Dubai Visa, Residency and Sponsorship Questions and Answers

Can I come on a visit or tourist visa to Dubai, find work and start working immediately?

It is illegal to work on a visa other than a valid employment visa in Dubai. However, you may come on a visit or tourist visa and actively search for jobs in Dubai. Under recent legislation pertaining to employment visas, successful candidates who are hired by Dubai employers are required to exit the UAE pending release of their Employment Visas.

Clearly, any employer asking you to start work immediately or without a valid employment visa is not in compliance with legal requirements. If you choose to begin work without a valid employment visa, you:

  1. give up you chances of using the Labour Code or having the Labour Ministry to mediate your case in the event of a dispute with your employer;
  2. run the risk of being caught, fined and deported. You will also be blacklisted such that you may never return on an employment visa to the UAE. In many cases, illegal laborers spend jail time prior to deportation and their retina scans are kept active to effect the blacklisting.

Can I apply for an employment visa myself?

No, you can’t do that on your own. Employment and residency in Dubai work within a system of sponsorship. An employer is the appropriate party to apply for an employment and residency visa for employees. This means you have to have been hired prior to the application for your employment visa.

How does the UAE’s system of sponsorship work?

An employee’s designated sponsor for residency visa is their employer, whether the respective company is operating within or outside of Free Zones. Dubai or UAE residency is temporary and normally valid for three (3) years but may be renewed. The visa is stamped on the face of your passport.

UAE Laws require resident aliens (foreign nationals) to be primarily sponsored by a UAE national (citizen). UAE nationals may be direct private sponsors, as in the case of a UAE national hiring a domestic servant or, they may be indirect sponsors, as in the case of business employees. Businesses are able to sponsor their employees mainly because a UAE national is a partner, owner or a majority shareholder of the business-sponsor.

Besides being sponsored by my employer, how else can I get a UAE residency visa?

You have three options:

  1. Set up and register your own company in Dubai. Your business can then be your sponsor. Note however that you’ll be required to have a local partner, i.e., a UAE citizen.
  2. Set up a consultancy off of a free zone to become eligible for both residency and work permits
  3. Buy a property so that the property developer becomes your sponsor for residency. Note however that this does not entitle you to work in the UAE.

Can someone who is not a UAE national sponsor a resident?

Yes. This is possible through secondary sponsorship. Secondary sponsors are sponsored residents, usually employed males who would like to have their wife and children live with them in the UAE.

Can women be secondary sponsors as well?

Yes, women can sponsor their children if they’re divorced or widowed.

Can a married woman sponsor her husband and children?

Yes, she can, but only under certain circumstances and with prior approval by both the Depart of Labour and the Department of Immigration and Naturalisation. Wives sponsoring husbands are not customary. In most cases, approval is granted if the wife-sponsor has a profession of strategic and economic importance such as teachers or medical personnel.

What are the qualifying criteria for secondary sponsors?

Employed persons may sponsor only their immediate family, and must meet the minimum salary requirement for sponsorship. The consent and signature of the primary sponsor is required before an employee may sponsor their family.

Whose residency can I sponsor so that they can reside with me in the UAE?

  • Your spouse. This means either your lawfully-wedded husband or wife. This does not include a same-sex partner, even if such person is a lawfully-wedded partner.
  • Your children. These are male and female offspring under 21 years or unmarried daughters over 21 years.

What does being a secondary sponsor mean?

Secondary sponsors are responsible for their dependents whilst such dependents are residents of the UAE. This means you are responsible for their financial support, debts, if they incur any, and all aspects of life and living whilst they are under your sponsorship, including their conduct and behaviour.

Also, as their sponsor, you are responsible for the visa, processing fees and other related costs for obtaining the residency permit for your dependents. This is not your employer’s responsibility and they may not be obliged to assist you beyond giving their consent to your sponsorship. However, in some cases, employers may provide employees with visa-assistance benefits for employees to bring their families over.

Can I acquire permanent residency in the UAE?

No, you can’t. Residency in the UAE is only temporary. However, it is renewable.

Can I acquire UAE citizenship?

No, you can’t. An expatriate is not eligible for UAE citizenship. UAE citizens are defined by law to be only those persons born of parents who are both UAE citizens or born to a father who is a UAE citizen.

What happens to an expat’s child born in the UAE?

