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. My wife is currently working now in a small company under my visa. I signed a NOC to that company to be able to process her labor card. she will be one year in February 2012. My question is,
    1. can she leave that company and seek for a new job?
    2. if she resigns, it will gonna affect her residence visa?
    3. will she get ban for working?

    I hope somebody can help my concerns, anyways I’m from Abu Dhabi. Thanks..

  2. Hi

    I have a british and south african passport and i want to go to dubai and south africa for a holiday.
    The problem is that i havent notified south african embassy. that means i cannot travel to south africa with my british passport.
    I want to go to dubai before flighing to south africa. Can i fly to dubai with my british andd leave with my south african passport to south africa.

  3. I have a FreeZone employment visa that expired when I stayed out of the country for more than 6 months (my employer agrees and knows why, but has not cancelled the visa). Now I want to return to the UAE on a visit visa (I have a new passport, as well). Should there be any problems with that?

  4. hi,im currently in Dubai and i came here on a tourist visa(emirates airline).ive extended it the one time that you are allowed to. I got a job offer just now.My visa expires on the 10th of nov and due to Eid holidays…my employer did not apply.However they are going to apply now.
    My question is,can i stay here till i get my visa change? and pay the fine which is 200 dhms the first day and then a 100dhms everyday as the labor card should come in a weeks time and once my visa changes i exit the country to come back.
    If i did this,would it be unlawful or affect my work visa status??

    • As far as i know it will not affect to your visa.How can i know? I got a job exactly same way and same situation like you.But the only problem is either you or your employer have to pay the fine and remember if the process take long time you need pay a higher amount! So now its up to you. I found it better to go back to my country with a small amount fine and came back again after the employment visa issued. Thanks.

  5. Please help as I desperately need advice asap.

    I was employed by a media company but left Dubai in February 2009 without cancelling my residence or labour visa. The company I worked for hadn’t paid us for months and I had no money to survive. My health suffered and I had a nervous breakdown. Also my sister in the UK was very ill and in hospital so I had to return home. My company would not pay me nor cancel my status in Dubai, so I left without cancellation of my visas taking place.

    I have now been offered another employment in Dubai and wonder what I can do to facilitate my return bearing in mind that my visa and residency permit were not cancelled when I left over 2 years ago.

    Many thanks for your help in this matter.


  6. My UAE residence visa will get over on 24Th of nov 2011, after cancellation I have plan to go to Qatar in visit visa direct from Dubai. Is that possible????

  7. Hai sherry,
    As you are working as a PRO i think you are the apt person to clear my doubt… please clarify my doubt with highest priority…………..

    I am a male nurse working with a construction company since December 2010.I am in an unlimited contract with a basic salary of 7000 AED per month and food with acomodation provided by the company.My visa status is Nurse general.Now i got a new job offer with another hospital with total salary of 13950 AED (basic salary of 5250 AED and allowance 8700 AED).Am i eligible to change the job,or whether i will be affected by labour ban.or if affected by ban,can it be lifted….

  8. Denny Mathew says:

    how the immigration department counting the 6 months . will they count the person travelling date.
    suppose a person travelling from dubai on 17th may . does they count the day which the person is flying.

  9. my name is sonu i working in dubai last one year now i completed my one year last oct now i wanna change my job one campny offer me job but i have labour visa if i will leave my present campny they will give me ban or not or lab our

  10. Hi sherry!

    I have been terminated from an llc company and so i have been served with 6 momths ban. i have transferred to a company who gave me a hotel visa which has llc indicated after its company name. i am wondering how it is possible for them to give me an llc visa even though i have 6 months ban? is it true that hotels are not within the scope of labor laws therefore not in the scope of labor ban? and our pro also said that what we currently have is immigration visa and not freezone visa, what does this mean? please answer these questions, me and my workmates are going to appreciate it so much. thanks!

  11. can, anyone sponsor me for employment visa,
    i am commerce graduate and wish to work and live dubai.

  12. Vinod Jangid says:

    Hello Friends,
    I’m a commerce graduated with my graduation certificate duly authenticated by the UAE Embassy in Delhi.
    I have worked for a Dubai company for three years from 06.06.08 to 05.05.11 (Visa validation & cancellation dates). My labour contract with my employer says I’m not supposed to work with a competitor for two years for from the date of cancellation of my visa. Does this clause come into effect even if I join a free zone company on a managerial position. What if come on board as an investor?

  13. hi .
    i am in abu dhabi . i am a licensed doctor and came here on tourist visa which is still active for further 1 month, my questions are if i gor a temporary work permit ,would it be legal upon it while waiting employment visa ? and if i got the employment visa while i am here do i need to get out uae or i can pay 500 AED and transfer and stamp it from inside ? what is the immediate next step after this ,to get the medical checkup or do the ID procedure?and woh long time in estimation does it need to complete all till stamping the residency in my passport?thanks for your reply.

  14. ahamedkutty says:

    can you help me .my wife visa valid for 2013 ,but now she is in India and also more than six months in uae.somebody knowing formalities for re entering with same visa.

