How to Get a Visa in the UAE - A Comprehensive Guide


The UAE has positioned itself as a global hub for energy and engineering, attracting large, ...

Rebecca O'Rourke

By Rebecca O'Rourke

The UAE has positioned itself as a global hub for energy and engineering, attracting large, successful companies and top talent from around the world. The UAE’s ambitious initiatives in renewable energy, infrastructure development, and sustainable engineering projects have created a high demand for skilled professionals across various disciplines. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the processes involved in obtaining a UAE work visa, including the types of visas available, eligibility criteria, the application process, and key considerations before embarking on your professional journey in the UAE.


Understanding the Landscape

Moving to a new country for work can be thrilling yet daunting. You are thrown into a new culture, a different work environment, and most importantly, a complex legal process for getting your work permit. Navigating the UAE work visa landscape requires a deep understanding of the various visa types, their requirements, and the application process. Whether you are a multinational company expanding to The UAE or an entrepreneur looking to start a business, securing the correct work visa is crucial.

Acquiring a standard work visa in the UAE has a unique requirement, as every applicant needs sponsorship from a legally incorporated entity in the country. This means that the application process for foreign companies looking to hire talent in the UAE can be much more complicated, especially if a company does not have an established local entity but wants to hire foreign nationals.

Partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR) can simplify the process, enabling companies to focus on their business goals whilst an EOR partner navigates the complexities of employment and immigration laws on their behalf.

What Work Visas are Available in the UAE?

The UAE offers three main types of employment visas: a Standard Work Visa, a Green Visa, and a Golden Visa. The most suitable one for you will depend on your specific circumstances and employment type.

Standard Work Visa

A Standard Work Visa is a common employer-sponsored work visa. To obtain this visa, you must have an employment contract and get approval from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). This kind of visa is valid for two to three years and must be renewed after its expiration.

Green Visa

The Green Visa is a five-year residency permit for self-employed professionals, freelancers, and investors, allowing them to live and work in the UAE without being sponsored by an employer. There are many added benefits to choosing a Green Visa, including the ability to sponsor immediate relatives to move to the UAE, a six-month grace period upon visa expiry or cancellation, and a simplified application process.

Golden Visa

Reserved for professionals with exceptional qualifications, a Golden Visa offers long-term residency for up to 10 years without a local sponsor. Engineers and those in a similar discipline with the right qualifications and experience can apply for this visa. This visa also has additional benefits, including access to special health insurance packages and the ability to sponsor unlimited immediate family members to move to the UAE.


Am I eligible for a UAE Work Visa?

Each type of visa has varying requirements; however, to qualify for a UAE work visa, you must meet the following basic criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • The company hiring you must have a valid operating license.
  • The job role must align with the company's operations.
  • You should have a high school diploma at the minimum.


Requirements for UAE Employment Visa

  • Valid passport (minimum six months validity) and passport photos
  • Entry permit from the Ministry of Labour
  • Signed employment contract
  • Medical screening clearance
  • Health insurance

The Application Process for a UAE Work Visa

Below is a general step-by-step breakdown of the entire visa application process. The UAE government's official online portals allow you to check the status and validity of your UAE visa.

  • Entry Visa Quota Approval: The employer applies for an entry visa from the UAE's Ministry of Labour. If the applicant resides and works in one of the UAE’s 46 free zones, the employer must apply for a UAE free zone visa. These visas are subject to a quota restriction.
  • Submit Signed Contract: The employer submits a signed work contract to the UAE's Ministry of Labour for approval. The contract must be in English, Arabic, and the employee’s native language.
  • Apply for Work Visa and Entry Permit: The employer can now apply for your work permit and employment entry visa, also known as a pink visa. This allows the employee to legally enter the UAE to formalise their work visa and apply for a residence visa.

Arriving in the UAE

Upon arrival in the UAE, employees must begin collecting supporting documents for their residence visa application, such as an Emirates ID card and a health certificate. To apply for an Emirates ID, employees must visit an Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) centre with their passport and entry visa, where they will collect fingerprints and a photograph.

  • Apply for a Residence Visa: All ex-pats require a residence visa, which allows them to open a bank account, register a car, and open a PO box. The employee must submit the relevant documents to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization for approval in order to obtain a residence visa.
  • Receive Work Visa: Once all the steps are completed and approved, a work visa can be issued and often takes around seven days.

A UAE work visa can be cancelled if an employee decides to leave their job or the country. The process involves getting clearance from their employer and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization.

Working in the UAE on a visit or tourist visa is strictly prohibited. However, you can transfer from a visit visa to an employment visa if you receive a job offer while in the country.

How We Can Help

Navigating the UAE's work visa process can seem daunting, but with the right guidance and understanding of the process, it can be a rewarding experience. NES Fircroft can hire employees on your behalf as an Employer of Record (EOR).

With our teams managing your talent, we can resolve your legal entity and employment requirements, ease your payroll burden, manage tax queries, and ensure immigration labour law compliance. We are award-winning in compliance and payroll, so your expansion plans are safe.

NES Fircroft’s expert recruitment teams source engineering and technical professionals for global roles with some of the biggest names across Oil & Gas, Power & Renewables, Construction and Infrastructure, Life Sciences, Mining, Automotive and Chemicals sectors worldwide.

Simplify your global payroll processes and unlock the potential of your international workforce. With offices in over 45 countries and decades of experience in international expansion, we can help you hire employees quickly, compliantly and with minimal risk.

Contact us to discuss how we can support your international workforce.