UAE residence visa process

The United Arab Emirates does not issue UAE Permanent Residency. The visas issued are for a duration of 2 years or 3 years. This time frame would depend on the jurisdiction in which you obtain the visa from. The visa can be renewed unlimited number of times, so in a way this is what people call permanent residency in this country. These visas are to be renewed after they expire if you want to remain in the country.

You are given a 30 day grace period for this after visa expiration. During the initial visa application process, you are expected to go for biometrics where your picture, finger prints and signature would be taken. You will not need to do the biometrics process during your visa renewal. However, the medical check will have to be done every time.

The various ways of getting a resident visa include the following:

  • Student
    You can begin the visa process as a student after you have received your admission letter from the school of your choice.
  • Employee
    After you get your offer letter of employment from your prospective employer and you have signed it, your new employer can then begin the process for your employment visa.
  • Company owner
    As a company owner, you can begin the application for your UAE residence visa after your establishment card application has been approved by the immigration. Without this approval, you won’t be able to proceed to apply for an entry permit.
  • Dependent
    A dependent can be a wife, child, father or mother. The sponsor would file for the dependent and can have them under his/her visa. The sponsor is expected to rent an apartment with the tenancy contract in their name.
  • Holding property
    Purchasing real estate is a way to be eligible for a residence visa in UAE. The purchase value of the property (not the market value) has to be 1,000,000 AED or above. Note that this property has to be in ready condition and be habitable, otherwise the visa will not be issued.


The first step is to do the visa application and make payment for it. After that, you can go for the medical tests which takes between 24-48hrs to get the results. Once that is successful, you go for the visa stamping in your passport which takes 3- 5 working days and Emirates ID application process takes about 3-5 working days as well.

You are required to go for biometrics which includes taking your photograph, fingerprints and e-signature. For those that have undergone the biometrics, when it comes to their Emirates ID renewal, you will not need to undergo another one.


Starting a business in Dubai is one of the best ways to obtain UAE residency and run the business.

The business set up costs here is more expensive when compared to other jurisdictions. This is because Dubai is prestigious and has one of the biggest free zones in the world.

Dubai has multiple free zones for your company formation that support various business activities.

One advantage of registering your company in Dubai is that regardless of your nationality, your company formation approval is 100% guaranteed. It is the best option for those nationalities that are considered as high risk.

There are two authorities where you can register your new business when it comes to starting a business in Dubai:

1. Dubai Free Zone

  • Companies incorporated here are owned 100% by the shareholders. Some of the free zones in Dubai include:
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)
  • Dubai South (DWC)
  • Dubai Publishing City
  • Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC)
  • Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA)
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA)
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis

2. Dubai Mainland

In the mainland, a local sponsor needs to be appointed as a co-shareholder of your company and he would own 51% while the investor owns 49% shares in the company. But this applies to trade businesses only. If you have a consultancy or a services company, the UAE national will be appointed as your agent only and will not hold any shares in the business.

An alternative to setting up a company in Dubai is in Ajman Free Zone. Ajman Free Zone company registration takes around 2-3 working days to be completed. Set up can be done remotely and it doesn’t have capital requirements or need an audit.

The drawback of this free zone is that it requires a refundable deposit to the immigration for visa eligible companies. This deposit would be given back to the company owner in the event of liquidating the company.

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