UAE Visa Guide for Employees

Keep up with the latest regulations and steps in the UAE Visa application process.
Anam Javed
Reviewed by:
Faye Ameen
January 15, 2024
0 min read time
Anam Javed
Marketing Operations Manager

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become one of the top destinations for expats looking for job opportunities and a better quality of life. With its strategic location, business-friendly environment, and tax-free salaries, the UAE attracts talented professionals worldwide.

However, before you can legally work and live in the UAE, you must secure the right visa type. With frequent changes in UAE visa regulations, navigating the visa application process can get confusing.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about getting an employment visa in the UAE in 2024 - from visa types, eligibility criteria, application process, and visa status checking to rules for cancellation and renewal.


UAE Visa Types for Employees

There are three main types of employment visas in the UAE:

1. Standard Work Visa

This is the most common type of work visa sponsored by an employer in the private sector, government sector, or free zones. Key features:

  • Valid for 2 years
  • Renewable
  • Sponsored by an employer
  • Allows employees to work for the sponsoring employer only

2. Green Visa

Introduced in 2022, the Green Visa targets skilled professionals, freelancers, investors and entrepreneurs. Key benefits:

  • 5-year validity
  • No sponsor or employer is required
  • Renewable on the same terms
  • More flexibility in work and residency

The eligibility criteria vary for different categories:


  • Proof of freelancing permit
  • Bachelor's degree or specialized diploma
  • Minimum annual income of AED 360,000 for the past two years

Skilled Employees:

  • Minimum monthly salary of AED 15,000
  • Classified as skill level 1, 2 or 3
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification

3. Golden Visa

The 10-year Golden Visa offers long-term residency without a sponsor to certain high-net-worth individuals. The eligibility criteria include:

  • Investors with an AED 2 million deposit
  • Real estate investors with properties worth AED 2 million
  • Entrepreneurs with projects worth AED 500,000
  • Specialized talents like doctors, scientists, athletes, Ph.D. holders, etc.

Employment Visa Basics

Here are some key points about eligibility, requirements, and rules for UAE employment visa:


  • Minimum 18 years of age
  • Fall under one of the three skill classification categories based on education.
  • Category 1: Bachelor’s degree holders
  • Category 2: Post-secondary diploma holders
  • Category 3: High school diploma holders

Key Requirements

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


  • Employees must be 18+ years old
  • Sponsoring employers must have a valid trade license
  • Job role must match company activities
  • Work only for sponsoring employer


Step-by-Step Visa Application Process for UAE

Here are the key steps in getting an employment visa in the UAE:

1. Entry Visa Quota Approval

The employer initiates the process by applying for an employment visa quota approval from the Ministry of Labour (MOL). There are quotas limiting the number of foreign employees a company can hire. The company must have adequate office space per regulations to hire foreign employees. The process can progress once the MOL approves the quota application.

2. Submit Signed Employment Contract

The employee and employer sign a standardized employment contract that outlines salaries, benefits, allowances, probation period, etc. This contract must be submitted to the MOL for approval within 14 days. The MOL reviews the contract to ensure compliance with labor regulations regarding minimum wages, working hours, leaves, etc.

3. Apply for Entry Permit and Work Visa

With quota approval granted, the employer can now apply for the employee's work permit and employment entry visa. This is done on the MOL website by uploading supporting documents like educational certificates, signed contracts, passport copies, etc.

4. Get an Employment Entry Visa

Once the work permit is approved, the employee will receive an Employment Entry Visa via email. This entry visa allows the employee to legally enter the UAE within 60 days to complete medical testing, Emirates ID registration, etc.

5. Enter UAE on an Entry Visa

On arrival in the UAE on the entry visa, the employee undergoes medical testing for fitness, HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases. The medical test checks for infectious diseases while the Emirates ID application registers residency details. A test result certificate is issued within 1-2 days. 

