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. Hello all.
    I have arrived to the United Arab Emirates on a tourist visa, and have found here work. Now my company should make a working visa for me. Tell please that after I could make the sponsor’s visa to my wife, It depends on a position in company or it is connected only from the size of the salary?
    Because I have a diploma but it isn’t assured in consolatory in my country of the United Arab Emirates. Whether my diploma will demand labor office at visa opening.


    • Dear Armen,

      Congrats on your job!

      Your salary should be AED 4000/- for issuing a wife visa.


  2. Hi dear frends,

    your valuable information provided and contributed here is really helpful.
    i am in a look out for a job, currenly i am working as HR cum office manager in a free zone copamny in dubai.
    they are shifting their admin operations to jordan , so i am look for another one..
    any suggestions!!
    i have applied thru gulf news etc sources…

  3. i am teacher,i need residence visa for my 2 year salary is this possible?

  4. varun puri says:

    i am currently on employment visa in dubai . i would like to visit japan . as i am indian national what could be the best possible way to apply for visa? As i am on resident visa (dubai).
    thanking you.

  5. hi..i’m planning to go to UAE (DUbai) to hunt for a job…a friend of mine will be sponsoring my visit visa. i wanna know when will be the reckoning point of the validity of my visit visa? would it be from the time it is released or from the date of my entry in UAE?

  6. hi
    what is this 6 months probation, due to the new labor law in UAE can i change my job within the first six months or should i complete 2 years working for the company?
    by signing the contract can i consider myself committed for two years with the same company otherwise i get a ban?
    is there any rule saying that even if i want give the visa fees to the employer i would get a ban anyway ?
    what should i do if i find a better job within 6 months and in case that happened after a year, can i pay the visa fees to my employer and resign? is it easy to pay the ban fee if my employer did not let accept to take my visa money and let me go?

    thank u sooooooo much for the answer/s.

  7. hi everyone.. i just wanna ask if how long will it take for visit visa to approve in uae?? i plan to find job wil the company possibly give me a employment permit or working visa? another thing, bec me and my bf plan to get married in dubai.. is it possible if i can have a husband visa?? how can i apply for this?? i need ur opinions pls.. thanks a lot..

  8. Hi,
    I have single status on my contract signed on 03/01/2010.
    I got married later on april 2010

    and I requested my company to change my status to married and got my wife allowance (medical insurance & air ticket… etc) and the company not giving me that.

    Is there any role on the labour law saying any thing regarding this topic.

    my gross salary is 13000 AED monthly (basic salary: 8650 AED, home allowance: 4000AED, other allowance 350 AED, plus mobile line, company car, salik, petrol, medical insurance)



  9. Kuganeshan says:

    Dear Sir,

    i want to know my visa provided by company and worked up to 1 year and 7 month
    i have been terminated 19th feb and effected 20th feb from company due to some personal issue i requested the exten my teminmation from MD up to june and also aprrove by our MD… now form HR they are telling that they hv cancelled my visa.
    just need to know is it possible to cancell my visa with out informing and my signature,if they hv done the cancalization without my signature wat action i can take

    please guide me hw i can relive from this

    Thank You

  10. i have a uae residence visa, which will renew on may 2011 as it expires on same time. can i apply for 3 months visit visa for my parents on march 2011 ? your earliest responce is highly appreciated…reply plse

  11. hai Dear,,

    I want to know only one thing,Now am on employment visa and my doubt is that can i change my designation in stamped visa.Is it possible to change easily..Please give me an immediate reply

  12. I am having uae residence visa under sponsorship of my husband. i came to India last year for my delivery, as i had some complications i had to stay i want to go back with my baby next month. that is exactly after one year. what procedures should i follow for reentry to Dubai..

  13. mir ishaq ali says:

    i would like to ask you somthing regarding jebelali freezone visa sir i had worked in dubai jebelali freezone for 4 years due to some personal problem i have not went back from my vacation now its all most 2 years not got good appirtunity to go back to dubai on dubaivisa

    please advice

  14. Dear Sir,

    I am workingin dubai, and i wish to bring my wife on visit visa. she is 23 years old.I will be applying th visa through the travel agent.Kindly confirm if i will get the visa.I have a attested marriage certificate.

    Please let me know as i wish apply by end ofthis week.

  15. NAGARAJ says:

    What is the posibilites to sponser my wife and my son( 1 year old ),
    Now my present salary is 3050 and my designation is Archives clerk
    Is there any option that deposit money to get my family visas.

