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. musinguzi solomon says:

    hi this solomon from uganda ineed sponsor to sponsor me to go in dubai

  2. hi! I’m working in Dubai and I am planning to bring my daughter in Dubai, she is already 7 years old. i am already separated with my husband. What are the requirements to bring my daughter in Dubai? Thank you.

  3. I am on my husband’s visa in dubai and working in a travel company…in my contract it is written that if I leave the company than I cannot work for 2 years with a competitor
    But now I want to leave the company as I am getting a very good offer elsewhere.. my concern is that if I leave the company than can my previous employer create a problem for me to work elsewhere? what if he doesn’t cancel my labour card?
    Appreciate if you could help me out.

  4. Dear sir,
    We are management company. we are looking for some good recruitment agency that we can work together. can you link us with any? looking forward to read from you

  5. Lizette says:

    is there something like a 2 year house visa wich I can apply for myself and work with that visa or not.? Thank you very much, all info is very helpfull but I could not find what I was looking for.

  6. Asalam o alikum

    I want to inquire regarding visa ban , my husband is a physician in department of health dubai and from last 6 years me and my kids were living in dubai on my husband sponsorship, now he is saying that now uae has ban on visas for pakistani nationals and dubai immigration and naturalization department is refusing for issuing visas for me and my children.

    can you please tell me is there any ban exist or immigration department refuse for the visa for spouse and children if a person is a doctor and earn 25, 000 dhms a month from department of health.


    Nadia Ahmed

    • Dubai immiration doesn’t put ban on basis of Nationality, unless it’s specifically mentioned.All adult expats are allowed to sponsor their families (includes, wife,children, parents) on residency for 2 year renewable each time. Provided their salary has to be Dhs 4,000/- without accomodation and 3,000/- with accomodation, for parents salary needs to be more than dhs 10,000/-.

  7. AJAY SHARMA says:

    hi there i found it extremely fabulous information regarding stern legal system . i m higly moved with the matter updeted . i m interested in going for a job in legal sector in dubai . i promise to look forward to work with full dedecation and strenth

  8. J SMITH says:

    I am a uk nanny working in Dubai, I have been working with my family for 9 months, I want to change families, as I am not happy where I am.
    Is this possible?

  9. hi there..
    can I work partime in Dubai on wife sponosership.

  10. LORRAINE says:

    can i get my husband a residence visa in Dubai if I am a sales executive and my salary is AED 14,000?

  11. hi! i am a Nurse and i am currently on the sponsorship of my employer since March.
    they said, i will start on the 1st of May.. but until now, i haven’t started yet because they still don’t have a license in Dubai Health Authority..
    they gave me an option, if i can’t still wait for another month before the license is finished, i can apply to another clinics,medical centres or hospitals, and they will give No Objection Letter. but the new company should pay 1500 to my present employer.
    will i not get any ban or is it possible to work to another company even though i haven’t completed my working years with the present company?

    i hope i could get some replies from you.. thank you so much!
    God bless!

  12. denden;) says:

    hi…. i am bringing a friend of mine from philippines on a tourist visa, my concern is that can his tourist visa be transferred to an employment visa once he get any employer here in dubai? one thing more i’ve contacted as well an agent which i know for long time to process my friend’s visa and it was successfully done and it was fully paid to the amount she required and not being issued any invoice upon my demand…. after all when recieving the documents from this agent she was asking me to deposit an amount of 6k or else she will keep my friend’s passport as a guarantee once my friend arrive in dubai….this agent which is not a legal staff or not working in the travel agency, is she allowed to do this kind of practices?…. need your advice please….

  13. Good Evening,

    I am currently on my father’s sponsorship, and now I have got an offer from a Government compnay in Abu Dhabi.

    Govt. Company is telling me that I cannot work with them by being on my father’s sponsorship. They say that I need to have company visa as it is govt . company and there is no Labor card issued in govt. companies. So they say to prove that I work with them i need to have company visa

    Qn.1 – Is this mandatory that when you work for Abu Dhabi Govt. company you need to have company visa and you cannot work with them if you are on father’s visa?

    Qn.2 If I decide to have company visa then how is the process to cancel my current Father’s sponsorship visa and get Govt. company visa?
    DO i need to first cancel my current visa (which is fathers sponsorship)? and then ask the Govt. company to process my new visa? how does it work?

    Qn.3 Also once I have govt. company visa if in future anytime i wish to come back on my father’s visa is it possible? will there be any complications?

    Please do reply to my queiries at earliest…will highly appreciate feedback.


  14. Gurvinder singh says:

    hello everyone!

    I am living in india and my father is working in U.A.E with valid residence visa. I need U.A.E tourist visa. I know that my father sponsers the tourist visa but the problem is this the name on my father’s passport is different than on my passport. I want to know the solution of this problem but the condition is that he has to sponser me as his son.


