Visit visa to Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, RAK, Sharjah, UAQ, UAE
There are several different ways to obtain a visit visa for Dubai and other emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A visit visa and a tourist visa are not the same, although they are both entry permits for visitors to the UAE. The difference is mostly to do with who sponsors the visitor for their trip, cost, and whether or not the visa is renewable. Usually a visit visa is valid 60 days before entry to Dubai, can only be used for a single entry, and after exit the visitor must stay away from the UAE for 30 days before re-applying for a new visa (there are some exceptions). For individual or company sponsorship of a UAE visit visa, the sponsor must be based in the UAE, and have a UAE residence visa if the sponsor is a person. GCC nationals do not need a visit visa to enter the UAE. GCC residents, or visitors accompanying GCC nationals might be able to obtain a visit visa more easily - contact a UAE immigration department.
Although UAE immigration rules are supposed to be federal, there are sometimes differences between emirates in how they are interpreted and implemented. Sometimes even within an emirate, perhaps depending on the mood of the border control official or immigration department official. Sharjah in particular seems to be more restrictive and inconsistent.
- UAE medical visit visa or medical tourism visa - overseas patients can get a 90 day (or 3 month?) medical tourist visa, extendable twice up to 270 days (or 9 months?). Only for Dubai though. A new initiative by the Dubai Health Authority and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). Applies only to patients attending hospitals with international accreditation (or applying for accreditation) for example Joint Commission International (JCI) (news reports November 2012).
- UAE property owner visa - new in 2009, not clear if regarded as a visit visa or residence visa by the UAE immigration authorities (probably a visit visa), multi-entry, valid 180 days, renewable
- UAE tourist visa - valid 30 days, renewable once, available to most nationalities, sponsored by an airline (UAE based airlines only?), travel agent in the UAE, or hotel in the UAE.
- UAE transit visa - not really a visit visa but might be an easier option for short stays of less than 4 days.
- UAE visit visa on arrival - valid 30 days, "renewable" (new visa issued each time) indefinitely, available to some nationalities only, obtain at passport control on arrival at any UAE border entry point (airport, land, or sea), new visa can be issued immediately after exit (30 day waiting period outside UAE not required).
- UAE visit visa - 30 days or 90 days, not renewable (usually), sponsored by company, relative, or friend (sometimes).
- UAE visit visa for GCC residents (unconfirmed) - 30 days, renewable once, costs 100 dhs. Restricted to certain high-level professions (doctor, teacher, manager, lawyer, etc). Visa fee might be higher than 100 dhs. Some sources say this visa is not renewable but that might be old information.
- UAE visit visa for visitors with GCC nationals (unconfirmed) - 30 days, renewable once, costs 100 dhs
The UAE visa list is a more comprehensive table of different types of visa available, with validity periods and more details.
Unskilled workers and laborers, and UAE visit visas - September -October 2012 rule changes ... or not
- 03 Oct 2012 - the situation was clarified again (but in a different way), for Bangladeshis, by Major General Al Menhali (again), who was quoted in a Gulf News report saying "We are not issuing any new visas to Bangladeshis but we are renewing for those who already have residence visas. Other than that, no one will be issued any new visa of any kind," presumably referring to Bangladeshis rather than all nationalities.
- 19 Sep 2012 - the situation was clarified by Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation and Residency, and Ports Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Interior, with a report from the official UAE news agency, WAM (No ban on granting visit visa for low-income labours : MoI), reporting him saying departments of naturalisation and residency across the country were processing visit visa transactions for would-be applicants in consistence with standard procedures. He lashed out at some media outlets which published these untrue news that drawn from unofficial and unreliable sources. The report didn't clarify what the standard procedures were, or if they had been changed for some categories as reported earlier. The report confusingly referred to tourist visas also, starting off with the comment that A top Ministry of Interior official has denied press reports on a ban of tourist visa for unskilled jobs. As far as we understand, only tourist agents, hotels, and airlines can sponsor tourist visas for Dubai, not individuals.
