A Visit Visa is an entry permit for visitor in United Arab Emirates. A Visit Visa is different from a Tourist Visa although they are both entry permits. The difference is mostly to do with who sponsors the visitor for their trip, cost, and whether or not the visa is renewable. Usually a visit visa is valid 60 days before entry to Dubai, can only be used for a single entry, and after exit the visitor must stay away from the UAE for 30 days before re-applying for a new visa (there are some exceptions). For individual or company sponsorship of a UAE visit visa, the sponsor must be based in the UAE, and have a UAE residence visa if the sponsor is a person. GCC nationals do not need a visit visa to enter the UAE. GCC residents, or visitors accompanying GCC nationals might be able to obtain a visit visa more easily – contact the nearest UAE immigration department or relevant authority in your area.
A pre-arranged visit visa must be used to enter the UAE within 60 days of being issued, otherwise is expires and you’ll have to get a new one issued. It can only be used for a single entry, and after exit the visitor must stay away from the UAE for 30 days before re-applying for a new visa (there are some exceptions). A pre-arranged visit visa is valid for 30 or 90 days after entry to the UAE, and is not renewable. A tourist visa and a visit visa on arrival are both valid 30 days, and can be renewed once.
For individual or company sponsorship of a UAE visit visa, the sponsor must be based in the UAE, and have a UAE residence visa if the sponsor is a person. GCC nationals do not need a visit visa to enter the UAE. GCC residents, or visitors accompanying GCC nationals might be able to obtain a visit visa more easily – contact a UAE immigration department.
A brief summary of the new visa rules. The major changes appear to be that Visit Visas cannot be renewed, expats can no longer sponsor friends on visit visas, and all visitors will need to show evidence of medical insurance. Nationalities of countries that at present can receive a free visit visa on arrival will continue to be able to do that according to reports on 09 June 2008.
UAE Visit Visa sponsorship
For visitors not from one of the countries that can obtain a visit visa on arrival, they need to find a UAE based sponsor to apply for a visit visa for them. The sponsorship possibilities are (updated after new UAE visa rules in July 2008):
- Company sponsorship UAE visa – UAE based company needs to have a deposit with the UAE immigration authority, this type of visit visa is intended for business visitors to the UAE that have some type of relationship to the company. Proof of this might be requested (a business card on arrival for example).
- Friend sponsorship UAE visa – possible under certain conditions: minimum salary, limited number of professions, might be difficult for males attempting to sponsor unrelated females or vice versa. The minimum salary figure was AED 10,000 per month in 2008 but might vary, or be applied inconsistently.
- Relative sponsorship for visa – easy for first degree relatives (mother, father, son, daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister), more difficult for second degree relatives – will probably require special permission from the immigration department.
Documents and requirements needed for individual sponsoring a visit visa
- Resident’s passport with valid UAE residence visa.
- Resident’s labour contract or salary certificate as proof of minimum salary.
- Proof of relationship of family member, documents will probably need to be attested.
- Proof of medical / health / accident insurance for the visitor.
- Copy of visitor’s passport (should be valid for at least 6 months after expected date of entry to the UAE).
- Visa application form – obtain at the typing center at the immigration department (DNRD in Dubai, or other UAE immigration office).
- Relevant visa fees.
- Refundable deposit (might be AED 1000 or AED 2000 – different information seen).
- Minimum salary requirement as follows (treat figures as approximate):
|Relationship||First-degree relative||Second-degree relative||Friend|
|Minimum Salary||AED 4000-5000||AED 6000-7000||AED 10000|
Procedure to obtain visit visa for Dubai and other UAE emirates
- The person or PRO of the company sponsoring you needs to go to the immigration department of the emirate which issued their residence visa (or trade licence). It might be possible to apply in a different emirate if the sponsor has a good reason for that e.g. they live in a different emirate to the one that issued their residence visa (in which case they should bring a copy of their tenancy contract, DEWA or telephone bill as proof they live in a different emirate, or labour card as proof they work in a different emirate), but they might still be told to go to the emirates that issued their residence visa.
- The process starts at the typing center where the visa fees are paid and the application form will be filled in. The typing center will direct the applicant to the next relevant counter for document submission and processing.
- Visit visa should be issued within a day or two, possibly the same day if urgent processing fees are paid.
- After receiving the visit visa, either the original or a copy should be sent to the visitor.
- If only the copy is sent, then the original visa needs to be deposited at the Dubai airport DNATA counter at least three hours prior to arrival of the visitor. There is also a Visa Delivery Service available at the DNATA counter at the DNRD (but visa needs to be left with them a day before arrival of the visitor).
- For other emirates, ask when the visa is collected from the immigration department, where the visa needs to be deposited for collection by the visitor on arrival.
Renewing a visit visa
Conflicting information seen regarding whether a visit visa is renewable. The DNRD visa fees table says neither visit visa is renewable. Confusion might be because other common visa types used by visitors are renewable – a UAE tourist visa and a UAE visit visa on arrival.
Visit visa cancellation and deposit refund, and overstaying a visit visa
- When the guest leaves the UAE, the visa is automatically cancelled.
- Any overstaying fines are paid on departure – allow AED 100 for overstaying plus AED 200 per day (it might still be AED 100). Entry day and exit day are counted, and remember the “one month visa” is actually only valid for 30 days.
- Overstaying a visit visa in the UAE – there is possibly a grace period of 10 days but don’t count on it, it seems to be a bit of a lottery as to whether you get fined during this period or not – it might depend on the mood of the official at the gate, your mood, your nationality, the weather, and so on. Confirmation of this grace period not found on official General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (immigration department) websites for the UAE. There were reports in early 2012 that the grace period for overstaying had been cancelled, but nothing official found or supplied.
- After the guest has left, the sponsor needs to go back to the immigration department where the visit visa was issued, and present their deposit receipt to get a refund. Their computer system will be automatically updated when the visitor departs, proof of departure should not be needed.
Working on a Dubai UAE visit visa
You cannot work in the UAE it is not permitted to have employment while on a visit visa. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, it does but the company runs the risk of fines and being blacklisted for future work permit and visa applications, and the visitor runs the risk of fines, deportation, and a long or permanent UAE immigration and labour ban. For expats who are arriving for the first time in the UAE for a new job, it’s not uncommon for the company to ask new workers to obtain a visit visa on arrival if they are from one of the countries that can do so, since it’s easier than the company applying for an employment entry permit. Expats are not supposed to start working until the company has processed their residence permit and labour card. Whilst the risk of getting into trouble might be relatively low, there is still a risk, and new residents should try to avoid being put into this position. Especially since some less scrupulous companies use this system to avoid processing expat residency and labour status for a lengthy time (the employee is sent across a border to renew their visit visa repeatedly). Workers in this situation also do not have any of the employment rights protected under UAE law.
Looking for a job while on a visit visa in Dubai, UAE
It is allowed to look for work with a UAE employer while on a visit visa, and many expats do exactly that. It is also a good idea to visit the UAE if you have been offered a job, before accepting the job.
Don’t actually start working while still on a visit visa. The penalties if caught are harsh, and can involve a combination of fine, jail sentence, deportation, and immigration black list for the UAE preventing future entry.
The visa given valid for staying in the UAE is usually in days so be careful – 1 month is not the same as 30 days, 6 months is not the same as 180 days. Count the number of days from the day you enter the country.
Note: Visa rules, requirements and rates mentioned in this website can and do change suddenly, and without a warning. Information here may not be complete or accurate. We recommend to check always the UAE embassy in your country or the relevant authority in the UAE.