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Getting a Work Permit & Visa for Dubai and How Much It Cost

Do you want to live and work in Dubai? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to get UAE visa and Dubai work permit from UK or India and how much it cost.

In 2018, reports have it that out of the 9.54 million people living the UAE, almost 8.5 million were expats. This simple statistic buttresses the fact that the UAE is a popular destination for migrants. The number of migrants in Dubai is so high that only about 15% of the population are native to Dubai. A majority of the inhabitants there are from India, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, the Philippines, and Europe.

The emirate is one of the world’s top hubs for expats, thanks to its status as an (almost!) tax-free emirate that combines both the glitz and glamour of a huge, metropolitan city, with the serenity and beauty of the beaches at its doorstep.

Shopping, fine dining and a luxury nightlife scene attract expats from all over the world who are looking for a place to enjoy the sweetest things of life. When compared to the dull skies of the uk, Dubai just like India, is blessed with a tropical climate and seemingly permanent sunny skies, thanks to its position near the Tropic of Cancer.

Also, crime rates are low in Dubai, as the Emirate has a visible and friendly police presence. Dubai is a place you can raise a family, get easily assimilated into the community and even buy property and land. Although the official religion of Dubai is Islam, expats are generally able to lead relaxed lifestyles as long as they respect and abide by the local laws and customs.

British citizens unlike their Indian counterparts are granted a Visit Visa free of charge on their arrival to the UAE. This allows them a stay of 30 days (which can be extended by another 30 days towards the end of the validity once you’re in Dubai).

You must have a return ticket out of Dubai as well as six months minimum validity on your passport. But in both countries, you can apply for a Multi-Entry Visa to Dubai, which will be of particular interest to Brits and Indians who fly in and out of the UAE often.

This is valid for 6 months, but only for stays of up to two weeks at a time. If your plan is to work in Dubai, your employer will be your ‘sponsor’ and they will arrange a work permit and employee residency visa for you.

Have it in mind that immediately you first arrive in the emirate, you should work with your company to procure a probationary three-month work permit which will allow you to start work immediately. Foreigners working without a work permit or on a Visit Visa risk being fined, deported and even jailed.

How to Get a Work Permit and Visa for Dubai

All foreigners in Dubai need a work visa, known as a Labour Card, to work legally. The authorities take great care to seek out and prosecute or deport those working without a valid visa, so it’s important to have the right paperwork.

The only exception made is for students who can sometimes work in intern positions under the terms of their student visas, and some women who are in the country under the sponsorship of their male relatives. But these are strictly regulated, so make sure you’re confident of the terms of your visa before undertaking any work in the UAE.

Note that there are over a dozen visa types used to live and work in the UAE. Each of the emirates manages aspects of its own visa processes, which means that there are some variations across the different cities in terms of the steps and documents required.

Since Dubai welcomes a large number of expats, the process has been adjusted to be as simple as possible. But it’s pertinent to understand the requirements, as you may run the risk of being arrested or deported if you have the wrong visa type. Even if you have visa free entry, this limits your stay and the activities you’re entitled to undertake, so you’ll probably need a work visa before you can get a job.

For most individuals, their employer takes responsibility for applying for visa, paying the fees and navigating the administration. The employer might also apply for a work entry permit for the private sector or free zone as this gives them 60 days in which to arrange residency once they arrive in Dubai.

Have it in mind that to work in the long term in Dubai, you’ll need to get a residency visa which allows you to stay for up to 3 years. Other visa types typically don’t exceed 90 days. The residency visa is important because without it you won’t be able to open a bank account or get a driving license.

Run Medical Checkup

Meanwhile, to obtain a visa you’ll also need to undergo medical checks for contagious and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s possible that you’ll be deported if your medical certificates aren’t clean. The medical check includes a chest X-ray and blood tests to check for certain communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, Hepatitis and tuberculosis.

Get Approval from UAE Ministry of Labour

The next step towards getting your work permit is to get approval from the Ministry of Labor. The employer will apply for this on behalf of the employee.

If the approval is for application in any of the free zones, approval must be granted before the employee enters the UAE. Note that during this approval process, the Ministry of labor usually bases its decision by checking that there are no unemployed UAE citizens who are able to perform the relevant job.

Upon receipt of approval, the Ministry issues an Entry Permit visa (also known as a pink visa) which allows applicants to legally enter the UAE. This permit is valid for 2 months from the date of issue and allows the holder to remain in the UAE for a period of 30 days, extendable twice.

