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A Definitive Guide to the Work Permit in the UAE

Nov 2, 2023 | Human Resources

Are you considering a move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work opportunities but are overwhelmed by the process of obtaining a work permit? Your worries end here. We are here to navigate you through the entire procedure, from understanding different types of work visas applying for a work permit, to renewing or terminating your visa.

The guide also highlights potential costs, eligibility criteria, and the legal implications if you violate work permit rules in the UAE. Whether you’re a job-seeker, freelancer, or a foreign company looking to hire in the UAE, this article’s got all the essential information you need. So, relax and read on; your pathway to a successful career in the UAE has never been more straightforward.

How to Apply for a UAE Work Visa in Dubai?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular destination for expatriates, with a large expat community making up 88% of the population.

This is primarily due to the country’s relatively simple employment visa requirements. If you’re considering moving to the UAE for work, you’ll need to apply for a UAE work visa.

Types of UAE Work Visa

There are three predominant types of work visas available in the UAE: the standard work visa, the Green Visa, and the Golden Visa. The standard work visa is the most common type and is issued to individuals who’ve secured a job offer from a UAE employer. This visa lets you live and work in the UAE for two to three years, after which your employer must renew or cancel the visa.

This visa grants residency for five years and doesn’t require employer sponsorship. In contrast, the Green Visa, introduced in October 2022, is designed to attract and support more foreign workers, freelancers and self-employed individuals. Golden Visa is an extended residence permit that allows professionals with exceptional qualifications to live, work, and study in the UAE for ten years without a local sponsor.

Applying For A Work Visa

To apply for a work visa, you’ll need a valid passport with at least six months’ validity, a job offer letter from a UAE employer, and a completed visa application form. You’ll also need to undergo a medical checkup to ensure you’re in good health and free from contagious diseases.

Once your work visa is approved, you’ll receive an entry visa, which allows you entrance into the UAE and begin the process of obtaining a residence permit. You’ll then need to apply for and obtain an Emirates ID, a mandatory identification card for all residents of the UAE. This ID is required for various purposes, such as opening a bank account, signing rental agreements, and accessing government services.

The process and requirements for obtaining a work permit in the UAE can vary depending on your nationality, the type of work visa, and the specific requirements of the UAE government. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with a professional immigration consultant or the UAE embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the work permit application process.

Obtaining a UAE work permit also involves getting an employment entry visa, an Emirates ID card, and a residence visa and work permit. Once you’ve received your own resident visa, you can sponsor residency visas for family members.

Sponsorship and Fees

One unique consideration for acquiring a standard work visa in the UAE is that every applicant requires sponsorship from a legally incorporated entity in the UAE. This requirement can complicate the process for foreign companies interested in hiring talent in the UAE. However, companies that don’t have an established presence in the UAE can work with an Employer of Record (EOR) to simplify the work visa process for employees and ensure compliance with immigration laws.

The fees for UAE work permits vary depending on the category and level of the worker. It usually takes about five working days for the Ministry of Human Resources to issue the work permit. A work permit is valid for 30 days. However, you can apply for a further 30-day extension.

After your work permit is approved, it serves as an entry permit into the UAE on the grounds of employment. Your employer then has to apply for a Residence Visa for you from the GDRFRA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs) of the emirate where you’re employed. The GDRFA will affix an Employment Visa (Residence Visa for employment purposes) on your passport following the documents done, and you’ll receive an Emirates ID and a Labour Card.

UAE Work Visa Renewal

The UAE Work Visa can be renewed within 30 days before it expires. The process for getting a Dubai Employment Visa is no different than in the other emirates. Your employer applies for a Work Permit for you while you’re still in your home country. Once approved, you use the work permit to enter Dubai. Then, your employer will arrange for you to undergo a medical exam and apply for a Residence Card for employment on your behalf. The cost for a Dubai visa fee is the same as for other emirates in the UAE. Your employer can apply to renew your employment visa for you at the GDRFA in Dubai or an Amre centre.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities as an employee in the UAE. The country has strict labour laws in place which protect the rights of workers, including minimum wage requirements, maximum working hours, and provisions for annual leave and sick leave. If you fail to comply with the regulations and requirements for acquiring a work permit in the UAE, it can result in fines, deportation, and other legal consequences.

Screenshot Of UAE Ministry Of Human Resources For Permits And Licences

Who Can Apply for a Work Visa in Dubai?

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for a work permit in Dubai, you must have a confirmed job offer from a UAE employer. The company initiating your application must be a locally licensed and incorporated entity in the UAE. If the company card or organisation you’re joining doesn’t have a local presence, they can collaborate with an EOR to facilitate the work permit sponsorship.

The work permit is typically valid for two years and can be renewed upon expiration. The process includes obtaining labour approval from the MOHRE, securing a residency visa from the GDRFA, and undergoing medical tests at a government-approved clinic in the UAE. These tests screen for communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, hepatitis, and tuberculosis, and a valid health certificate is a prerequisite for the resident permit application.

Eligibility criteria for the applicant include being at least 18 years old and possessing the other documents, necessary qualifications and experience for the job. The hiring company must hold a valid operating licence and have a clean record.

Green and Golden Visas

The UAE government has also launched new categories of work residence permits, such as the Green Visa and the Golden Visa. These options provide extended residency periods and eliminate the need for employer sponsorship, making them appealing if you possess unique skills or substantial investment capabilities.

Securing a work permit in Dubai can be intricate and lengthy. Therefore, it’s advisable to enlist professional assistance, like an immigration consultant or a legal advisor, to navigate the process and ensure adherence to the relevant laws and regulations.

