UAE employment visas in 2024

Foreign professionals who wish to live and work in the United Arab Emirates must apply for a residency visa and a work permit (labor card). A residency visa can be obtained after fulfilling any one of the following conditions: i) UAE business registration ii) investment in a UAE resident company iii) purchasing UAE real estate or iv) employment in a UAE company. A valid employment contract is mandatory for any of the below visa applications, except for the investor visa.

Entrepreneur visa

  • Foreign entrepreneurs may apply for long term entrepreneur visa. This visa is issued for 5 years to investors who can prove their prior investments and a minimum investment of about US$140,000 (Dh 500k);
  • Entrepreneurs can stay in the UAE for up to 6 months at a time during the 5-year period. People with the entrepreneur visa may also qualify to apply for the investor visa, if they fulfill all conditions.

Employment visa

  • A foreign worker can apply for an electronic work permit and a residence visa. Labor cards and residence permits are issued for up to 2 years by local mainland companies, and for up to 3 years by free zone companies;
  • Documents to be presented include i) an employer sponsorship letter ii) an employment contract iii) copies of the applicant’s professional/academic credentials and iv) a medical certificate;
  • Employees with approved visas can apply for residence visa for their family members if their salary is i) at least 3,000 AED per month with accommodation paid by a sponsor or ii) more than AED4,000.

Investment Visa

  • For businesspersons investing more than USD 1 million (Dh 5m) in property in the UAE, a 5-year investor-visa is applicable;
  • In case the investment is through a business in public works, the minimum requirement is USD 2.8 million (Dh 10m) for a 10-year renewable investor visa.
  • The minimum requirements need to be fulfilled in the form of assets – they cannot be in the form of loans. The visa allows a stay of six months at a time during its validity.

Specialist Talent Visa

The 10-year specialist talent visa is for people involved in the STEM fields or any creative field deemed priority by the UAE government. Multiple criteria apply for a specialist visa:

  • For STEM specialists, the applicants must have a PhD with 10 years of experience, a recognition award from their country, published research, noteworthy accomplishments in their field of research, and membership in corresponding professional associations.
  • For specialists involved in creative fields, the applicants first need an endorsement from the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and a patent from the Ministry of Economy to be able to apply for the Specialist Talent visa.

Visit visa

  • The visit visa requires sponsorship from a citizen, resident or investor. Two types of visit visa are available (i)The short-term visit visas which are valid for 30 days and (ii) The long-term visas are valid for 90 days.
  • Foreign tourists of certain countries can obtain either their visa on arrival. All other nationalities must submit a visa application prior to entering the UAE;
  • Documents requested for visa approval include i) Passport copy ii) clear photograph iii) proof of residence and iv) proof of funds for high risk countries.
  • The processing time for visas is normally 3-4 working days subject to immigration approval and the application.

Important UAE visa considerations

UAE recently approved measures to increase the Emiratisation rate for private sector.

  • Mainland registered private sector employers with more than 49 skilled employees are required to hire UAE nationals and will be required to increase Emirati employees by a minimum of 2% annually until 2026. Refer to the table below for clarify. A skilled employee is defined here;
  • Number of skilled workers Number of UAE nationals be hired each year
    0-49 exempted
    50 One UAE national
    51-100 Two UAE nationals
    101-150 Three UAE nationals
    151 and above One UAE nationals for every 50 skilled workers

  • The deadline for compliance with this new targeted increase is 1 January 2023. Non-compliant companies will be subject to fines of AED 6,000 per month. Other sanctions will additionally apply.

Contact us

For additional information on our company registration services in UAE, please contact our in-house country expert, Ms. Chrissi Zamora, directly:
client relationship officer - Chrissi