This will give you an overview what a Dubai residency visa is. It is somewhat quite easy to get comparing to many other countries, so basically there is nothing to worry about.
Tips: Dubai tourist visa / Dubai entry visa
To enter the country you will have to have a valid UAE visa. It is called visit visa or entry visa. Normally it is issued for the period of one month.
If you are lucky enough to be a citizen of one of the countries listed below you won't have to think about an entry visa.
List of countries those citizens may receive their visit visa upon arrival
UK (with the right of abode in UK), France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and holders of Hong Kong SAR passports will be granted a free of charge visa for a single visit upon arrival in the UAE. It should be noted that this list may vary slightly from time to time and it is therefore best to check with your local UAE embassy or the airline that you are using to fly to the UAE.
Check the official information for more info.
Otherwise, your Dubai visa needs to be sponsored by someone in the UAE.
There can be 3 options:
- If you are visiting Dubai for tourism purpose or an 'orientation trip' and will be going to stay in a hotel, the hotel will be applying for a visa for you. Normally it will take about 1-3 working days.
- If you are going to Dubai for employment your employer will need to request a Dubai entry visa for you. On the visa you will see something like "employment" meaning that you are coming to be a Dubai resident.
- If you are going to visit your friends or family residing in Dubai, they can sponsor your visa. They will need to apply to Department of Naturalization & Residency of Dubai (DNRD). I've not had a chance to do that, but my colleagues claim it is a very easy procedure that can be finished in less than an hour time. The only thing that is needed is to put a deposit (quite some money by the way) that is a kind of insurance for leaving the country before the visa's expiration date (your sponsors just won't get their money back if you don't leave on time). Also check out this article.
If you are a lady from none of the countries above, you are below 30 and your home country is not a Muslim country, there may be issues. Check with your sponsor who will apply for visa for you.
Once the visa is ready, normally it will be sent to you by e-mail. Print it out and show to the Dubai airport customs officers. They will do a stamp in your passport and you are in the city.
Dubai residence visa
Dubai residence visa can be a work permit or just a permission to live in the UAE (your spouse will get that if he/she is not planning to work)
There are 2 types of Dubai residency visas: free-zone visa and 'regular' residence visa.
- Dubai free zone visa will be issued if you are employed with a company inside one of Dubai free zones like Jebel Ali (JAFZA), International Airport (DAFZA), Internet city or others. Dubai free zone visa is easier to get as it does not require approval of the Ministry of Labour. Your sponsor will be the free zone, not the company you work for. You can also change jobs with a little chance to be banned.
- Non free zone visa will be issued if you are going to work for a non Dubai free zone company. Your employer will be your sponsor and there is a kind of limitation out there. If you decide to change your job and your employer is not happy with that, he can ban your for entry in UAE for 6 months. So, be careful if you want to move to Dubai for a job that you don't like hoping to change it for something better later. That may not work out.
Normally, the company should take care of your Dubai residence visa and organize the whole process for you. You will need to do an x-ray test and a blood test to prove that you are healthy enough and here you go. After about 2 weeks you will get your stamp.
After that you will need to sponsor your wife's visa. Everything for my wife's Dubai residence visa was organized by the company, so I didn't have to worry about that. She also passed a blood test and an x-ray test and got a visa in about a week time. She can't work though. If she wants to work she will need to find a job and then convert her visa to a work permit.
Some formalities for spouses
Even if your wife or husband falls under category that can get a visa upon arrival you will still have to complete some formalities to get a Dubai residence visa for her or him.
In order to get a Dubai residence visa for your spouse (or even to get a visit/entry visa to Dubai if he or she has not got the 'right' citizenship) your marriage certificate needs to be attested by your country authorities and also attested by the local UAE embassy or consulate (here is the list of UAE embassies and consulates worldwide).
If it is not in English or Arabic, it will have to be translated into either language.
Arriving in Dubai
My story of getting a Dubai visa
We were supposed to go for a 2 days visit to Dubai in the middle of November 2008. We had booked and paid tickets for discounted price and then it got to getting visas.
There the problems began...
The hotel that was supposed to get visas for us just refused to apply for a visit visa for my wife, because she was under 30 years old. They required a marriage certificate in either English or Arabic attested by a UAE embassy or consulate.
I found out what needed to be done: the marriage certificate should have been translated, attested by my country’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice and then passed to the UAE consulate for final attestation. Getting that done with local authorities took about a week. After that I brought the document to the UAE consulate, paid the fee and collected the document back the same day after lunch.
We had to cancel flight bookings, paying the return fine (the tickets were bought at a discounted price) and buy new tickets after everything had been done.
The hotel received visas in just a couple of days when we had all documents ready.
At Dubai International Airport we went to the customs officers, they scanned my wife's eyes (they said I didn't need to go through that procedure), and there we go. All airport formalities were quite quick. We went in after a very short while.