- 17 Sep 2012 - Gulf News reported that some nationalities and worker categories were banned from obtaining tourist and/or visit visas for the UAE, either for themselves or by sponsoring others. The report quoted an unnamed "senior official" as saying "The Federal Residency Department, which oversees residency departments across the country, has decided to adopt stricter regimes for tourist, visit and conference visas to curb the influx of blue-collar workers from many labour exporting countries into the country." The same source was also quoted as saying "This would help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country," explaining the motivation for the change in procedures. The list of countries specifically affected wasn't supplied but it was suggested the list might include Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka. A list of categories affected was given - Categories banned from obtaining tourist, visit or conference visas include electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners. Reports also said the new rules would require visit visa applicants from affected countries and or labour categories to have a minimum qualification of a university degree ... which makes the whole story sound bizarre ... but bizzare stories are not entirely unheard of in the UAE.
UAE visit visa sponsorship
For visitors not from one of the countries that can obtain a visit visa on arrival, they need to find a UAE based sponsor to apply for a visit visa for them. The sponsorship possibilities are (updated after new UAE visa rules in July 2008):
- Company sponsorship UAE visa - UAE based company needs to have a deposit with the UAE immigration authority, this type of visit visa is intended for business visitors to the UAE that have some type of relationship to the company. Proof of this might be requested (a business card on arrival for example).
- Friend sponsorship UAE visa - possible under certain conditions: minimum salary, limited number of professions, might be difficult for males attempting to sponsor unrelated females or vice versa. The minimum salary figure was 10,000 dhs per month in 2008 but might vary, or be applied inconsistently.
- Relative sponsorship UAE visa - easy for first degree relatives (mother, father, son, daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister), more difficult for second degree relatives - will probably require special permission from the immigration department.
Documents and requirements needed for individual sponsoring a visit visa
- Resident's passport with valid UAE residence visa.
- Resident's labour contract or salary certificate as proof of minimum salary.
- Proof of relationship of family member, documents will probably need to be attested.
- Proof of medical / health / accident insurance for the visitor.
- Copy of visitor's passport (should be valid for at least 6 months after expected date of entry to the UAE).
- Visa application form - obtain at the typing center at the immigration department (DNRD in Dubai, or other UAE immigration office).
- Relevant visa fees.
- Refundable deposit (might be AED 1000 or AED 2000 - different information seen).
- Minimum salary requirement as follows (treat figures as approximate):
Procedure to obtain visit visa for Dubai and other UAE emirates
- The person or PRO of the company sponsoring you needs to go to the immigration department of the emirate which issued their residence visa (or trade licence). It might be possible to apply in a different emirate if the sponsor has a good reason for that e.g. they live in a different emirate to the one that issued their residence visa (in which case they should bring a copy of their tenancy contract, DEWA or telephone bill as proof they live in a different emirate, or labour card as proof they work in a different emirate), but they might still be told to go to the emirates that issued their residence visa.
- The process starts at the typing center where the visa fees are paid and the application form will be filled in. The typing center will direct the applicant to the next relevant counter for document submission and processing.
- Visit visa should be issued within a day or two, possibly the same day if urgent processing fees are paid.
- After receiving the visit visa, either the original or a copy should be sent to the visitor.
- If only the copy is sent, then the original visa needs to be deposited at the Dubai airport DNATA counter at least three hours prior to arrival of the visitor. There is also a Visa Delivery Service available at the DNATA counter at the DNRD (but visa needs to be left with them a day before arrival of the visitor).
- For other emirates, ask when the visa is collected from the immigration department, where the visa needs to be deposited for collection by the visitor on arrival.
Renewing a visit visa
Conflicting information seen regarding whether a visit visa is renewable. The DNRD visa fees table says neither visit visa is renewable. Confusion might be because other common visa types used by visitors are renewable - a UAE tourist visa and a UAE visit visa on arrival.
Visit visa cancellation and deposit refund, and overstaying a visit visa
- When the guest leaves the UAE, the visa is automatically cancelled.
- Any overstaying fines are paid on departure - allow AED 100 for overstaying plus AED 200 per day (it might still be AED 100). Entry day and exit day are counted, and remember the "one month visa" is actually only valid for 30 days.
- Overstaying a visit visa in the UAE - there is possibly a grace period of 10 days but don't count on it, it seems to be a bit of a lottery as to whether you get fined during this period or not - it might depend on the mood of the official at the gate, your mood, your nationality, the weather, and so on. Confirmation of this grace period not found on official General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (immigration department) websites for the UAE. There were reports in early 2012 that the grace period for overstaying had been cancelled, but nothing official found or supplied.