  15. i have a question plz help me out , i m on labour card rite now but i m on my mothers visa , and i want to leave the company in which i m working in , wht are the clauses i will have to face and can they put ban on me and do i have to pay them any amount ,


    dear sir,
    Before few days ago I renewed my visa in UAE but my picture on my passport(ok) & visa picture was attached of an another person’s picture.
    so, I am in very tensed because when I will go through airport . the authority will not give the permission to go. so pls help me what I will do?

    with regards

  17. Hi
    I want to know after my boss cancel my residence visa and my contract is finish already how many days i can stay in uae.


    thank you

  18. 14 Nov 2011, I submitted my Pakistani passport to DMCC JLT office for approval how long does it take to get the approval? because my visit visa will expire on 21st Nov, Please reply me ASAP

  19. charlie sadian says:

    Good day to all! i am a male nurse would like to ask how much is the cost for applying employment visa, one of the immigration lawyer is asking me for 5910 AED for processing my documents need answer please?

  20. my husband is working in uae and i wants to shift to uae with my husband . what will be the procedure for it and what will be the minimum time duration within which i can shift to UAE with my husband.

  21. I have one qustion , I came here on Employment visa to dubai and I don’t want to stay here and want to go back , I not finish my medical yet and no residency visa …what is the procedure to exit can I go back and need permission from Sponcer

    Please reply and thanks for understanding

  22. Hi,

    I completed my engineering by Jun 2011 from VTU University, India…I have got my 8th sem certificate, but I did not get my convocation certificate. I am in Dubai now and I have job offers. The company is asking to attest my certificates. But I didn’t get my degree certificate till now. They have to issue visa as engineer as I have to travel most of the middle east countries . The college has applied in my 8 th sem for degree certificate . So please let me know is there any chance to attest somehow or can I get convocation certificate as soon as possible.I will be getting provisional degree certificate within 15 days.But will it be any use for me to get engineer visa. Otherwise I will lose many of my job offer…Is there Any way I can get soon degree certificate or any other method to attest..please help…

  23. I am working in LLC company in shj my contract is unlimited and i have completed 1.3 years of service, i want to switch my job, if my employer give me NOC; so there is a ban for 6 months or not?
    Thanks n waiting for reply

  24. Hi,

    I want to know that what all documents would be required by my husband working in Dubai for sponsoring my visa. What would be the charges for all the proceedings in Dubai. Currently, i have been residing in India. After coming to Dubai can i also start working over there or do i have to take certain permissions for that. Plz explain out the procedures for all this.

  25. mohamed ramzeen says:

    i was working for a grand hotel dubai five years before but when i was on emergency leave i couldnt return to dubai because my mother expired. now i need to go for job in dubai am i can get employement visa? how many months are they band? i need a clear reply am i can work or not in dubai.

  26. please please please read my problem and help me..
    i get bannede in UAE becoz of Hapitites B antigen Surface anad After Came to Pakistan from UAE 3 specialest Doctors Have been investigated and test Hapitites B. But all the doctors showed result Negative.
    please tell me how can i go back and remove my bann? please please please tell me..

  27. dave stanley says:

    i have a residence visa as partner/manager in a design company that is having to move from my Dubai office due to lack of work and rent. i have been offered office space within a free zone company to enable me to continue as a free lance design company for their projects. i have 3 employees who will also transfer with me to the free zone. what am i obliged to do to enable my residence visa to continue and also continue working and to retain the employment of my 3 staff?. i am over 60 years old, i am sponsor to my wife and we also own our residential property in Dubai. i would welcome your opinion.

  28. Hi. I want to take my son and his step father from Dubai but the Uae embassy they need the acknowledged from the original father but I don’t know where he is and idont have t communications with him at all so the emmbassy Uae in Philippines need the sinature of the father of my son but I don’t know we’re he is s the problem is no body will sign. Birt certificate if there any option to take him coz they said in Uae embassy that the rules Dubai just want to know if there any option to take my son to go to Dubai

  29. hi Sir,
    sir i worked in dubai for one year .then i came vication of one year.when i came in my contry my father has been can,t came back in visa is not canceeled. i want to cancel my visa, my visa has been expired .how can i cancell my visa. now i m in pakistan.and i want to cancell my visa.and i want to go back to dubai.sir plzzzzzzzz help me i want to work again in dubai.

  30. please please please read my problem and help me..
    i get bannede in UAE becoz of Hapitites B antigen Surface anad After Came to Pakistan from UAE 3 specialest Doctors Have been investigated and test Hapitites B. But all the doctors showed result Negative.
    please tell me how can i go back and remove my bann? please please please tell me..
    please i am intese waiting for ur reply.. plz plz answet

  31. can a non married girl of 24 years old can get visiting visa for uae ? says:

    can a non married girl of 24 years can get visiting visa for uae?

  32. Hi,

    I joined in a Company based in Abu Dhabi in July’11 on a Un Limitted Contract. The Company terminated me before the completion of my probation period(3 months) mentioning my performance. Will it be any ban for me. How can I overcome it. If I get an NOC from my company can I avoid the ban. My Designation on my visa was follow up clerk.

