also called the Immigration Department or Immigration Building. Parking is difficult to impossible but across the Trade Center road is Zabeel Park with more parking (although crossing the road is a bit of an adventure). See the DNRD location map.
  • DNRD opening hours are 0730 - 2000 (7:30am - 8pm) Sundays to Thursdays for most services. Afternoons are less busy. Closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Sometimes open on holidays for limited hours.

Israel - Israeli stamps in your passport

Bribes and visas in Dubai and the UAE

  • If you're tempted to offer a bribe to speed up the visa process in Dubai, or get around a problem with fake university certificates or other documentation, or circumvent any other rules that are in place, think again. It does happen but there are procedures in place to catch those offering and accepting bribes.
  • Do not view the UAE as a country where bribery is endemic and a normal part of navigating bureaucratic procedures. In the Transparency International annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 (CPI-2011), the UAE was in 28th spot out of 183 countries (where top spot is for the least corrupt, not the most corrupt, country). The USA was at 24th position.
  • On 26 January 2012, Gulf News reported a number of arrests in Ajman related to bribes for visas. Three Emirati employees of the Ajman General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs and another 8 people employed at typing centers or as middlemen were arrested by Ajman Police for accepting bribes (of about AED 75,000 per visa if you want to know the going rate) to process visa applications which had been rejected for security reasons or had fake university degrees submitted. A press conference to announce the arrests was held, during which, Brigadier Shaikh Sultan Bin Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Acting Director General of Ajman Police, said "They accepted bribes from 55 people, out of which 25 have been arrested and referred to the public prosecution on charges of bribery. We are still looking for the other 30, some of which are outside the UAE." News reports said that the penalty for those offering a bribe is up to 5 years in jail, for those receiving a bribe is up to 10 years in jail.

Work Permits for Dubai

A work permit is not the same as a residency visa. The residency visa allows you to live in Dubai and the UAE for a period of time (usually 3 years). To work in Dubai, you also need to apply for a work permit or labor card. Usually the company you work for will arrange both work permits and residency visas for you and your family, and will explain to you what documents you need. If you're setting up your own business, you'll have to arrange the applications yourself. If you're in Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, or one of the other Free Zones, then you should be able to get everything arranged easily and quickly.

Some companies are efficient at arranging work permits and residency visas, others are more tardy and can take months or longer. It can also depend on the relationship the company has with the respective government departments.

Employment Visa - 30 days

An employment visa is issued to visitors who have arranged employment before coming to Dubai. It allows you to enter the country once and is valid for 30 days, during which time your company should complete processing of your work permit and residency visa. If you are from a country which can obtain a visit visa on arrival in Dubai, your company may ask you to enter this way instead but note that a visit visa does not allow you to work - the company should still obtain an employment visa or have your work permit ready.

Working on a Visit Visa or without a Work Permit

It is quite common for people to work in Dubai on a visit visa - and sometimes for many months, especially if a company wants to avoid the hassle and cost of processing a visa while a worker is on probation. The authorities occasionally crack down on this and deport people working without visas (with a visit to the police departure lounge on the way).

Another trap some people fall into is to state a profession on the visa different to what they really do. Small discrepancies are unlikely to be a problem eg Teacher vs Lecturer but claiming to be a Businessman is usually a red flag if you dress like a laborer and don't have any business cards with you, as some have found out - the consequence can be deportation and blacklisting.

In September 2007 it was reported that the Ministry of Labour was drawing up new rules that would mean those people found working on a visit visa would get a life ban for the UAE, and their employer would get a 50,000 dh fine.

Residency Visas - 3 years (or 1 year)

See Dubai residency visa information. Note that you cannot open a bank account, register a car, get a telephone connected, and so on until you have a residency visa or permit.

Usually residents will be sponsored by their employer (or an employed member of their family). The sponsor will normally make the visa arrangements and explain to you what documents you need. For those employed from overseas, the employer is responsible for all costs associated with obtaining your work permit (or labour card) and residency visa.

  • Expats with a residence visa and a job can sponsor their spouse and children - up to the age of 16 for sons, or 18 if a student, and daughters who are unmarried. See the UAE family sponsorship information for more details.
  • Sponsoring mother or father requires special permission, sponsoring brother or sister also. See UAE mother father visa information.
  • Residency Visas with property purchases - 3 years 6 months renewable - New Dubai property visas have been announced - valid for 6 months and available to all UAE property owners, with a number of restrictions. Previous Dubai property visa information moved to separate page.
  • Student resident visas in Dubai are available through the institute where a student is studying. A student resident visa is renewable annually and normally only issued to full-time students. Not all UAE universities and colleges arrange visas, check before enrolling.

Visit visas and visitor entry permits for the UAE

Visit Visas UAE

Update after new visa rules from 29 July 2008: 30 day visa is AED 500 (one renewal possible), 90 day visit visa is AED 1000. Conflicting information seen for visa runs (visa renewals by exiting and re-entering the UAE on the same day). It appears that the free visit visa on arrival nationalities can still do visa runs as before, but other nationalities must leave the country for at least a month.