The child takes on the citizenship of the parents who must then apply for temporary residency status for their child under the secondary sponsorship system within three months of birth.

What right does temporary residency NOT include?

Temporary residency status is not concurrent with the right to work or seek employment in the UAE, nor does it guarantee employment. Sponsored children under 18 and freehold property owners over 60, whose residency is sponsored by the respective property development company, are not eligible for employment in the UAE. All other residents may go through the usual application process to be legally employed. Legal employment in the UAE is evidenced by the Labour Card.

I have a valid UAE residency visa. I’d like to spend some time in my home country. Will my visa still be valid when I return?

Assuming your UAE residency visa is not expiring within the next six (6) months, you can stay outside of the UAE for at most six months and return on the same visa. Staying outside of the UAE for more than six months at a time automatically invalidates your UAE residency.

What is a “ban”? How do I get banned?

A ban is a legal mechanism that prevents a resident or an employee from re-entering the country or from accepting a position with a new employer for a fixed period of time, usually for six (6) months.
A permanent residency ban may be imposed on serious labour offenders, such as illegal or absconded workers, illegal aliens or convicted felons. Fingerprint samples and retina scans of banned individuals are kept on file by the Federal Department of Immigration.

A labour ban is mandatory. You get banned when:

  • Your contract expires and no action pertaining to your employment has been taken by your current employer, or no new application by a different employer is filed for you.
  • You terminate an unlimited labour contract before completing one year of service.
  • You terminate a limited labour contract before its expiration.

How do I NOT get banned?

  • Your current employer must have taken appropriate action with the Department of Labour to extend your employment with them prior to the expiration of your labour contract;
  • Your sponsorship must have been transferred with a different employer. To effect this, certain conditions must be met, otherwise, your Labour Card will be cancelled and you will be banned.

How do I have my sponsorship transferred from one employer to the next?

Your limited labour contract must have already expired or you must have performed at least one year of service under an unlimited labour contract. As your current sponsor is required to issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC), they must have no objections to the transfer or their conditions must have been met prior to the issuance of such certificate. In any case, this is usually discussed by your current and prospective employers. The NOC is required for the transfer of your Labour Card and both must be filed with the Department of Labour. In addition, you can only transfer sponsorships under the same labour category. This simply means your new employment must be for the same position, e.g. Accountant to Accountant, Manager to Manager.

What is the NOC? Can my current employer be legally ordered to provide this document?

A No Objection Certificate (NOC) is a formal letter by your current sponsor addressed to the Department of Labour and the Department of Naturalisation and Immigration to prevent you, the employee, from being banned after completion of your labour contract or in the process of transferring your sponsorship to a new employer. This is entirely discretionary and must be freely given by an employer. No employer may be forced to provide an employee with a NOC, under any circumstance, even after successful completion of a labour contract.

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    PLZ HELP ….

  2. hi

    i just want to know if i can sponcer my girlfrined on a visit visa. her age is 28 will she be allowed to travell.

  3. Im on house driver visa and im going to cancel my visa next month. so do house driver comes in labour ministry or not they gave me one card i dont know what it was may be labour card or other card of work which i lost and know my friend said me if you lost labour card you will have fine so first of all i want to know that house driver visa do come in labour or not

  4. Hi,
    i just want to ask because i am working for 5 months now with my employer but im still under employment visa. Now she told that the application is already late for 3 months and i need to go back to the beginning of the processing. What will happened if i choose to resign(since i dont like the way she’s treating us) and go back to my home country without the residency visa on my passport? please advice!


  6. Dear Sir
    I had problem for the TB in past in childhood and now there are some marks which appear in X ray but now it is treated and there is no problem.Can you pls guide me if i can get employment visa in abudhabi

  7. Aatif Asghar says:

    Dear sir,

    I have only completed six month period with current employer and presently I have an offer from another company. Please let me know, whether I can transfer my sponsorship at present condition without any employment ban.

    Thanks & regards

  8. hi…good frnd sponsoring me a tourist visa and i am scheduled my flight nxweek.My problem is in the affidavit subject it was stated me as ‘relative’ but the truth is he just only my frnd,,and i dnt have any documents prooving of relationship that he is my this issue can cause a problem regarding on the status of the my visa?So wht can be the best reason i will stated im philippine immigration desk officer ?pls advice..thnks a lot

  9. I am a muslim and also a Nigerian I want to come and work in dubai. What are the rquirement ul need from a nigeirian coming to dubai to work. How can I get employment visa. Ma Salam. Please reply.