  16. I’m a male South African and a company in Dubai is sponsoring my working visa, I’m waiting now 3 weeks and still doent have it, how long does the procedure take?

  17. Hi everyone
    Can anyone plz tell me is there any age restrcition for single ladies below 30 yrs of age who want to travel alone to Dubai from Pakistan on visit visa ? some travel agents are sayig that above 25 are allowd to go, and some saying not ! some are saying that if my uncle sponsors my visa from UAE then i can go alone ? i m 25 years of age now.

    plz guide me if there are really any such restrcitions from Pakistan or from UAE govt for single ladies ? kindly suggest me some solution plzz.

  18. Hello
    I am in dubai for a month looking for a job from london!
    I heard that if i get a job and accept and then switch jobs without my contract finishing with my current employer they will ban me from dubai! what is the process if you would like to switch jobs in dubai?

  19. hi there everybody
    i had a uae resident visa before six months i came back to my country and didn’t go back to UAE for six months after that i cancelled my visa now i want to take another visa pls guide me what is the procedure do i need to start from zero do a health check and do all the process like i did the first time i came to uae and what about my driving liecense can i change it to my new visa or like what

    thanks alot
    hope to have an answer from you?



    iam mohammed abdul shabbir i was working in dubai last 12 years and i loved dubai very much with my heart due to some family problem and company crises resasion time i came to india and i could not go back to duba so i have not cancelled the visa in my passport my profession was an “account” and also i have some credit card and personnel lone which i am ready to pay as iam muslime in my life i dont want 1RS credit i will pay that iam ready to make agreement with banks

    bu my quest is can i enter u.a.e. without cancelling my visa after one year

    or can i apply for another job visa without canceling my previous visa

    or how can i cancelled may be my old sponser will not cancelled can i cancelled drirect u.a.e. embassy please suggest me iam very eagarly waiting

    with the best regards
    mohammed abdul shabbir

  21. Govardhan says:

    Dear Sir,

    I am working in construction company as office assistant/document controller but visa status is “labor”, i have secondary school certificate and i have completed 4.5 years. I looking for job in other company can I join in other company without ban according new labor law. please advice me.

    I am waiting for your reply

    your faithfully,

    govardhan chellem

  22. I was living in Dubai for more than 5 years. It was during the recession that I lost my job. I had a couple of bank loans and didn’t have an option to pay it back because I lost my job. Due to this, I had to flee the country without cancelling my residence visa.

    My query is;

    1. Will the banks file a case against me as an absconder since I couldn’t pay my bank loans?
    2. Will I be able to enter UAE if I am willing to pay back my loans?

  23. Hi!

    I’m planning to get a visit visa after window period expires (FZE still to cancel the visa).

    My questions are:

    1) can i do visa run to oman or kish and return on visit visa within few days or do i have to go outside for 30 days before visit visa can be issued?

    2) do i have labour ban coz i resigned from FZE after 5 months only (6 month is the probation period)

    3) any complication if i transfer to AUH non-FZE?

    i really really appreciate your help in this. the FZE entity is awaiting my decision to cancel and I am hesitant to cancel if this would result in me having a ban or getting difficulty in transfers.


  24. Nirav Bhatt says:

    Dear All,

    I am holding Employment Visa of 3 years and its just been 4 months completed in my current employer, now i want to change company and want to search other job, can i change company before completion of 1 year ?? my currant employer is ready issue NOC. please need your suggestions.


  25. Hai

    i joined in a non-freezone co. in dubai. i got visa stamped in my passport. now i want to change my sponsor due to some reasons. my visa stamped on 06.01.2011.

    Is it possible?

    please reply


  26. Hi! i am working as a husband visa in our company with no labor card.The problem is, our salary gets delayed for 5 months and they issued me a PDC cheques for my outstanding salary but then they still hold the cheques for some reason still no funds. Do i have the right to claim my outstanding salaries if i have to go to the labor office even if i dont have a labor permit? Can i still get my salary?

    Thank you so much.

  27. I m on my husband’s visa and now he is in process of resigning from his current job. Suppose he gets the visa cancelled for himself as well as for me. Is is possible that after cancellation he leaves UAE but I stay for 30 days grace period and then leave?

  28. sir
    my passport u a e vise residence stam i have no u i d number so can u give my u i d number

    thank you

    • hi,
      me and my wife are working in different companies and are expecting our child next month in dubai. is it possible for any one of us to sponsor for our child.please enlighten me. with the due formalities.