Remember, violating the conditions of the UAE work permit can lead to penalties, including fines, deportation, and a future entry ban to the UAE. Hence, understanding the labour laws and regulations in the UAE, as well as your rights and responsibilities as an employee, is crucial.

How much does a work permit cost in the UAE?

The financial implications of obtaining a work permit in the UAE are influenced by several factors. The category of the worker is one such determinant. The workforce is divided into three categories based on their educational qualifications and skills.

Category 1 comprises individuals with a bachelor’s degree, Category 2 includes those with a post-secondary diploma, and Category 3 is for those with a high school diploma. The charges for these categories start from USD 82 (AED 300) for Category 1, range between USD 163 (AED 600) to USD 545 (AED 2000) for Category 2, depending on the skill level, and reach USD 1361 (AED 5000) for Category 3.

The age of the foreign worker is another factor. For those over 65 years old, the charge is USD 1361 (AED 5,000) across all categories.

The type of your company also influences the cost of issuance and renewal of a work permit, with fees ranging from USD 68 (AED 250) to USD 939 (AED 3,450).

Typically, these expenses are borne by skilled employees of the employer. However, it’s advisable to confirm this with your prospective employer before accepting a job offer.

In addition to the work permit, other requirements such as a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID, and a Labour Card need to be arranged by you and your employer. The charges for these additional requirements can fluctuate, so it’s important to include these in your budget as well.

Securing a work permit in the UAE involves several stages, including securing a job offer, applying for a Work Permit, undergoing a medical exam, and obtaining a Residence Card and Emirates ID Card. Each of these stages may involve additional charges, so it’s crucial to research thoroughly and plan your budget accordingly.

Understanding the costs involved in obtaining a work permit in the UAE can help you plan your move more effectively and ensure a seamless transition to your new job in the UAE.

Screenshot Of Customer Happiness Centre In UAE Website

Can I stay in the UAE without a job?

Yes, the UAE provides several visa options that allow you to reside in the country without employment. These include the job-seeker visa and various self-sponsored residence visas such as the remote work visa, property investor visa, and retirement visa.

The job-seeker visa is an excellent choice if you’re exploring job opportunities in the UAE. It’s valid for 60, 90, or 120 days and doesn’t necessitate a sponsor or host. Eligibility for this visa requires classification in the first, second, or third skill level or recent graduation from one of the top 500 universities worldwide.

For those who wish to live in the UAE without employment, self-sponsored residence visas are available. The remote work visa allows you to reside in the UAE while working remotely for a company based outside the UAE. If you own property in the UAE worth at least USED 204,221 (AED 750,000), you can apply for the property investor visa. The retirement visa is tailored for retirees over the age of 55 who meet specific criteria.

However, it’s crucial to remember that working in the private sector in the UAE without a work permit is illegal and can result in severe consequences such as fines, imprisonment, and deportation. Even on a tourist visa, employment is not permitted. The UAE government strictly enforces illegal employment laws and conducts regular inspections to ensure adherence.

While residing in the UAE without employment is possible, working without a work permit is not. It’s essential to understand the specific regulations that apply to your situation and seek guidance from the UAE government or legal experts to ensure a safe and lawful stay in the country.

Screenshot Of Amer UAE Website

Renewal and Termination of a UAE Work Permit

Duration and Renewal Process of Work Permit

Your sponsor can extend the work permit’s validity, typically your employer, who must apply at the GDRFA in the relevant emirate within 30 days before your permit expires.

For those working remotely for an overseas organisation, the virtual work residence permit can be renewed through digital channels, Customer Happiness Centers, or Amer Service Centers. The renewal fee for this permit is USD 54 (AED200), with additional charges for Knowledge dirham, Innovation dirham, Fee inside the country, and Delivery.

Rules on Termination of Work Permit

If you choose to leave the UAE permanently, your sponsor must initiate the cancellation of your work permit and Residence Visa. This process involves the MoHRE and the GDRFA.

In case of a job change within the UAE, your current employer must cancel your work permit. If your formal work permit contract hasn’t ended, your current employer must sign a No Objection Certificate (NOC) transferring sponsorship to your new employer. If your employer doesn’t agree to the premature termination of your contract, you might face an employment ban, which can last from six months to one year.

Effects of Overstaying or Violating Work Permit Rules

Overstaying your work permit in the UAE can lead to fines and other penalties. The standard overstay fine is USD 14 (AED 50) daily for visitors, tourists, and residents. The grace periods for overstaying vary depending on the type of visa.

Overstaying a visitor’s visa or expired residence visa isn’t a criminal offence in the UAE, but it can affect prospective employment opportunities if you overstay for more than 1 to 2 months. The approval or rejection of a visa application after an overstay is solely in the hands of the Immigration Department’s security team.

If you overstay, you can pay your fines at entry ports, immigration offices, Amer offices, or typing centres. It’s essential to plan and stick to visa regulations to avoid overstaying and potential fines.

Wrapping Up the UAE Work Permit Journey

Getting a UAE work permit might seem challenging at first, but once you’re familiar with the process, it’s a journey you can navigate. It’s crucial to stay aware and comply with local laws and regulations to ensure a legal and safe working environment.

Remember, the ins and outs of getting a UAE work permit can vary for each person. That’s why it’s a good idea to get advice from a professional immigration consultant.

Whether you’re looking for a job, freelancing, or an experienced professional, the UAE has a wealth of opportunities. Here’s to a successful and rewarding career in the United Arab Emirates!

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