Dubai Visa rules changed in 2018

The United Arab Emirates have offered miscellaneous implementations this year in several spheres. The most significant updates have touched Immigration related matters. Even though it’s too early to do summaries of the year but why not to sum up what happened within past 7 months and coming soon?

Let’s have a look which Immigration changes we have noted so far in 2018


It was the first implementation in 2018. Electronic system was introduced in UAE free zones located in such emirates as Sharjah, Ajman, UAQ, RAK and Fujairah. What is it? E-channel is a system which is needed for visa processing under the company. It connects each free zone company with Immigration and all visa processing (application, stamping, cancellation, dependent visas) can be done only through E-channel. No, you will not get any username or password so that to access it and see how it works. It will be operated by free zone employees. You will have to spend some costs on it registration but you will save a lot of time.

Good conduct certificate.

In February, 2018 UAE Immigration has implemented requirement to provide a police clearance letter once applying for a new visa. Those who lived here, in UAE, could get it easily through online request. But it was much more complicated for job seekers or even investors who resided outside UAE or even in several countries. This certificate had to be issued in country of residency and had to be legalized by UAE Embassy and here in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Luckily, this requirement has been postponed until further notice. Let’s hope it will not be placed back however the idea of it for as usual aimed for the better- to create the most secure society in the world, to build country where you don’t need to be afraid.

10 year residency for professionals and investors.

It was announced on May, 20 of upcoming new visa type- a long-term visa for up to 10 years which will be granted to investors, scientists, doctors, researchers and exceptional students. The details of new visas were not announced yet however it has already turned everyone’s attention.

Government believes that these changes will help professionals to look at UAE as a place of semi-permanent residency. This will give a raise as well to real estate market and bring foreign investments in it because people will feel more secure with 10-year visa opportunity rather than 2 year visa which is offered right now. Currently many specialists are looking away from UAE as it doesn’t offer stable long-term perspectives. Following the new tendencies, it is going to be changed very soon.

Freelance permit.

There have been implemented few freelance packages by TECOM group and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone. Many jobs are not attached to office and are based on personality or professional skills. This is a great opportunity for those who have been dreaming of becoming his own boss, working by his own schedule and living a dream. Some company owners would think that this is a bad thing, he will need soon to look for new staff as everyone will go freelance.

No, it doesn’t mean that you will lose your best workers as they will go to work independently. Majority will remain at their places as not everyone is ready to take responsibility to be independent. And also, just imagine, if visas were issued centrally rather than through employer sponsorship, it would remove from employers some part of the burden of visas, renewals, and associated fees. Employer won’t have to push employees to work harder if they will cooperate with freelancers, people who work on their own are more target-oriented and know how to reach the targets.

Student visas.

UAE students might also will get their visa type updated. They will be eligible for five-year residency, the official WAM news agency reported. Currently students have to run through the whole visa renewal process every year. Updates should considerably simplify life for existing students and make educational market more welcoming to those who are still choosing where to study. The residency of students currently in the UAE will be reviewed, enabling them to extend their residency after completing their studies. This is aimed to increase demand of educational programs and bring the potential future professionals to local labor market.

Transit visa.

It has also been approved to exempt transit passengers from all entry fees for the first 48 hours. Transit visa can be extended for up to 96 hours for a fee of only AED 50. You can get your transit visa at any of express counters at the passport-control across UAE airports. It’s a great chance to wider your horizons, visit one of the most progressive countries in the world or if you have already been to UAE, you can just visit your favorite places another time. There are so many things to explore in Dubai and Abu Dhabi!

Visa for job seekers.

A new 6-month visa will be introduced for job seekers who overstayed their visa but wish to work in the country. This will give more opportunities for professionals and highly skilled specialists. A win-win situation: employers will be able to choose employees locally without offering packages including repatriation packages.

Full ownership in mainland for investors.

We are still waiting for clarifications from government however so far rumors claim that it will be related to specific locations only, such as Dubai Healthcare City and Dubai Science Park (TECOM). Most probably 10 years visa and full ownership reformation are interconnected and are targeting to boost investments and development in fields related to Medicine and Scientific Research.

Amnesty program for people with overstay

UAE Immigration has just announced the Amnesty program for the individuals who are staying in the country illegally. It will help first of all those who have been “trapped” for many years and now finally can go back to their families in their home countries or legalize their status. They will not have to pay fines and will not get into jail. Residents on overstay can avail of the amnesty within next few months from August 1 to October 3. Illegal residents wishing to exit the country can approach the Immigration department and get exit permit.

2013: Almost 62,000 illegal residents took advantage of the last visa amnesty, which ran for two months.

2018: Of the 1,534 people who applied for amnesty on the first day in Dubai, one young man had accumulated more than Dh1 million of overstay fines because he was born undocumented in the UAE 18 years ago.

So what does it all mean for all of us?

The UAE has shown its progressiveness and brave look into changes for the better, this country is not afraid to try new things and to work hard on its development, including Immigration regulations. Creating new visa categories represents a large movement toward having a visa system that is more stable and closely resembles a number of European and North American states.

It is good to feel that country gives opportunities not only to self-development but also takes care of situations when something went wrong. Just in 2 month we will see how many people have used amnesty program to change their lives for the better.

Yes, some regulations haven’t been implemented yet, eligibility and requirements for new visas aren’t clear for now, but they will definitely open new horizons to UAE residents or those who are willing to move to the UAE. It should affect local labor and real estate market in perspective by creating additional comfort for investors to feel more secure of placing their funds in development of business and residential property. Let’s wait for some more details and see if plans will work out. What else do you think this year will bring to our attention?

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