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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  1. Hi,

    I got an offer in a finance company where there is no fixed pay, my job is to sell insurance and my earning would be the commission generated from the sell. The best thing they are sponsoring me to come to UAE. I am a resident of India. I have two questions:-

    1) As this is not a full time employment can i apply or do some part time or side jobs to earn some extra money along with the job offer i have? Is that legal.

    3) My office is in Abu Dhabi , How would I know if it is a Free zone?

    Kindly Help Sherry

  2. Somebody can help me please?
    My wife is still using old valid passport bearing her father’s family name. I am planning to sponsor her going to UAE. Her entry visa can be named after her passport name? If her entry visa will be named after my name while bearing an old passport with old name, does authenticated marriage certificate can be acceptable proof to UAE Immigration.


    • No need to change your wife’s surname in her entry visa.. She can enter UAE under her father’s surname and sponsor her as long as you have an authenticated marriage contract. I dont think it will cause any complications.

  3. Hi, Good day….

    I recently resigned from my Dubai-job due to my company already ‘s experiencing a downturn of assets and US troops demobilisation from IRAQ. We only deal with IRAQ contracts and the way the it goes has already made it clear to me that I have to go.

    My concern is, my sister here in Dubai is a dependent (husbands visa) but currently working in one of the largest and most reputable banks in UAE.

    My Question is, can she sponsor me as a visit visa holder with three months validity?

    Next, do i need to get out from the country(Dubai) and exit then come back on visit visa for three months validity?

    And lastly,

    If it is possible for her, what are the requirements to comply. Thank you.

    Kindly pls reply ASAP…..


  4. Hi,I would need some advice on my case. I was having a visa from Abu Dhabi and I was caught working for another sponsor.My sponsor did not file a case of absconding against me. I was caught in random checking and I got 1 month jail then I was deported. Just let me know do I get a life ban in this case or 1 year. Please advice me as I am planning to go back to Dubai as I having a job opportunity. Your advice and suggestions are welcome.

    Thank you.

  5. I have joined with the new employer in august 2010.
    My contract is Unlimited and position “Engineer” salary above 12K

    Basically my employer has given me an appointment order for manager but i have not given any signature for acknowledging such position.
    I brought one project, In the project contract agreement my superior is singed .They put me in that project to work as site manager.

    Company is not paying my salaries till date pending of 5 months, 6th month is running. Now we are not getting the money from the project which i brought.Our contract is back to back. they say they will pay us when they get money.

    I am trying to leave the company because of company having more liability in terms of clearing cheques because of material bought for this project, salaries not paid to all employees and not paying outside subcontractors.

    I am getting some offer from saudi, but my employer is not allowing me and threatening that he want me to bring all the money from the project otherwise he will put allegation , case etc., on me .

    I don’t have much money to face court cases, or even if the case runs can i leave U.A.E and go to saudi to join new employer.

    Please suggest me

    I am not paid salaries on top of that they don’t want me to join new company also. How do i survive?

  6. Hello,

    My work visa is about to get expired in next couple of months. It will for sure get renewed by the company. My question is should I apply for my wife’s VISA or should wait for the VISA to get renewed?

    She is going to join me for the first time after mairrage.


  7. my friend is working in limited contract 1750 Dhs his salary. He got other good job. what is the solution to join in other company. now he is under probationary period. four month only completed.

    How can he change his visa. Working company is ready to give NOC

  8. good morning there.

    currently im holding valid resient visa in dxb, due to metenity leave i will leave here more than 6month, if i want to metain the visa without re-apply before i return to dxb, can i pay certain fees before i leave? whats the procedure regards this , pls advice ?

  9. Hi Guys, is any one know about the benifits for dependents, in my contract my wife and daughter is approved dependent, but cmpany doesnt give any benifit for them, even visa renewl cost, medical etc..
    please any one can help me on this, is uae law saying any thing about this.


  10. Syed Muhammed says:


    I have some doubts about changing my trade(Job Title) Currently my job title is bakery worker but in this company i am working as system administrator i don’t have any attested certificate can i change my profession without certificate? somewhere i found that there is no need attested certificate for SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR to changing Job title. NO: 1133272 مشغل أنظمة كومبيوتر SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR I hope you will respond As soon as possible

    Thank you .

  11. Cenk Gokan says:


    We are travel agency in Turkey,We would like to work for dubai visas,Who can assist and partner with us!

  12. Hi, I want to bring my daughter from my country but I’m a single mom, is it possible to get my daughter and what are the requirements???thx in advance!!!

  13. Abhinav Rajey says:

    I have started a Free Zone company in UAE and I have got a Residence Visa . The issue is that I dont stay in UAE , I mostly stay in India . I visit UAE just to keep my Visa Valid . All my work is ONLINE , as such I need not be in UAE . Kindly advise if this is legal and I will not face any problems with the authorities in India or UAE

  14. miss minchin says:

    good day! id just like to know if we can get a residence visa for our kid even if he was born out of marriage in other country..e.g. he was born 2004 and we just got married on 2010..thanks for the info. god speed

  15. Hi there!! Is it possible to bring my daughter here in dubai even I’m not married with the father of my daughter. I’m a single mom…please kindly tell the procedure and requirements. Thank you..waiting for you reply.