  10. what is age limit for employment visa

  11. Am cuming from Nigeria, I wana travel to dubai to work. what are the rquirements ul nid 4d kind of visa I’ll b gven. Am dark in comlexion, am 22yrs of age, I’ll really appreci8 it if am employed to wrk in dubai or outside dubai. Pls reply.

  12. hi My name is Tariq Mehmood I am from Pakistan and I am seeking work visa plz suggest me what to do?

  13. Myself from India.I brought maid in tourist visa want to convert in to Maid visa.What is the procedure? Can anyone help me…Thanks in advance

  14. Hi! I am on my husband’s visa and currently working in real estate company for two month. I didn’t sign any job offer yet, but I submitted documents for labor card. They won’t change my visa, I will stay on my husband’s visa. There is a possibillity that I will get an offer in oil and gas company.I have a university degree ( bachelor)
    Question is: if i want to leave RE and join oil and gas company i will be banned or not? or I need just to get NOC from RE( they are not my sponsor) and cancel labor card??? What is the procedure?

  15. almost 18months working here in dubai, i have Labour Card. but until now no residence visa stamp on my passport,i cant get emirates id because it is one of the requirements having residence visa, what will happen to me now? is this my problem or its my company problem? because they always told me nothing to worry, and do i have a chance to get another job here after 2 years? please i need an answer, thank you..

  16. HI i wanted to know, if 1 person working any company in UAE under 3 years of contract & if he able to complete only 1 year in that company & want to go back to his country back. now the question is can he apply for the job in any other GCC places ?

  17. saqibsaleem says:

    D.O.B: 08-04-1986
    Phone: +92-321-6459002
    MOH.Islamabad Gondlanwala
    Career objective

    “To join stimulating organization which need passionate professionals for the accomplishment of organization’s objective & where, I prove my creativity with organization’s success”


    B.I.S.E , Gujranwala 2001

    Professional Exposure

    CM Wollen Mills, Gujranwala April 2005 – June.2007
    Designation: Accountant
    Job Description: Preparation of manually and computerized Accounts and Final Statement (Income Statement, Balance Sheet)

    Crystal Foods, Gujranwala Jul. 2008 – Feb. 2010
    Designation: KPO & Accountant
    Job Description: PDS Handling (Invoice Feeding, Daily Sales Summary etc)

    Hamza Trader’s, Gujranwala March 2010 to cont…
    Designation: Accounts Manager
    Job Description: PDS Handling (Invoice Feeding, Daily Sales Summary etc)

    Professional Skills

    Communication Skills (Explicit communicator, Socializing)
    Project Management (Leadership, Teamwork)
    Personal Management (Flexibility, Optimism, Commitment to Grow)

    IT Proficiency

    Microsoft Office (M/S Words, M/s Excel , M/S PowerPoint , M/S Outlook)
    Microsoft Window XP (System Formatting, System Partition etc)
    Computer Hardware and Software. (Networking, Installation of Software)
    Quick Book Accounting Software
    Busy Business Accounting Software
    In page
    Visual Basic Software
    Tally Accounting Software

  18. Hi,

    I would like to know what could be the consequences for a lady under husband sponsership to work without a labour card in Dubai?

  19. hai sir

    i currently stay with residence visa sponsored by spouse.i got an offer for job and the employer already applied for work visa.As i am expecting the employer is saying to wait until the visa get expired as i can not join immediately.They say once the visa get expired,they can apply for one more time so that i can join after child birth.Is there any problems if i do not accept the first employment visa?Is there any ban in such case? If the employer reapply for the visa can i enter to job? waiting for the replay

  20. nizam uddin khan says:

    dear sir i am working in fujiraha last 5 year in a company llc as a post of masanger and I want faimly visa for my wife she is 48 years old and her healt is not good please inforam me what are the requirements to get faimly visa for my wife thanks

  21. musinguzi solomon says:

    what iwant to know is iwas in dubai in 2007
    and ihave burn for on year now it is 2011
    when icome again in dubai is any problem yes/no
    As per now iam in uganda.
    THANKS YOURS musinguzi solomon

  22. Asalam O Alaikum !
    Can some body tell me that a women can do a job in dubai and sponser her husband and child or not??? please let me know as soon as possible. I shall be thankfull to you.