Meanwhile, after the employee enters the country, the employer then starts the application process for the labor card. For free zone employment, an ID card will be issued; both IDs and labor cards are typically valid for 2 years. Immediately the employee enters the country, he has sixty days to complete all the formalities mandated to get a residence visa. Its necessary that you complete these procedures as soon as possible rather than waiting till the last moment.

Apply for Residence Permit

After that, the employee then goes to the Emirates ID service center after getting the relevant form typed up at any typing center. Original valid passport and valid entry permit are required. The employer can now apply to Immigration authorities for the residence visa; the employee needs to go to any of the government hospitals for their medical fitness tests.

There are some professions that require employees to provide relevant educational qualifications which will be authenticated by the UAE embassy in your home country as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE. Immediately the employer has the results of the medical fitness test, he can then go to the Department of Naturalization and Residency Dubai (DNRD) with all the supporting documents and the visa can be stamped on the employee’s passport.

Documents You Needed for Labor Card (Work Permit) include;

  • Applicant’s photographs
  • Residency Visa
  • Valid Passport (minimum six month validity required)
  • Valid health certificate
  • Three copies of the employment contract – one for the employer, one for the employee and one for the Ministry of Labour
  • Education certificates and other evidence of professional qualifications
  • Sponsoring company’s valid trade license

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Work Permit and Visa in Dubai?

It’s very important to state that the cost of a Dubai work permit and visa depends on the category of your company and whether you are a skilled or unskilled worker.

  • Skill Levels

Level 1: These are the individuals who have a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification. These are some of the qualified professionals: Manager, Engineer, Doctor, Teacher, Accountant, Accounts Clerk, Marketing Specialist, Quantity Surveyor, Executive Secretary, Pharmacist, Administration Officer, Reservation Officer, Safety Officer, Public Relations Officer, Computer Operator, and Advertising Designer.

Level 2: Individuals who fall under this category are those who have completed their diploma in any field. This category typically involves people who are in mechanical and technical jobs.

Level 3: If you have high school or higher secondary qualification. Sales Executive, Sales Representative, Sales Supervisor, Site Supervisor, Administration Clerk, Correspondence Clerk, Customs Clearing Clerk, Ticketing Clerk, Cash Desk Clerk, Receptionist, Cashier, Store Keeper, Tourist Guide.

A, B, C, and D refers to the percentage of skilled/unskilled workers the company employs. (A has over 40% skilled workers. D has less than 5%.). Below is a clear description of company categories in Dubai and how much each pay for work visas.

  • 1 300 AED (81 USD) – 300 AED (81 USD)
  • 2-A 500 AED (136 USD) – 1200 AED (326 USD)
  • 2-B 1000 AED (272 USD) – 2200 AED (600 USD)
  • 2-C 1500 AED (408 USD) –    2700 AED (735 USD)
  • 2-D 2000 AED (544 USD) –  3553 AED (967 USD)
  • 3 5000 AED (1361 USD) – 5000 AED (1361 USD)

This is only a breakdown of work visa costs. If your company is not covering your visa fees, be sure to factor in extra costs for medical tests, translation services, legal fees, etc. On average, a Dubai visa costs about 7000 AED (1,900 USD).


Note that once you have a valid residency permit and visa, you can bring your family to Dubai as long as you earn AED 10,000 a month. You can be mandated to provide payslips to prove that your salary and housing allowance from a private employer are sufficient to meet this limit.

A visa application must be submitted on behalf of each family member before arriving in Dubai. Also don’t forget that social norms are very conservative, so unlike in some countries, this family reunification programme will not extend to unmarried or same sex partners. If you’re sponsoring your daughter’s entry to the country, you might be asked to sign documents confirming she isn’t married.

Meanwhile, you can find out more about living and working in Dubai on the website of the Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs. Respecting the culture and values of your host nation is very necessary, and this website contains a lot of details about behavioural expectations in Dubai and the UAE.

Also have it in mind that visas and labour permits must be actively cancelled before you leave the country. Even if the permit will expire after you leave, you or your sponsor must make arrangements for the visa to be cancelled, or you’ll struggle to get a subsequent visa to enter Dubai. Visa requirements may be changed without updating relevant websites so applicants should always check with their respective consulates or embassies for the latest requirements.