  16. helo dear sir,
    iam work with a company from march 2010 to continue now i got a job in another compay and i am also sign a offer later now my new company say tahat they will exchange my visa due to this i resigne my compay r it possible and if it is possible how thy can do because if thy not do i am ban for six month and also los my job please tell me about this matter

  17. Hi,may i know the minimum age limit to work in from India..well some sources says that its 21 ,but some says its 20 …which one is right!Am really confused abt this..Hope u guys help me out in this

  18. linoy joseph says:

    Hi Friends. I’m currently working as finance professional in Dubai and leaving my current job to join a new one in Dubai. I have a query that will be my employer be able to ban me after a few days of my exit from U.A.E after getting my cancellation paper. Kindly advice. Your advice would be truly appreciated

  19. Hi,
    I want to know about my situation.Im a cancel residence visa from dubai freezone?
    I dont want to go back in my origin country and to exit in Iran (KISH)? From now Im still got interview everyday but not yet got a job, Is there any problems if I pay my overstaying here in dubaI? How much the fines? It easy for me to pay fines than to exit, cz I dont have enough money. My employer given me only 60 days is not enough to find job.I confused cz I have 9 days left? Pls. give me the advise. Hope hearing from you soon.
    Thank you

  20. HI,

    I have a job offer in dubai & this is the first time i have planned & Moving out of country for a job. Curently iam working in bangalore, I have been offered 3000AED as basic + 1750AED as housing for a position of Assistant Manager. My Quest is will this Salary will be sufficient to live in city like dubai, What salary i can expect for the position of Asst. Manager. What are other benefits I can ask during negotition. (Eg. Relocation expenses, About visa & ticket fares, Any legal registration expecnes, etc…)

    please guide me in this regards.

  21. I was staying in sharjah on my husband’s visa till june 2009.I came to india for vacation and didn’t go back and my visa expired on husband cheated his sponser he eloped from UAE and came india,now his passport is with his sponser,we don’t know how he reached here and i came to know he cheated many banks and he is a wanted person in UAE.Also he cheated me and i divorse him and some cases are there in family court also.Still his visa is in my passport and didn’t cancel manually,when i enquired many people they said only my EX husband can cancel my visa.he will never do that bcos he is wanted person in UAE ,so please help me to cancel my visa,bcos my ex husband is my sponser and he is banned to enter all gcc countries,is that ban is applicable to me?I want to come dubai and also saudhi for doing hajj and umras.So please help me and suggest me the rules and regulations as early as possible

  22. Hi, this is such an informative website. I m bit worried . I m here in Dubai on pink visa , my hubby sponsered me. I went for the medical to Satwa last thursday. Today I suppose to get it back but I got a call I have to go to Sunapur building 7 for the retest on Sunday. I m really worried. Can anyone please help me. Why did they call me and what worst could happen? please assist I ll be really grateful. Thanks

  23. Sir/Madam,

    I was work with Sharjah Hamariah Free Zone Visa as Draftsman. Now I changed my Designation to Labour Supervisor to getting Family Visa. Can I know- I want to Renew Old Emirates ID or it will automatically update online?


    Arun Kumar

  24. my company is winding up nxt month but my visa is till june 2012, can i stay till my visa lasts..

  25. Good day,my brother is working at one of the biggest company at dubai,his employer is processing his visa for a temporary residency visa, We are wondering that now I’m married to I still capable to his travel benefits.His company is giving a privilege ti his immediate family.hope to have your response asap.thanks.

  26. Dear Sir/ madam

    I have residence work permit visa in RAK Free zone in private company which is registered in Free trade zone authority in RAK and my name is mentioned in the trade license of the company as a manager and now got job in a company which is registered in Sharjah air port free zone(SAIF ZONE)Sharjah, now i want to transfer my visa from my exist company RAK FZ to SAIF ZONE so please guide me how should i do this, what documents will be required and will be must of NOC of exist company or not, another medical test will be required again or not.
    Please answer

  27. hi
    i have been offered a job in dubai, and they told me to wait for my visa to be approved. it is now three weeks and i havnt heard from them. what should i do? and how long does the visa take to be approved?
    i realy need help on this.

    • Paula, as there is a certain procedure to get the approval of e-quota therefore similar situation often raised. some times it takes more then month so don`t worry.

  28. Hello all,
    I want to visit UAE on a visitor visa in order to find a job for myself. I am a and MBA with one year of experience in my home country. What important things do i need to keep in mind while finalising with a company? Difference between free zone company and non free zone company? How much salary can i expect with my present education?

  29. i am from Pakistan . and want to know that if a girl is less then 27 would she be able to aply for visit visa?

  30. i am a Ugandan and i have been longing to work in Dubai, what can i do cos i can not afford the visa but i have the Ugandan passport. what can i do?

