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UAE Visa

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country in Western Asia. It is a sovereign constitutional monarchy, consisting of seven Emirates: Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, and Abu Dhabi, the largest Emirate as well as the capital.

With the mix of modern architecture right next to the historical and cultural landmarks, UAE attracts millions of tourists every year.

If you are planning a trip to the UAE, you may find that you need to apply for a UAE visa (or not, depending on your country). The UAE government allows nationals of several countries to enter without a visa for short stays.



Do I Need a Visa to Visit Dubai or the Other Emirates?

Whether you need a UAE visa or not depends on your nationality. Citizens of some countries are allowed to enter the Emirates without a visa or obtain one upon arrival, while others have to get it before they travel.

See the lists of who needs a UAE visa and who is exempt below:

UAE visa exemptions

Enter the UAE with an ID or passport

Nationals of the following countries (other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council) have freedom of movement and may enter the UAE with simply their passport or ID:

  • Bahrain

  • Kuwait

  • Oman

  • Saudi Arabia

Non-native residents of GCC countries are not exempt from UAE visas, but they can apply through a facilitated online process if they’re traveling with a GCC national (see below).

Visa free for up to 180 days

Nationals of Mexico may enter the UEA without a visa for up to 180 days.

Visa free for up to 90 days in any 180 day period

Nationals of the following countries may enter the UAE without a visa for up to 90 days within any 180 day period:

  • EU member states (excluding the UK and Ireland)

  • Honduras

  • Iceland

  • Liechtenstein

  • Montenegro

  • Norway

  • Russia

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Switzerland

Visa free for up to 90 days

Nationals of the following countries may enter the UAE without a visa for up to 90 days.

  • Argentina

  • Barbados

  • Brazil

  • Chile

  • Nauru

  • Paraguay

  • Serbia

  • Solomon Islands

  • Seychelles

  • Uruguay

Visa free for up to 30 days

Nationals of the following countries may enter the UAE without a visa for up to 30 days:

  • China

  • Japan

  • Macau

  • Ukraine

Citizens of all countries not mentioned above have to get a UAE visa before they travel.

Please Note: There is some conflicting information online regarding UAE Visa entry requirements for some countries. Liberia and Mongolia

  • It does not claim anywhere else other than the website of the IATA that Liberia and Mongolia citizens are visa-exempt.

Grenada

  • The website of the Government of UAE as well as the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in London state that Grenada citizens are eligible for a UAE visa on arrival valid for 90 days.

  • The website of International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of UAE do not support this information.

Nauru

  • The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states Nauru citizens do not require a visa for UAE whereas the IATA and the Government of UAE websites do not hold the same information.

Solomon Islands

  • According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, citizens of the Solomon Islands do not need a visa for UAE. This information is not supported by the Government of UAE website.




Do I Need a Separate Dubai Visa if I Have a UAE Visa?

No, you do not. There is actually no separate “Dubai Visa” since Dubai is not a country on its own; it is part of the UAE. If you have a visa allowing you to enter the UAE, then you can travel to any of its emirates, Dubai included.

Do I Need a Separate Abu Dhabi Visa if I Have a Dubai/UAE Visa?

Abu Dhabi is one of the seven emirates making up the UAE, as well as well as the capital. As such, if you are planning on visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you do not need to get a separate visa for each. If you are a visa-required national, you only have to apply for a UAE Tourist Visa and you can visit all seven of its emirates, including Abu Dhabi.

If you are exempt from UAE Tourist Visas, the process is even simpler since you can travel with just your passport.

What are the Types of UAE Visas?

The four main types of visas that the UAE offer are:

  • UAE Tourist Visas, which, as the name suggests are issued for tourism purposes or any other purpose which is shorter than 30 days and does not require you to take up employment and long-term residence in the UAE.

  • UAE Residence Visas are for foreigners who wish to relocate to the UAE. This includes:


  • Long-Term Residence Visas (Investor Visa), which is issued for a period of 5-10 years and does not require a sponsor. However, you must invest a substantial amount of money in the UAE to qualify for this type of visa.

  • UAE Transit Visas, which are issued to foreigners who have to transit through the UAE. These types of visas are issued for 48 or 96 hours.

UAE Visa Requirements

When applying for a tourist visa for the UAE, you must have several documents to support your application, such as:

  • Photocopies of your passport and the passport of your sponsor. You need a passport which has at least 6 months validity.

  • Photocopy of the passport’s relevant pages. In some cases, you may not need to submit your original passport at all. You may include photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport (or all the pages on your passport).

  • Passport-size pictures, in line with UAE visa photo requirements.

  • If you are a female travelling alone: A No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your father or husband.

  • A confirmed round-trip airline ticket or an airline ticket for onward travel. If you are applying through an airline, the ticket must be from that airline.

  • Proof of accommodation, such as your hotel.

  • A letter from you, stating the purpose and duration of your visit

  • Proof of legal residence in your country (ie. your visa or residence permit). This only applies if you are not a citizen of the country in which you are living.

  • If you have a host:

    • Proof of your relationship to the host

    • Proof of their residential status: A copy of your host’s UAE Resident Visa and/or their Emirates ID

    • Proof of their financial status: Certified copy of their work contract or their salary certificate


  • Proof of previous travels:

    • If you have been to the UAE in the last year, submit copies of the entry and exit stamps on your passport

    • Copies of any visas to the USA, UK, Schengen Area, Canada, Russia, Australia or New Zealand you have received within the past 5 years


  • You may also be required to provide:

    • Proof of your financial status

    • Proof of your current address

    • Marriage certificate


  • Any additional documents required by the relevant visa issuing authorities in Dubai/UAE


UAE Visa Application

Unlike most countries, the UAE does not issue visas through its embassies or consulates overseas. Additionally, you cannot submit a UAE Visa application yourself – you must have a sponsor in the UAE or apply through an authorized agency to submit it on your behalf.