    2-If ban is there, how will the new company know it if they pay more than 5000 AED

    3- If I get a Job in free zone can I join?

    Looking forward for your early response and your early action will be much appreciated

    Kind Regards

  33. mazghan ali butt says:

    i am pakistani national n my wife also she get married with me in pakistan 2 years before n after that she come here in uae without my permission she make passport on her father name n get uae visa also on her father sponsorship n tell lie here that she is not married so now i am come to uae n i want to know that how and where i submit complain against her about her visa that she get after telling lie ?

  34. Hi,

    i have a partner visa in there any problem to process a employee visa in other company..

  35. my mother still works at UAE and i was born at UAE,
    can i still acquire residence visa even if i am 22? do i have any birth rights to acquire one?

  36. Hi!
    I want to apply a visit or tourist visa for my friend to come here and find a job. She is 21 years old. I contacted a travel agent and they informed that no way to apply her a visa as she is below 25 years and not travelling with parents. Is there any possibility for me to apply a visit or tourist visa for her?


  37. HI! A French employer is hiring me to be his private nurse.He is asking me to process my VISA, work/residence permit. He is asking me to send him by email a photocopy of my valid passport and pay him AED5,910 for the processing of the said VISA. He said payment is refundable and he will send me by email my VISA. Is that the correct or legal way of processing my VISA. Thank you and Hoping to hear your answer soon.

  38. Venkatachalam says:

    I come to Sharjah on 02.10.2011 in Employment visa. Due to management decisions, they did not take any actions for my medical and they want to cancel my visa before stamping my passport. Now I heard that I have normal ban for 6 months. Is it true and how I can come and join with other company immediately.

    Please assist me on this matter.

  39. Hi all,

    Can anyone help me with my two questions below;

    I am currently sponsored by a Dubai Free Zone company. I might be changing jobs to a company located in Abu Dhabi. I have a personal loan going on which is linked to my salary transfer bank account. If I change visa from the dubai company to the abu dhabi company, do I need to exit the country? Because as soon as I cancel my visa, my bank might not allow me to leave the country. I was told that you no longer need to exit the country to change employment visa/sponsor, is this true?

    Also, if an employee has completed more that 2 years with an employer – do they still need an NOC?

    Thanks in advance.

  40. Hi,

    I have a doubt and I dont know if you can help me.
    I am under my husband´s visa but soon I will join a free zone company that wants me to have my visa with them. Can I transfer from my husband´s visa to the company one? Do I have leave the countrie?
    Thanks for your help.

  41. Dear sir i have lost my passport recently one week back i have searched it everywhere, have doubt that my son might have put it in the dustbin , has it was in my bag that i took it for making xerox copy of visa page, now my visa is going to expire on 23rd of november 2011, can u pls guide me how to complain for passport and the procedures, i am terribly tensed by this.

  42. Hello,
    My visa is already expired and haven’t been cancelled because I have a pending case in the court against my previous employer. The court gave me a letter so that i can apply for a temporary work permit for 6 months. My question is, Can i go in and out of the country even if I only have temporary work permit? Would that be consider as a visa?

    looking forward for all your replys..

  43. Hi Sir,

    Is that true visit visa closed for Etiopians? and what about the Employment and other visas, Please i want to know this as soon as possible?

  44. Hi,
    My brother has got an offer from a firm in Dubai Freezone. He is going on a Visa which has a title called Employment but it is valid only for a month. He says that once he goes to Dubai, he will be offered a work permit . Can u let me know what is the procedure?


  45. hi everyone, im currently working here in kalba, shrajah as a dental assistant, i work 2 and a half yrs now, my question is: i am a single mother and my daughter is 3 yrs old now and staying in the Philippines with my mother. Is there anyway i could bring my daughter here in UAE, if yes, is there a possibility that she can stay here with me and study here as well..

    thank you!

  46. hello!
    ..i just have a few questions regarding ban in entering there any lifetime ban in dubai?..please answer.thank you.

  47. what is the minimum age to get employment visa?

  48. Hello,
    I went to Dubai with a tourist visa, I got a job, I signed the contract….meanwhile my employee submitted my papers for employment visa but for some issue in my passport (i am a Bangladeshi citizen) the PRO office return my passport and told me to resolved the problem. I then made it alright and my boss submit the passport again. I got the security clearance while i was in Dubai, but for my visa is expired i had to come back to my country. So my question is how long does it take usually to issue an employment visa?….then i can go back and start my job.
    Note: my boss said it is processing…and take may be 10 days.
    Would appreciate your reply.

  49. Can I visit Dubai on a Tourist Visa for 10 days, return back to my country and then apply for a Visit Visa (sponsored by my spouse) in 5 days?
    How long does a Resident’s Visa takes to process?

  50. i was in dubai last 24 years, i lost the 2 year back. i taken visit & tryed for job;but i didnt. then mean time i got credit card issue too, so me not able to take new visa. now how can i go forward to stay in U.A.E? how i can take a visa?