  23. living here in dubai since 3 years(under husband’s visa) i get a job as an administrator,so my question is what if i had to resign in 6 months then i ll be banned?….(i have to join in january and i only get appointment would be my first job so im v confused about the labour laws under husband’s visa) plz guide…i ll be v thankful.

  24. hi
    i have question releted to my job salary ,i am working in printing press as a sales executive .My company stop my salary 3 months (July,Aug,Sep) .If i get any other job so the company put me band or on that case Labour Law will support me.

  25. hi sherry
    i’m working for 1 company now in dip. my visa will be completed 2 years on this coming april-2012. me and my friend we are planning to open one shop in international city. me and my friend will be the investors here. so i want to ask you that will i get ban when i cancell my current visa?

  26. Hi. I was a citezen of abudhabi. I got citizenship when I married my husband. Aftr I was divorced he forcibly took my passport n when it was returned to me,my citizenship had been cancelled. Didn’t I have any rights to stop losing my citizenship,evenif my ex husband was my sponsor?

  27. hai.
    I will sponser visit visa to my brother and sister in law?
    any body tell me clarification please.

  28. Hi Sir,

    one seriuous question were im not able to take decision on my own as its question of my pregnant now and im working for a freezone company ,my husband cannot sponsor me and i will have to quit my job since im flying to India for my delivery and will take hardly 6months to get back..after which i would like to come back and work again but what about sponsoring none of us can sponsor my child, and how can i come back?should i come here for visit and search for job or how?please suggest.. please help hoping for a quick reply

  29. hi,
    according to UAE labor law im on probation of 6 months with a company. its been 2 months we have not yet received salary. they usually keep this gap in paying salaries.. i have few good offers .. so i want to know if i can switch without taking a ban or not? my visa is a professional visa.. software engineer.
    secondly is health insurance no more mandatory for the employees from the company??
    and is there any way i can complain against my company. can any actions be taken in this regard of salary or medical insurance if i file a complain?

    urgent reply in this regard would be highly appreciated for me to take a decision.

    thank you

  30. What is the requirement for renewing the residence visa for my child. He’s visa will expired after three years and I need to know what is the procedure.

  31. can anyone help? iam working in bahrain with a reputed dubai based company stopping their operations in bahrain i have requested for a transfer to dubai. but now i have got a better job in another contry and i dont want to go to dubai. when i filed my resignation company is asking me to pay DHS 2500 towards the visa expences in dubai. what should i do? how much is the real cost for appling work visa in dubai? is it refundable if the person did not report?

  32. hi,may name is jitendra and i have immigration visa and i sponcer may wife but sudanly i join new compny they give me labor visa with in 15 days,so this sichution i have to dposit some amaunt or not riqurd diposit amaunt,bicoz i have 28days after the cancal visa,if i got with in 20day may new this time i have to pay some amaunt or not please get back to me

  33. My father-in-law is currently on visit visa and about to expire in Jan4. Is there a way to change his visa to residence sponsored by my wife? As per the Immigration, both parents should be sponsored but the problem is my mother-in-law cannot leave her other children. Is there anyway my wife can sponsor his Father alone? my Father-in-law is 63 yrs old now.

  34. hi i just want to ask i have may employment visa already i just xerox thru email i just want to know what is the requirments or documents that i needed more before i leave my country…

  35. If my child study in Dubais school (11 y.o), how can I get visa?

  36. Muhammad Iqbal says:

    My name Muhammad Iqbal From Pakistan I want to open consultancy and engineering company at freezone first i want to come with my family on visit visa and after open company or start business at Dubai possiable i covert my visa into business or work and also my family visa into family visa without exit

  37. Hi

    Past 2 years 10 months i am working in same company it’s a free zone Dubai health care visa recently my company office shifted JLT (jumeriah lake lower) & our visa will be transfer another free zone DMCC and its a new 3 years visa my question is i got new job in Abu Dhabi if i change job it’s a six month ban? Please advice

  38. hi,
    my wife has been working dubai, her contract expired october 2011 and she was come back homebut she has not been given her pasport back by her employer now heading 2 months, what could be the problem
    please advise thanks.