6. Apply for a Residence Visa

Once the medical test is cleared, the employer initiates the residence visa application within the 60-day validity of the entry permit. This is done on the ICA website by paying the visa fees and uploading documents.

7. Medical Test

The medical test at an approved medical center checks for infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis. Additional tests may be needed based on the job role. The test must be taken within 14 days of arrival.

8. Submit Labor Contract

The signed labor contract must be submitted to the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE) within 14 days after medical screening. The MOHRE reviews and attests to the contract.

9. Get Health Insurance

Employers must provide health insurance coverage for employees per UAE labor law. This must offer basic coverage for hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, etc.

10. Receive Residence Visa

The employer will receive the employee's residence visa once the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approves the application. This allows the employee to reside and work in the UAE legally.

11. Apply for Emirates ID

An Emirates ID application must be submitted within 15 days of arriving in UAE. This national ID card contains the visa and residency details and is required for almost all transactions. 

With your Emirates ID application underway, you’re one step closer to starting your career in the UAE. However, it's important to navigate the job market with accurate information. Misconceptions about job hunting in the UAE can affect your career prospects and experience.

12. Visa Stamping

Previously, employees had to physically get their new residence visa stamped on their passport to reflect the visa details and validity. However, after the 2021 reforms, UAE residence visas are no longer stamped on passports. Instead, the visa information and status are linked to the Emirates ID card. Once an employee has their Emirates ID, there is no longer a need to get their visa stamped separately in their passport.

Visa Application Fees

Here are the visa fees for 2024:

Permit Type Application Fee Issuance Fee eChannel Fee
Government Sector AED 100 AED 100 (per year) AED 150
Private Sector/Free Zone AED 100 AED 100 (per year) AED 150
Investor/Partner Residence AED 100 AED 100 (per year) AED 150

Cancellation of Employment Visa

Here are some key points about canceling an employment visa:


Permit Type Request Fee eService Fee
Entry Permit AED 50 AED 10
Residency Permit AED 50 AED 10
Exit Permit AED 50 AED 10


  • Only the sponsoring employer can officially cancel the visa
  • Employer applies to MOL, ICP and cancels work permit
  • The employee gets dues cleared and signs cancellation consent

After Cancellation

  • 28 days grace period to change status or exit the country
  • No fines or penalties during the grace period

Checking Visa Status and Validity

You can easily check visa status and validity online:

Visa Status

Visa Validity

Call the ICA helpline at 600522222 Or check:

Processing time is typically 2-5 working days to update visa status.

Transferring from Visit Visa to Employment

Working on a visit or tourist visa is strictly prohibited. To transfer from a visit to an employment visa:

  • Get a proper job offer and employment contract
  • Undergo medical tests and security clearance
  • Employer initiates entry permit, work permit, and residence visa
  • Takes ~5 working days to change the status

Common Visa Frauds

Some types of visa frauds to watch out for:

  • Providing tourist visas for work purposes
  • Charging extra fees apart from official charges
  • Processing residence visas outside UAE before entry permit
  • Stealing personal information for fraud

Avoid fraud by verifying:

  • Company trade license credentials
  • Valid job offer letter from MOL
  • Employer pays visa fees as per law
  • Report fraud attempts to authorities

Working Hours, Leave Policies and Benefits

Here are some key points on working hours, leaves, and benefits as per UAE Labor Law:

Working Hours

  • Maximum 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week
  • Reduced by 2 hours during Ramadan
  • Maximum 2 hours overtime per day with pay


  • Annual leave of 30 days with full pay
  • Sick leave up to 90 days - full pay for 15 days, half pay for 30 days

End of Service Benefits

  • Gratuity pay for 1+ years of continuous service
  • Minimum AED 18,000, max AED 35,000
  • Excludes allowances, only basic salary
  • Must be paid within 14 days of the end of the contract
Read more: 8 Things to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer

So, in summary, the UAE employment visa process has become much faster and more straightforward in recent years. This guide will help you navigate the key steps and requirements to work legally in the UAE.

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