Visas and Work Permits

Visit Visas

All visitors must have a visa to enter the UAE. The type of visa depends on the purpose of the visit. Visitors from the GCC, USA, most European countries and a few others are given a 90 day visa on arrival. Citizens or holders of Norwegian passports are exempted from UAE Entry Visa Requirements, according to reciprocity. They may stay for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180 – day period.

Should a visitor wish to stay longer, an application for extension can be submitted at a cost, three days before the expiry date at the local immigration office. Staying longer than the duration of the visa can result in a fine.

Other nationalities require sponsorship from either a UAE resident or a legal entity. Almost any UAE based organisation can sponsor a visitor, and hotels and travel agents normally offer such services for tourists. A refundable guarantee is usually required. Business visitors can be sponsored by an employer with a business license, such as a branch office, free zone entity or entity registered under the Companies Law. Individuals residing in the UAE can sponsor relatives and friends under specific guidelines. The sponsor applies for the visa on the visitor’s behalf.

Current information on visa requirements is published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mofa.gov.ae/mofa_english/portal/79e01fed-3501-4ebb-accd-9e27950433a7.aspx

Residency Visas

Expatriates who are employed by a UAE company are sponsored for a residency visa by their employer. This visa is valid for three years and renewable every three years. The employee in turn can sponsor any close family members.

Each type of visa has different requirements however all types need the following:

All residency visa applicants must go through blood and x-ray tests to check for HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis. The test must be held at a government medical facility (called the Disease Prevention & Screening Center) and results from tests done in other countries are not accepted. If the test is positive, residency visa can be denied and the applicant can face deportation. This medical test must be done every time the residency visa is due for renewal.

The employer also provides health insurance for the employees and their dependents. This insurance offers free or subsidized health care services.

In addition, it is obligatory for all UAE residents to obtain and carry with them at all times an Emirates ID card. A registration form must be filled in first either at a typing centre or online which will be followed by a visit to the registration centre to have the individual’s biometric data taken: an eye scan, fingerprints and photo. The ID is sent a few days later to the address given. Some centres are adjacent to the Disease Prevention & Screening Center for efficiency to have the medical test and biometric data taken in the same day.

Further information on locations of registration centres can be found on the Emirates ID website: http://www.id.gov.ae

Employees should be cautious of companies who ask as part of the conditions of employment to deposit their passports with the company. Although it may be unlikely for a Norwegian citizen to face such a case this practice is common and illegal under the UAE labour law.

Obtaining work while on a tourist or visit visa

Individuals on a tourist or visit visa are not allowed to work in the UAE. If an individual has already entered the UAE, a probationary work permit should be obtained, valid for up to 3 months, from the Ministry of Labour. If caught without a work permit the individual will not be able to use the Ministry of Labour in the event of a dispute with the employer and risks being sent to prison, fined and deported. In addition they may be blacklisted and not allowed to return to the UAE.

The employer who acts as the sponsor should in the meantime begin the process to obtain the residency visa. The process cannot be completed before the employment contract is registered with the Ministry of Labour.

Up to date information on obtaining work permits can be requested by the Ministry of Labour:
http://www.mol.gov.ae/NewMolGateway/english/newIndex.aspx