- After the guest has left, the sponsor needs to go back to the immigration department where the visit visa was issued, and present their deposit receipt to get a refund. Their computer system will be automatically updated when the visitor departs, proof of departure should not be needed.
Working on a Dubai UAE visit visa
Employment in the UAE is not permitted while on a visit visa. That's not to say it doesn't happen, it does but the company runs the risk of fines and being blacklisted for future work permit and visa applications, and the visitor runs the risk of fines, deportation, and a long or permanent UAE immigration and labour ban. For expats who are arriving for the first time in the UAE for a new job, it's not uncommon for the company to ask new workers to obtain a visit visa on arrival if they are from one of the countries that can do so, since it's easier than the company applying for an employment entry permit. Expats are not supposed to start working until the company has processed their residence permit and labour card. Whilst the risk of getting into trouble might be relatively low, there is still a risk, and new residents should try to avoid being put into this position. Especially since some less scrupulous companies use this system to avoid processing expat residency and labour status for a lengthy time (the employee is sent across a border to renew their visit visa repeatedly). Workers in this situation also do not have any of the employment rights protected under UAE law.
Finding a job while on a visit visa in Dubai UAE
It is acceptable to look for work with a UAE employer while on a visit visa, and many expats do exactly that. It is also a good idea to visit the UAE if you have been offered a job, before accepting the job. Just remember not to actually start working while still on a visit visa.
Previous Dubai visit visa information
Below is the old visit visa to Dubai information, no longer valid (after new visa rules from July 2008), but left here for reference. Information about sponsoring a friend is inconsistent - see the Dubai visit visa for friend topic.
Visit Visa for family members and friends pre-arranged - 60 days
If you are not from one of the listed countries, then you will need a sponsor in the UAE to arrange one for you. The sponsoring person will need:
- A copy of their passport.
- A copy of the visitor's passport.
- Fee of 100 dhs + additional 100 dhs if urgent processing required. Normal processing takes a few days, urgent a day or two.
- Fee of 10 dhs if Empost delivery wanted.
- Deposit of 2000 dhs refundable after visitor has left (upon presentation of receipt).
- Copy of the attested (in some cases) employment contract if the sponsor is a resident.
- Minimum salary of 3000 to 6000 dhs per month depending on relationship to visitor and accommodation arrangement (3000 dhs with accommodation or 4000 dhs without is the normal minimum).
- A residency visa from the same emirate as where they make the Visit Visa application.
Below are possible sponsorship arrangements (and additional requirements).
- Friend of resident employed in the UAE. Friends sponsoring single visitors of the opposite gender may find it difficult to obtain a visa for them.
- Parents or brother or sister of resident.
- Wife and children of resident. Need to present attested copy of Marriage Certificate.
- Company in the UAE. Need to present original Commercial Licence, Establishment licence and PRO card with application.
- Wife/Children/Relative of UAE National. No minimum salary requirement or copy of employment contract needed. Need proof of relationship from UAE Embassy and copy of marriage certificate if wife is not a UAE National.
Visit Visa renewal / extension - 30 days maximum
It is possible to extend a Visit Visa for another 30 days at the Immigration Department. This will cost you 500 dhs and you can only do this once if you have a 30 day Visit Visa. The new 90 day Visit Visa is not renewable.
Visit Visa information from DDIA
The Dubai Development and Investment Authority (DDIA) website has what appears to be clear information about visit visas for Dubai (as of January 2006):
- AGCC citizens: Citizens of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council member states do not need a visa.
- AGCC residents: AGCC expatriate residents who meet certain conditions may obtain a non-renewable 30-day visa upon arrival at the approved ports of entry.
- Citizens of Western Europe and the Pacific Rim: Citizens of UK (with the right of abode in the United Kingdom), France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Malta, Spain, Monaco, Vatican City, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong will be granted a visit visa free of charge on arrival at any UAE port of entry. The visa enables them to stay for 60 days. The visa may be renewed once for a period of 30 days for a fee of Dhs 500.
Last update Friday 11-Jan-2013