How to Get a Work Visa in Dubai

Dubai skyline

Dubai is an excellent location for expats looking to work abroad and earn a lot of money. As the most populace, modern and liberal Emirate, there is a need for skilled workers. But if you are not a United Arab Emirates citizen, then you will need to obtain a work visa to get a job in Dubai.

Luckily, this type of residency visa is relatively easy to get if you have employment in the UAE. Unfortunately, even wealthy Dubai has been affected by the global downturn and its effect on the UAE as a whole. As a result, the government has introduced quotas for foreign workers, and this means it can be difficult for expats to find a job.

Secure a residency visa

It’s not a good idea to move to Dubai unless you have already secured employment there. Make sure that you have a written contract or job offer letter from a Dubai business. Without a job, you will not be granted residency, and that is essential to everything else. You will not be able to get a work permit, open a bank account, rent a property, get a driving licence or buy a car.

There are numerous different types of residency visas:

  • Employment – valid for two years
  • Family – valid for up to two years
  • Student – valid for one year
  • Domestic helpers – valid for one year
  • Investors – valid for up to three years

If you have a job in Dubai, the residence visa and work permits are usually sorted out for you by your employer who will also cover any costs.

But you will need to provide the following to complete the application for a residency visa:

  • completed application form
  • multiple passport-sized photos
  • original and a copy of your passport
  • copy of a valid company card
  • copy of the company’s valid commercial licence
  • employment permit issued by the Ministry of Labour
  • application fee

Undergo a health check

Before your visa can be granted, you’ll have to undergo a thorough medical test which will take place at a government hospital or clinic. This includes blood tests and a chest X-ray. If you test positive for any communicable diseases, including leprosy, TB, HIV or AIDS, your application will be refused and you will be deported immediately.

Apply for a work permit

Once you have received your work visa, you need to apply for a work permit. Your employer will do this for you and will cover any costs. Note that all forms for the work permit must be written in Arabic as should the terms of your employment contract.

To be granted a work permit, you will need:

  • a residency visa
  • a qualification that is required in the UAE
  • a valid passport with at least six months’ validity

The following will be required to accompany your work permit application:

  • a current photograph of yourself
  • your passport and residency visa
  • a valid health certificate
  • a copy of your employer’s company trade licence
  • three copies of your employment contract, signed by you and your employer
  • copies of your professional qualifications

Please note that if you have ever had a work visa in Dubai and have not cancelled it, you run the risk of being arrested upon your return to the UAE. For this reason, make sure to cancel the work visa when you leave the country.

It’s a complicated process, considering all the steps that have to be taken and the sponsorship system that the country operates. However, given the fact that your employer will handle most of the process for you, and who will be quite experienced in this, you won’t actually have to deal with any of the bureaucratic complexity.

Have you ever worked in Dubai? What was your experience of getting a work visa? Let us know in the comments section below.


This article was originally published in June 2014.