  15. Salem Basheer says:

    Hi There,

    The best way to get a residence visa to work and live in Dubai is to start a small business and get a visa for your seld ,wife and children (if any) . look for an small office space atlease 30 soquare meters, find a local sponsor/agent for your business who will charge you annyal sponsorship fee for his sponsorship services and get all you licensing documentation done and then apply your visas.

    for details and starting the business in Dubai call +971555813673 or email

    Salem Basheer
    Emirati Business Consultant Dubai

  16. Good day to you,

    We have a restaurant and one woker who is on our visa has run away with the pataka, No he refuses to pick up his phone. He is working in jabel ali, His brothre refuses to submit the pataka for cancellation.

    Can we still goa head and cancel him, Please let us know, our sponsor wants to put an absconding case, Please advise.

    • Good day to you,

      We have a restaurant and one woker who is on our visa has run away with the pataka, No he refuses to pick up his phone. He is working in jabel ali, His brothre refuses to submit the pataka for cancellation.

      Can we still goa head and cancel him, Please let us know, our sponsor wants to put an absconding case, Please advise.

  17. I have a permanent residence in Dubai as a partner, for some reason I stayed outside the country more than 6 months and will not be able to enter before expiration of my residence permit, how can I arrange to enter again to renew or get a new permanent residence visa?

  18. Prakash says:

    Dear Sir
    I am an Engineer Since Last Two Months Working in Abudhabi, and In My Contract my Visa Profession is ” Archives Clerk”. So i would Like to Know if there is any Problem in Future for my Engineering Career in UAE While seeking other Engineering Jobs. How can I get the information about my Visa which is Under Freezone or Not.I Hope your Valuable Suggestion. Thank you.

  19. Hi,

    Can I be an investor while I am on a husband’s visa? I am planning to open a business in Sharjah and my visa is Dubai. Is it also a problem?

    Thanks, will appreciate your reply.

  20. Maimuna says:

    Hi i want 2 call my freind to dubai he is pakistani male 21 yrs so what is the procedure?

  21. Amit singh(nepal) says:

    Hi! This amit singh from nepal. I went dubai at august25/2011 and returned in 30 september 2011. i stayed there only for 35 days. i went in employment entry permit which is for 2 month. my company cancelled my visa properly and satteled me also so there is no problem between me and company. there is no stamping in my passport also so in my case there is any ban for me or not?

  22. i hav also submitted my childrens visa on 22nd may sunday today they hav to reject my children residencial visa

  23. Humaira says:

    hi.. i am in dubai on 90 days visit visa under my father’s sponsorship. my visit visa will expire soon. my question is if I Exit UAE. can i Enter right away after 2 to 3 days on Tourist Visa. ?
    or i have to stay out first 30 days and then apply tourist visa ?

  24. Hi,

    I have worked for a non-freezone company for 11 months in a limited period contract (3 years contract) and resigned because I got a good offer from a freezone company. My previous company imposed 1 year mol ban. I don’t have an immigration ban. If my new freezone company applied for my visa will there be any complications? Please help. I even checked with mol when i went there for cancellation and they clearly told that I can visit dubai, work in freezone companies and government organizations inside dubai. But the new company saying they are facing some issues getting my visa.

  25. Hi i’m Dabet working in UAE (Jabel Ali)from 20th january 2011 and my visa is issued from Abu Dhabi. I’m really in problem. I don’t know what to do, My designation is an electrician though i was the student of commerce, i searched job several moths as my subject requires didn’t find and then applied for this trade. my contract is made for 3 years and salary is below 1000 AED, all these things still okay for me but the point is My boss always teases me, scolds me without any reason, and also i can’t take sick leave. He says if i take leave showing any reasons he will terminate me without notice.
    I’m a poor guy, because of some circumstances i was in hurry to get the job to support my parents. Now the condition is i can’t go back home, i want to work some more years but also its true i can’t work in the current company. so please please somebody suggest me how may i get changed the company or what’s the better solution for my problem?

  26. i am a druggist.How can i get a sponsored job in this field in Dubai?

  27. Hi,
    I’m in the final stages of setting up a company in a free-zone but have to return to the UK. I will have the licence before I
    leave but is their a time limit on sponsoring my residency?


  28. hi im a husband visa and i submitted requirement to the company specially NOC from my husband, i was catched working in a company without working permit yet and they took my passport and im attending court day, what is the possible step so that i can get my passport. i hope you could help me.. thank you very much…


  29. hi!im a nurse from the philippines..i have applied through an agency to go to al ain and they already issued me a visa and tickets for a work there but now i want to withdraw my application since i have a court hearing that needs my presence here in the Philippines. Will i be banned to work in UAE if ever I back out from my application? Thank you.

  30. Nirav Bhatt says:

    Dear All,

    I have 3 years accountant employment Visa, on march i completed 4 months and i came back for short vacation to my cntry, now i want to that wat if i want to transfer employer ?? will i b banned as i have not completed 1 year, or i can work with new employer if i m getting NOC from my current company ?? please help me, as my current compny says i cant not change b4 1 year and they can not provide me NOC if they will issue NOC than they will not get visa for any new employee for his compny . pls help me wats true….

    thanks all..