  • Visit Visa on arrival - 30/60/90 days - Information moved to free visa on arrival nationalities.
  • Visit Visa UAE for family members pre-arranged - 60 days. Update after new Dubai visa rules: Length of stay is 30 days or 90 days. Updated information here: Dubai visit visa and sponsor relative UAE visa.
  • Friends visit visas can still be issued according to one report - see the UAE visit visa for friend topic.
  • Visit Visa expiry / renewal - 30/60 days. Update after new rules 28 July 2008: You can only renew a 30 day visit visa once within the UAE. The new visa rules say after expiry of your visa, you must leave the country for a month (might not apply for visit visa on arrival nationalities), and you are supposed to return to your home country (according to some officials, other officials you can go anywhere which sounds like the more sensible scenario).
  • See the visit visa renewal in Dubai page - includes details of road trip from Dubai to Oman via Hatta for renewing visit visas.

Business Visas for Dubai and the UAE (to be updated)

Investor Visa
  • Investors who invest in a local UAE company can obtain an entry permit for work. Fees are about AED 10,000 to AED 40,000. See the DNRD site for more details.
  • This may have changed in January 2006 to 300 dhs fees but with a minimum investment of 70,000 dhs. The DNRD site doesn't specify a minimum.
Multiple Entry Visa - 6 months
e-form
  • Applications for permits can be made online at eform.ae - you'll need to register first. Payment can be made with eDirham, credit card or direct debit according to them.

Cancelling visas and work permits

UAE visa information sources

Most of these sources would be a primary reference for many visitors and expats, but are not always up-to-date. It's a rare thing if they all consistently provide the same information about visas. Even phoning the Ministry of Labour and/or the DNRD or other UAE NRD can result in inconsistent information. Any other source usually bases their information on one of these.

  • airarabia.com - Air Arabia website
  • dnrd.gov.ae or dnrd.ae - Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai (DNRD) website - should be the most up to date source
  • dubai.ae - Dubai Government information website for visitors and residents, visa section refers to the DNRD
  • dubaiairport.com - Dubai International Airport website
  • dubaitourism.ae - Dubai Government Department of Tourism and Marketing (DTCM)
  • emirates.com - Emirates Airlines website
  • etihadairways.com - Etihad Airways website
  • government.ae - UAE Government information website
  • mol.gov.ae - mostly for work permit and labour card information but also Mission Visas
  • newspapers in the UAE - Emirates Business 24-7, Gulf News, Gulf Today, Khaleej Times, The National, Xpress
  • uaeinteract.com - National Media Council information and news about the UAE
Online visa applications UAE

There are several websites that appear to have an online facility available for obtaining a UAE entry permit (tourist visa or visit visa). Before handing over money, try to confirm with an official UAE organisation such as the UAE Immigration Ministry if such sources are legitimate. It is possible websites are trying to scam people with these procedures. Remember that normally anyone arranging a visa prior to travelling to the UAE needs to have a sponsor in the UAE - a friend, relative, airline, travel agent, hotel, or company based in the UAE (we'd suggest dealing directly with one of those options, or contact a UAE Embassy, or talk to the airline you are travelling with). Some websites are (these are not necessarily recommended sites, just listed here with whatever we know about them):

  • www.dubaivisa.net - VFS Global - online visa applications for the use of Emirates Airline passengers only. Related websites at www.vfsglobal.com, www.vfs-uk-ae.com. VFS operates a Dubai Visa Processing Centre (DVPC) in several countries.
  • www.southtravels.com (South Travels) - Dubai based travel agent that offers visa processing for most or all nationalities that cannot get on arrival. Note that we do not recommend them, at least not until an unresolved issue has been resolved, but reference them because they regularly appear on internet search results (and occasionally as the subject of a complaint from a dissatisfied customer).
  • www.visaenterprise.com - Canadian company issuing Dubai entry visas only, claims to be the "First Canadian company registered with the UAE immigration department." Unclear how they can issue visas without the applicant having a sponsor in the UAE which is normally required. No reference to Visa Enterprise found on UAE Embassy or Immigration department websites.
Last update Monday 18-Aug-2014
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.dnrd.ae and www.dnrd.gov.ae both take you to the DNRD website. Information on Entry permits, residence visas, visit visas, etc. Website might have been designed by U2 as it's not always easy to find what you're looking for.
  • www.eform.ae - online applications for permits. Not available Aug 2014.
  • www.emol.ae - Spam (last checked Aug 2014). Was the MOL eservices website (Arabic and English). Enter application number to get information about work permit, company, labor card etc. Also has Tas'heel Services link.
  • www.dubaivisa.com - is spam when last checked (25 Jun 2013)
  • www.dubaivisa.net - is a VFS Global website for online UAE visa applications - Dubai Visa Processing Center (DVPC) (is legitimate as far as we know).
  • www.abudhabiairport.ae/english/media/TIM_tcm13-3516.pdf - UAE section of the IATA Travel Information Manual (TIM) April 2011 PDF download. Seems to be one of the better references for visa and travel document information. But is not up to date.

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