  39. I please wanted to enquire on a situation. I have just got visa – not sure that will be employment or visit visa from one hotel in fujeirah, which is all well.

    Now in between this, i got a better offer from a hotel in Abu Dhabi saadiyat island. I want to take the Abu Dhabi job now, i checked with fujeirah, they have already removed my visa.

    So wht shall i do now? Is there any way i can go to sadiyat island?

    Im Still in India and havent travelled yet, pls do advise

  40. Hi,

    I’d like to ask about sponsoring a child to live in UAE.

    I’m Filipino, Me and my husband are lives and works in UAE. We want to sponsor our son but we hear that there’s a salary critiria but my husband has 3000 salary and me is 4500 salary ( with acc) it is possible to sponsor our son by combining our salary. What are the requirements and other options.

    Thanks a lot for your time and effort


  41. Hi, I am on an employment visa in a non fze company but i resigned after 8 months and didn’t finish my 2 years contract. But still my visa isn’t cancelled yet, my employer will cancel it on the 15th his month and he told me that he will give me an NOC. I want to apply with another company and I want to know what are my penalties or any ban if I transfer to another company? I came from a non fze company which should i apply best a fze company or same non fze company like before? And if in case my visa is cancelled in my previous employer and i have 1month to stay, Can i apply for another job? Please advise me. Thank you.

  42. Hi,

    “Greetings to all”

    I am bob. I was working in Dubai before. due to a medical emergency of my dad i left to my country with proper leave application. But i failed to return back to UAE due to some unavoidable reason. I have forwarded my resignation by fax to my company and they accepted the resignation. I have received a letter from my company that my resignation is accepted and in the same letter they asked me to send my passport for visa cancellation. Also they mentioned that if i am not send my passport they will put me as i am absconded and will cancel my visa. Unfortunately i failed to send my passport.

    Later i found a job in UAE before applying my visa my friend checked my old visa status and found that my old visa status is ” Person Run away Complain with labor department.

    Please advise how can i remove this ban. Also is it possible me to enter to UAE (Not for work just visit purpose)

    Would appreciate your reply.

  43. Sir, am from Nigeria and l need sponsorship for working visa. Thanks.

  44. I am 22yrs old, am a nigerian student bt I want to come and study and work and I will also go to acting school. What are the rquirement I wil nid. I am a student and also an actress. Ma Salam. Pls reply

  45. Sir ,
    i am 2nd wife of my husband .we both have same nationality(Pakistani) .can i get the husband visa .if yes then which documents are required.his 1st wife have husband visa .

  46. dear Sir,

    i am graduat from pakistan i have five year work experense office .
    i need work in uae but how can i come and requriment in this deasir uae.

    Thank n regard
    Anil roy

  47. Chaveen Wimalaratne says:

    Can somebody please tell me whether it’s a problem to work in the UAE if im 19 years old? ,by going through some sources i saw that you are eligible to work if the company you’re going to work is vouching for you. By the way as i was born in the UAE, though im not a citizen, will it be a plus point even though im 19?

  48. Hi
    I am on my husband’s residence visa in Dubai, and now am expecting.

    I am planing the birth of the baby back in home country India and going to India on july and come back only on april 2012 (more than 6 months out of UAE)
    If I stay out of UAE for more than 6 months due to delivery, whether my visa get cancel?
    Or is that ok to stay away from UAE for more than 6 months for delivery?
    If my visa got canceled what should I do? Do my husband have to apply for new Residence visa for me? And how much it cost?

    please reply in detail..

  49. my employer is refusing to release my passport back to me, and is asking for surety to be paid to them. In my contract there is no mention of surety or early cancellation costs if i decide to leave them and come home. In essence, i was to start a job that has not transpired as there is no restaurant or facility that is completed. I cant sit and not work, i am here to make money not sit around. I know it is illegal but common practice to hold passports, i am going to the police station to mention this to them about the employer. My consulate has advised this, not that they will help other than advice. Any other ideas or solutions?

  50. House please help me with this information as, i got a job with a company in the united Arab emirate, my appointment letter was sent to me via Email on October 1 2011, and up till now, i have not heard anything concrete from the company. Please advice on how long it will take the immigration authority in UAE issues the working visa to my employer.