  31. Re: 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.
    1.Can the registration processes of my company( My business) being carried out in my home country? or i will need to be on visit visa?
    2.What are the things needs in consideration before registering my business?
    3.Will buying of property could actually get me a residence visa? How can i buy a property right from my home country.
    Thanks,Your best regards.

  32. Hi, I amunder my wife’s sponsorship. Is it legal for a male person to work in a company under his wife’s visa?

  33. HI i’m under my wife’s sponsorship. is it legal for me to work in UAE without transfering my visa to my employer?

  34. salam…

    i m married and i got the visa and i want know that i can support my father to get visa he is 62 year old and i want there live with me in dubai please anwer me

  35. Sir/Madam,

    I am in Free Zone (Employement) Visa in UAE and I dont want to continue with the current employer. I am going to India in an emergency leave and If I dont comeback to my current company, how many months will be ban on me? or Is there any way to enter to UAE to join with other company?

  36. Dear sir,
    Before 9 month ago we face up the interview for a company located in Abu dhabi and when we select then we had sign in our contract letter also.stil now they didn’t provide our visas..have u got any information to know what is the process for working visa from the other country?

    • Rania Essa says:

      Me too sir, I have the same problem..Since 5 months I am waiting for the employment visa from Dubai and till now not received and I am in contact with the employer and he told me that the delay is from labor office and they finished all the required steps must be done from the company since long time..I need also to be clarified about the situation.

  37. Hi what about if i get my visa cancelled and i leave the country and re enter on my 2 passport that i have and get a job will i get a visa on that passport?

  38. dear sir/madam

    i am a married woman working in dubai and i am in resident visa from one of the company. I live with my husband and he is also working. i m planning to have a baby, but my visa is not a family visa. is it possible to give birth in uae itself while in employment visa? We are legally married couple and we have marriage certificate.

  39. dear sir
    I sponsor my wife,
    her visa valid upto 2013 and
    now i want send her to india …maximum howmany months she can stay in india?. I heared maximum 6 months. can I extend after 6 months? please answer me…..thanks too much.

  40. HI,
    I am currently a director or rather a part owner of a company. I wish to work in a diffrent firm. I would like to know what are the procedures that i need to undertake to do so. Will a NOC be enough to work without any visa change requiremnets
    Your earliest reply would be very helpful

  41. Well i have a question …and i am looking forward for any one to answer me ..If you are on a visit visa and your visa expired …for lets say a month and you still stayed in the country and then after that you got a job..what are the procedures needed to transfer the visa ..i think you have to pay the money (penalty) or do you have to leave the country or what exactly ??? ..or the can company can transfer your visit visa and you pay the penalty ?

  42. Hi,
    I’m currently having a free zone visa and i have sponsored my wife and she is in dubai. Now i heard that our company is moving out from another free zone. So the company is going to transfer our free zone visa and gonna get a new free zone visa from another free zone. My question to you is, should i cancel my wife’s visa and then get a new visa for her or should i just go and deposit the 5k and do something? I’m having now different knowledge from different people. So i’m confused. Please advice me.
    Thanks & Regards

  43. Hi,
    I’m currently having a free zone visa and i have sponsored my wife and she is in dubai. Now i heard that our company is moving from another free zone area. So the company is going to transfer our free zone visa and gonna get a visa from another free zone . My question to you is, should i cancel my wife’s visa and then get a new visa for her or should i just go and deposit the 5k and do something? I’m having now different knowledge from different people. So i’m confused. Please someone guide me.
    Thanks & Regards

  44. i seek to know if there is anything like an ordinary residence visa and a manager visa in Dubai? and if so, what are the benefits of such a visa over an ordinary visa?

  45. Hi,
    my old employer already cancelled my visa and now my new employer is processing for my new visa.My wife is in my sponsorship and so i apply for a non a cancellation for her visa,i deposit a 5000 AED in the immigration rather to cancel her visa,My question is this,is she allowed to work and get a labor card? is she still need my NOC even my visa is still in process? thanks for the help.

  46. I am a widow.I cancelled my visa to get a good job .My dauhter was also in my visa,Icancelled her visa also.We are waiting for my new visa.It is a good job.My doubt is this ,there will be any problem when I apply for my dauhter’s visa.She is studying here.Please give me a reply.

  47. Kindly give me a reply.

  48. Dear All
    I am in Dubai arrived here less three months back. I was sponsored by a free zone company. Now as the time goes on my employer is just creating problems threatening to terminate job.
    Please advise what my employer can do to me even before expiry of probation and under what circumstances he can do this?
    please explain!

  49. obitoyinbo sulaeman adeitan says:

    i am nigerian whom seek for employment and residency in UAE,whats an advise for me to just not waste my time.thanks a million.

  50. Hi! I’m a single mom, and I’m planning to sponsor a residence visa for my daughter, I’m working as a PA here in dubai. WHat are the requirements for me to sponor her, I’m not married to her father. Will it be possible? what are the other options that I can take here here to study, she’s only 8years old. Thank you.