  31. Am coming to dubai to earn a living and If I get a job in dubai & my visa is 2weeks what wil I do & what will happend & I don’t want to go back to Nigeria. Is there any money am going to pay I wil pay to rmain in dubai. .pls reply.

  32. one company is going to hire me in dubai. he mailed me he will issuing visit visa. is it all right?. then when will they issue employment visa to me. can i believe this company. please help me in this regards.

  33. sir
    i am warking as an engineer in an industry in dubai my contract is limitted and expiring in december 2013.after two year, can i move to other company without ban?

  34. Person holding tourist visa ,he can apply for employement visa? if so he need to exit before applying visa or after approval of dat?

  35. Sir/Madam
    l recieved job offer letter from a company named EMECO in UAE(Abudhabi). So l canceled my old employment visa on 4-september-2011 and returned to lndia thinking that l will receive new employment visa soon. But till today i didnt receive visa. what can i do now. plz help me by giving proper answer.

  36. sir/medam,
    i was been working one company almost 7year.i leave this company & joint new company resident visa last this owner if don’t want me what shoud i get from? i request that give me 6 month salary i will leave if don’t want me.if owner leave me to go i get ban how long? please send me feed back thank’s.

  37. hello just want to confirm if it is true that it is already prohibited for visit visa/ tourist visa holders to hunt for a job. Once caught, you will be banned and deported. This is what my friend told me and UAE government will going to implement this law this coming year 2012. Anyone who can tell me if it is really true?

  38. Dear nash,

    is it possible for changing visit visa to job visa without exiting from i am in visit visa,i got job in one company,i have given all the documents for applying visa,but know i have doubt that will it able for applying job visa when i am still in visit visa here.


  39. fazal basha says:

    sir: i come visit visa for 3 mont iget empaloyment contrct form other company apply myemployment visa i get work permit has peen approved company not paybank guarantee 3 year i work now i am plack listed eye scan in al aweer i have ministry of labour letter:note that cancellation details will be transferred to the system ofresidency dept for further processing of residence visa cancellation please make sure to visit residency dept to complete thecancellation process to avoid any fines. please helpme to remove

  40. I am working as a P.R.O,in one company so i want know the all rolls of Immigration and labor office in dubai

  41. Dear sir,

    I am working in a company for last 4 years and now I got an offer from another company . My wife and son is on my dependent visa . she is also working with a company ( labour card provided). Please advise the best way to change my job to the new company without canceling the dependent visas.


  42. Manmohan Khandelwal says:

    Hello Sir

    I am manmohan Khandelwal and recently i got the job in UAE Citi Bank and i also get my visa it’s valid till 26 Jan 2012 but my Sister marriage is 27 Jan 2012 so i want to go after 27 Jan 2012 it is possible that can i am extend my visa it is possible from any source. please tell me as soon as possible.

  43. dr trivikram pareek says:

    Dear Sir,
    i am on tourist visa valid upto 15 jan 2012. i am getting a job here. They are sponsoring me resident visa in free jone. Is it legal to get resident visa without going back to my country? or else what is the best option for me.

  44. I’m working in dubai as accounts supervisor.My wife and baby is over here for a can i apply visa for them under my baby 1 1/2 years.If somebody can guide me,that will be realy greatful.And god will realy bless you bcs there is no one there to guide me.

  45. Me and my husband were both working in same company in Dubai for 4 years,both sponsored by our employer.Our salary is capable to sponsor.I want to get my 6 years old son in the Philippines.How can I proceed to get him?pls teach me on how to do it.
    Thank You!

  46. Hello, i’am 23 year old female- Ethiopean national, want to travel to UAE (Dubai) by myself, Can i get a visa or i need to be accopmanied by someone? Please advise as soon as possible.

    thank you.


  47. Sir I am a locally hired by one of the prestigious company here in Dubai.My question is If you are working for one year in the com and you’re planning to look other job and you find a job with the same position is it possible to give a NOC and I have no ban yet???or any payment to the company??

  48. Hi,

    I am moving to Dubai, my husband already resides out there, he has told me i will need certain documents including degree certificate, passport etc. the thing is i graduated but never achieved a honours degreei just got a degree. does this change circumstances in applying or is it ok as i still have a degree? please help

  49. hi…im on visit visa but i already found a job in sharjah. my employer already applied for my employment visa. he said that in order for him to get my employment visa (or for the ministry to release it), i should exit to another country. i also extended my visit visa and it is still valid until jan 16, 2012. my concern is, it is possible that i will not exit from uae and still my employer can get my employment visa? because i have already heard of the “airport to airport” exit, where you have your employment visa on your hands and what you’ll be needing is the exit and entry stamp. please give me claer explanation for this. thanks.

    • Dear Nienie,

      There is no need for exiting for getting employment visa.there is an option for paying 600AED so that you can change to employment visa without can check with the emigration department for details

    • thank you,nijas for replying! i’ll be checking this in the immigration.

  50. hello,
    I have jus resighned from my previous company and just been 10 months with them as i i have got a better offer.

    Do i require to exit the country to get the visa changed or can i stay here.