  29. i am a Saudi job visa holder, i came to India for vacation, IE, re entry , now i am not going back to Saudi, i got a new visa to uae , whether i can work in uae, (because Saudi employment visa automatically canceled, do i have any problem in Dubai airport or employmen5t visa in Dubai

  30. Dear Friend
    when i register a branch in any freezone , can i sponsor many employment visas?
    is there any cap for sponsoring employment visas for number of people?

  31. hi,Nash!

    I’ve been working in current company for 1 and half years, and i got a new offer(I’m a university degree holder,and salary is above 12000, so i was told i can get the new labour permit even i worked less than 2 years.)

    I’ve already cancelled my Labour card(Not VISA), boz my wife is under my sponsorship, and she is working now. Immigration officer told me i can deposit 5000 there in the immigration to hold my wife’s visa until my new visa got sucessfully processed, but i have to provide my LABOUR APPROVAL.

    and the problem is, the new company doesn’t want to apply for my new labour permit(boz they need me to cancel both my Labour card and VISA at same time, then they’ll process my new labour permit).

    If i cancel my visa now, it’l affect my wife.
    So, is it really necessary that i can’t apply for a new labour permit without cancel my current visa as what the new company told me?

    Thank you so much for ur help.

  32. hussain says:

    Dear Sir,

    My question is, can an employer cancel visa in absence of an employee.
    if some one on long leave (matualy agreed with employer) and then the employer didnt call back rather wants to cancel employee visa.. is possible even if the employee is not agreed nor empolyee has given any written for cancellation.

    plz answer my two part of question.


  33. hussain says:

    My question has two parts:

    Can employer cancel employee visa in his absence if employee is out of uae and is on vacation and if employee doesnt want so

    second if an employer does so, what an employee should do to appeal if he cant allowed to enter


  34. A.Z. Khan says:

    Hi Sherry/Nash,

    First of all thank you so much for clarifying so many questions to all your inquirers. I too need your advice as below;

    > Cancelled FZE visa “sales manager” 2yrs service without any ban.
    > New visa is from Dubai Company “sales manager” with total salary AED13K,
    > Family visa put on hold using new company labour approval.
    > Visa status changed to new company (for not exiting UAE) and medical under process (not completed). No labour contract has been signed as of now.
    > I’ve a new offer from another Freezone DIC company for “Sales manager” with great package,

    My questions:
    > Can I resign because I’m on a probationary period of six months, with/without notice?
    > Do I need to first process the visa of Dubai employer (signing labour contract etc) and then go for cancellation or is there a way to cancel visa without stamping it on the passport?
    > will this carry any ban (six month or 1 year)?
    > Does new employer needs anything apart from my cancelled visa? or do they need to pay any fee in the Freezone?
    > what will happen to my family visas that are still on hold?

    I would appreciate your response as this will help me immensely in taking calculated risk?


  35. HI! my husband got an immigration ban for absconding case. Just want to ask if someone encountered that If a government company can lift his ban for future employment.

    • BAN can be lifted only if the original sponsor who reported your husband absconding retracts and apply to immigration for lifting of the BAN!

  36. Vijayakumar says:

    My wife had a resident visa, and as she got pregnant, she was been send back for delivery.She had been out of the country for the last 15months. Can she come back on the same visa? What are the formalities?

    • Please call Dubai Immigration +97143980000, a family visa can be reinstated only if it’s still valid. You may need to apply a new visa, if it’s not valid anymore!

  37. Hello Sir/Madam,

  38. Hello Sir/Madam,
    i m working in realestate company my visa on my passport stamped since last 3 months and my salary contract with my sponser 700+800 accomadation just for legal purpose but when he interview me he offer me 2000 AED basic and 10 percent commission on ever deal no he is nor paying me basic neither paying commission i was not having driving licence but he spend on my driving licence 5000 AED but he took my signature on a slip where it was wrritten that i owe him 14000 AED now he always blackmailing me that he will present or complain with that slip to police that i owe him 14000 AED wich i have never took and i think till one year or six month i will not be able to transfere my employer please help me i m in need of help .how can i coup with this person he has many police personnel friends .

  39. i am 24 years old girl from pakistan i want to some to uae at visit visa i have no blood relation over there is it possible to get visit visa

    • Emirates/Etihad Airline are now providing visit visas once you book Online with them, check with your nearest Travel Agency or the airline websites.

