Types of Visas in the UAE

types of visas in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a sought after destination for living and working. Of the seven Emirates, Dubai is the leading city for foreign nationals to settle in with around 90-percent of its residents made up of foreigners.

A UAE residence visa offers a lot of benefits for foreigners: tax-free incomes, world-class infrastructure, access to the global market, a large number of employment opportunities, a leading education system, a diverse economy, and high quality of living.

To get a green card or residence visa for Dubai and the UAE, you’ll need to meet certain criteria, such as finding a job or starting a company. Despite recent changes to the Dubai visa application regulations and types of visa in UAE to make the process simpler, to apply for a UAE residence visa is still an overwhelming and complex affair.

The simplest and quickest way to get a Dubai and UAE residence visa is by registering a company or finding a job in Dubai.

When contacting Trade License Zone’s business setup specialists, we can assist and guide you through the processes of establishing your company and getting your Dubai visa in the UAE. We will help you know how to get a UAE visa, navigate foreigners affairs details, collect required documents, how much their visas cost, their basic criteria, and the different visas available in the UAE.

Eligibility Criteria for getting UAE Residency Visa

The main aim in applying for a UAE Residency Visa serves as a way for you to sponsor your family to join you in the UAE on a Family Visa. The UAE Residency Visa is open to individuals in the following classification:

  1. For employees living and working in the UAE, to be eligible to apply for a Residency Visa they will need to earn more than AED 4000 (or, AED 3000 plus an accommodation package). They aim this at individuals that work in the UAE for the government or in a private company.
  2. For students older than 18 years of age to study in one of the many learning institutes.
  3. For individuals living in Dubai and the UAE as a dependent on a UAE citizen or foreign resident.
  4. For individuals who have invested in the UAE as a business owner or majority shares in an established company.
  5. For an individual who’s purchased property in the UAE.
  6. For people looking to retire in the UAE.

Types of UAE Residence Visas

They divide the UAE Residence Visas into categories:

#1: Work Visa:

This visa is for foreign nationals who’ve found employment in the UAE and have gotten a Work Permit.

#2: Student Visa:

They devised it for foreigners older than 18 years of age that have been accepted into a college, university or other such education institutes in the UAE. Students with outstanding academic performance can apply for a ‘Golden Visa’ with a 5-year validity to continue their studies in the UAE and find employment.

#3: Family Visa:

Devised for family members of UAE citizens or foreign residents, the Family Visa enables them to live in the UAE.

#4: Investment Visa:

This Business Visa is for foreign nationals who’ve invested in property and/or businesses in the UAE. The ‘Golden Visa’ offers 5- and 10-year visas for eligible individuals.

#5: Retirement Visa:

It is for elderly foreigners who aim to retire in the UAE. Strict financial criteria must first be met.

#6: Remote Work Visa:

They aim this new visa category at attracting talented individuals from around the world. It is a one-year visa that is renewable an unlimited number of times for people that live in the UAE under self-sponsorship. This allows them to work for their employers or contractors remotely from UAE. The Remote Work Visa holder’s immediate family is also eligible to live in the UAE under this visa.

Requirements for a UAE Residence Visa

When you apply for a UAE Residency Visa, you’ll need the following documentation to support your submission:

  • Visa application form
  • Original passport
  • Passport photos
  • Your UAE Entry Permit to visit UAE
  • Proof of your Entry Permit’s sponsor’s legal residency/UAE citizenship (if applicable)
  • Proof of passed medical test
  • Proof of your UAE health insurance plan coverage
  • To sponsor Family Visas, you’ll be required to submit proof of family connection with either birth certificates or marriage certificates (when applicable)
  • With Work Visa applications, the sponsor must include a work contract and copies of the company’s trade license and valid establishment card

UAE Residence Visa Application Process

In applying for your Residence Visa, you need to have entered the UAE on an Entry Permit. Your sponsor needs to apply for an Entry Permit on your behalf – and the same for your Residence Visa. However, you may apply for your own Residence Visa under certain conditions. The following process outlines this process for sponsoring different visa types for the UAE: 

  1. For Work Visa, your employer is the sponsor
  2. Student Visa: your school serves as your visa sponsor
  3. Family Visa: if you’re applying for a Family Visa, your family member that is a UAE citizen or foreign resident is the sponsor
  4. If you’re an investor/company owner or property owner, you may apply for a UAE Residence Visa yourself as your company/property serves as sponsorship for your visa.