  40. hi i am 24 years old pakistani grl i want to get visit visa for uae…. i have no blood relation there….. is it possible or not.. reply me as soon as possible regards

  41. im working in jeddah saudi arabia but i have exit visa this coming april 22 going to philippines but at the same time i have a working visa in dubai and tiket at the same time of my exit in jeddah it will be possible to used my dubai ticket and visa going to dubai

  42. hi, my husband was working for standard chartered holdings and he resigned within 6 months and didnt get his NOC, now does he have a labor ban on him? how can he get an employment visa without labor ban?

    • Labor BAN is applied only incase of a UAE company, meaning not Freezone. Yes, there will be a default BAN of 6 months and NOC can’t avaoid this. If new job is in Freezone, Labor BAN is not applicable.

  43. Hi, my girlfriend is currently on a Father’s visap. She’s working here in dubai as an assistant teacher in a British school (It is required in her job to be under husband or father’s sponsorship). Presently, I’m working as a waiter here in dubai and as you know, I’m not capable of sponsoring anybody with my salary. I just want to know if she can still retain her father’s visa even if we get married and if she gets pregnant after? Can you please advice us on what to do because we want to get married as soon as possible. Thank you for you kindness.

    • You should consult with Dubai Courts for legal formalities for spouse after marriage, I think your wife can still remain on fathers visa until you can sponser her. Marriage can be legal as far as you do it in a court of law.

  44. servent vis how can chang with out ban

  45. Kindly, I need to know what about my wife’s visa if my visa is transferred to another company in dubai
    both companies are free zones
    my wife is outside the country

  46. My husband who was working at Abudhabi came to India for his Mother’s surgery. And cannot go to abroad till 1 year. Now the company has asked to send the passport for visa cancellation. Else they will block his name in the list and cannot enter UAE ever in his life.
    I know the visa cancels automatically if the person does not go to UAE in 6 months time.
    Please advise accordingly, if whether it is possible that if the name is blocked than the person cannot travel to the country throughout his life.
    Awaiting your reply.
    Thank you.

    • Yes, to avoid the BAN you should arrange the original passport to be sent to the sponsor (prefferably using a friend in UAE), otherwise, sponser can declare your husband absconding, this can lead to a life time ban.

  47. What is the punishment for visa sponsors who have absconded? Also can they pay a fine and re-apply for visa?

  48. Eleonora says:

    Hello everyone! My mate is in serious trouble, so hope to get any feedback and some info out here!
    Here is the story:
    Vicky – is my UKRAINIAN friend, she has been here almost 4years now. She is married to a UAE citizen men and they have a baby(Ahmed-Who is 3years now, and also UAE citizen). Their marrige didn’t go well so far, however she is still on “husband visa”, wich is going to be expaired after 2month or so…
    So, here is the question: CAN HER BABY BE HER SPONSOR?(as he is also UAE citizen?) And if not, what is the procedure after devorce? All that she wants is to stay still in UAE and have her baby naxt to her!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks alot for reading, any comments are apriciated.

  49. Dear Sherry/Nash,

    I want to hold my wife’s visa as I’m transfering job from UAE to JAFZA, I was told that I need 5K as a deposit, passport copies (me & my wife), cancellation receipt and appoinment letter. As I went to typing center, the guy who looked at my documents and told that I need a letter from JAFZA. What is it? How to obtain that? Do I need my appointment letter be authenticated in JAFZA? or it’s a different letter? Please advise.

    thanking you,

    • Jayson, I think Sherry/Nash aren’t following this thread anymore.

      Anyhow, I may be able to give you a brief answer – Docs for Holding family visa (original passports/copies/ offer letter from JAFZA not your hiring company as JAFZA is the sponser in Arabic/ Dhs5K deposit/ Dhs130 fees/ for cancellation papers needed or not check with JAFZA first 80052392), best is you talk to the PRO of your new company.

  50. Hi

    My husband has been here before back October 2008 but when his residence visa was in process, there had been a problem with his medical test, he was positive with Hepa-B virus. My question is, is there any possibility he can still come back here and work? (of course after treatment)
    Or is there any lifetime ban for this case?

    I can give him secondary sponsor as well.

    Would appreciate your reply.

    • Hi Sereth,

      I think when somebody has been infected with Hepa-B virus his blood will test +ve for this virus forever.