Steps for Applying for a UAE Residency Visa

Step 1: Partner with Trade License Zone

Partnering with a local company setup agency such as Trade License Zone is the first step to opening any type of business in Dubai, UAE. To benefit from the legal structures of operating with a trade license, you will need to follow a strict business structure and formation regulations. Our specialists at Trade License Zone will manage all aspects of your company formation process and guide you on the various governmental and municipal trade regulations for operating in the UAE. We will also guide you in the additional documents required for the types of visas, entry permits, and other such visa services.

Step 2: Choose a Business Structure

Free Zones are a Dubai innovation that creates special economic zones for dedicated industries. The different Free Zones offer various benefits, such as tax incentives and business support services designed for each industry. Free Zones not only offer trade licenses to businesses but also access to first-class infrastructure, business clients, skilled workers, and a high volume of customers.

Step 3: Choosing and Registering a Business Name

Trade License Zone will help you select the right name for your business. According to the Registry Office, the business name may not include any offensive or blasphemous language, nor any references to Islam or Allah. You can include your name in your company name, but you must use it in full rather than just your surname or initials. We’ll then check if the name is available to be registered.

Step 4: Notarize your Company’s Documents

During this process for your company and visa, you’ll also need to apply for the notarization of your company’s documents. Once the Registry Office has approved your company’s name, you can have the business’ Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA) notarized with the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).

Step 5: Submit your Business License Application

Once your documents are notarized and your application forms are completed, we will submit them along with your additional documents and business plan to the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai (and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing for Tourism Licenses). The list of documents required for a successful approval are:

  • Proof of ID and address for directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies for shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name confirmation from the Registry Office
  • Copy of license application forms
  • Proof of initial activity approval from Dubai’s management agencies
  • Notarized Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Notarized Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Copy of the lease or property agreement of the company’s physical address
  • Payment for specific trade license

Step 6: Getting your Trade License

Once approved, the DED will issue your company with a relevant trade license. This process usually takes 2 weeks, but because of the limitations of COVID-19 restrictions, this may take up to 4 weeks.

Step 7: Visa Sponsorship

As with the previous steps, this one can be done remotely – without you being in Dubai or the UAE. Your visa sponsor must apply for your Entry Permit from one of the following channels:

  • Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA)
  • General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA)

Step 8: Entry into the UAE

When you enter UAE with your entry visa, your sponsor must apply for your Residence Visa on your behalf at the GDRFA in the city in which they live. At the same time, they will be required to pay your Residence Visa fee. Once your application is approved, the GDRFA will affix a Residence Visa to your passport and you will receive an Emirates ID card and a valid labor card too.

UAE Residence Visa fees

Fees for Residence Visas differ according to the duration and type of visa. Typically speaking, fees for a 1-year visa are AED 100. Processing fees are around AED 40. Also, remember that you’ll have to pay additional fees for your medical exams and your UAE health insurance coverage.

UAE Residence Visa duration

The duration of UAE Residence Visas differs. Most range from 1 to 3 years. The ‘Golden Visa’ is for 5- and 10-year periods. An Investment Visa has a duration of 5 years and a Retirement Visa of 10 years. All types of UAE Residence Visas are renewable an unlimited number of times as long as they meet their specific criteria.

Renewing your UAE Residence Visa

You can renew your UAE Residence Visa within 30 days of its expiration date. The renewal process follows the same steps as when applying for it. The GDRFA also processes all renewals.


Starting a business of your own is the quickest way to get a visa in Dubai, UAE. Using one of the four trade licenses highlighted in this article will ensure that you start your business with the right structure in the UAE. Partnering with a company formation specialist such as Trade License Zone will enable you to get started without delays.

While the trade license process has been streamlined and simplified by the government, it still takes some hard work and in-depth knowledge of the region, its markets, its many customs and regulations to make the right decisions.

That’s why it’s always advisable to sign up for the services of a UAE business setup company to guide you on your company’s license and setup based on your needs and budget.

When you work with Trade License Zone’s professional consultants, we’ll guide and manage the entire incorporation process for you, and guide you through the latest government regulations regarding your trade license application and business needs. Get in touch today for a personalised quote and competitive advantage.

We’ll give you peace of mind that your trade license and visa applications are free from errors and omissions – both of which can lead to delays and rejection.

All you need to provide is some basic documentation and some information about your company. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant government departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to trade. It is that simple.

Contact us to get a personalized quotation based on your business activity