Who can apply for a UAE Visa?

Since you cannot apply for a UAE Visa yourself, one of the following can apply on your behalf:

  • A host or sponsor who is living in the UAE.

  • A licensed travel agency through which you purchase the travel ticket. Travel agencies in your country may also be collaborating with a local tour operator in the UAE and offer tourist packages. Make sure that the travel agency you hire is reputable and licensed before you pay them.

  • The hotel in which you are staying in the UAE.

  • One of the following airlines provided that you’ll be flying with them:


Where to apply for a UAE Visa?

UAE visa applications can be submitted either online or in-person at one of the following agencies:

  • Through the eChanel portal of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship – ICA ,through which hosts, travel agencies or other sponsors can apply for a UAE Visa on your behalf. (online only)

  • Through the website of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – GDRFA (online and in-person).


  • Your sponsor or host can also apply through one of the licensed typing centres of the GDRFA in each Emirate or through one of the Amer centres in Dubai.


UAE eVisa Application for GCC Residents

Residents of any of the GCC countries are not exempt from visa requirements like GCC nationals are, but they are entitled to a facilitated online application process if they are travelling with GCC citizens.

If you are a GCC resident, you can apply for a UAE visa through one of the following websites:

Once you apply, you will receive your visa on the address which you provided. Your UAE visa is valid for 30 days, and may be extended once more for 30 additional days.

If you are a GCC resident who will be travelling alone (not with a GCC national) you cannot apply through the online portal.

Dubai Visa on Arrival Application

Citizens of the countries listed below may obtain a UAE Visa On Arrival. The Visa On Arrival is valid for up to 30 days for most countries, except the ones otherwise specified:

AndorraAustraliaBahamas*BruneiCanadaCosta Rica*El Salvador*Hong KongIrelandKazakhstanMalaysiaMaldives*MauritiusMonacoMongoliaNew ZealandSan MarinoSingaporeSouth Korea*United KingdomUnited StatesVatican

*valid for 90 days

Nationals of the following countries who have a diplomatic or service passport are also exempt from a UAE tourist visa or eligible for a UAE Visa On Arrival:

AlbaniaAlgeriaArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarusColombiaCongoCubaEgyptEquatorial GuineaGeorgiaGrenadaIndiaIndonesiaLiberiaMoroccoRwandaSaint LuciaSerbiaTongaTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanVanuatuVietnamBurkina Faso*Burundi*Chad*Congo DR*Ethiopia*Guinea*Jordan*Kyrgyzstan*Mali*Niger*Senegal*Uzbekistan*

*Diplomatic passport only


What’s the difference between a UAE Entry Permit and a UAE Residence Visa?

Foreigners who want to move to the UAE need to have a Residence Visa. However, prior to that, they must also obtain an Entry Permit. The difference between an entry permit and a residence visa for the UAE is:

The UAE Entry Permit is the document you have to obtain if you need a visa to enter the country. It is valid for a certain number of days, depending on your purpose of travel.

Your sponsor has to get an entry permit for you before you travel from by General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). The number of days you are allowed to stay in the UAE with an entry permit depends on the purpose of your travel:

  • If you are transiting, you will receive an entry permit (transit visa) for up to 48 or 96 hours.

  • If you’ll enter as a tourist, your entry permit is valid for up to 30 days (ie. tourist visa).

  • If you’re entering for employment purposes, your entry permit is valid for up to 60 days etc.

As such, a tourist visa and an entry permit are more or less the same thing.

The UAE Residence Visa is the document you have to obtain after you are already in the UAE with an Entry Permit and want to stay longer than the number of days the permit allows. Your sponsor (who must meet GDRFA’s requirements) has to apply for your Residence Visa.

What is the duration of a UAE Visa?

When you receive a UAE visa, you will usually have about 60 days to use it to enter the country. Upon entry, the number of days you are allowed to stay in the UAE depends on the purpose of your travel.

As a tourist, you can stay for up to 30 days. If you are transiting, you are allowed to stay only for up to 4 days. UAE visas for employment are issued for a maximum of 2 months, during which time you have to convert it into a Residence Visa or leave the country.

Can you extend a UAE Visa?

Yes, you can. As of 2018, you can extend almost any UAE visa or entry permit two times, each for 30 additional days and for a fee of AED 600. You have to apply for a visa extension before your current visa expires, otherwise you’ll be fined for overstaying.

You may not apply for a UAE visa extension if you fall under one of the following categories:

  • You are a visitor or tourist and you are a resident of a GCC country

  • You are a GCC resident who is accompanying a GCC national

  • You hold a special entry permit

  • You have a 96-hour permit for special missions

UAE Residence Visa extension for widows or divorced women

The UAE government offers a Residence Visa extension for divorced women or widows which allows them to remain in the country for another year starting from the time of divorce or death of their husbands without the need for a sponsor. The visa also includes their children.

They must apply through the websites or typing centres of the relevant GDRFA in their Emirate of residence.

What Happens if I Overstay in Dubai on a Tourist Visa?

If you overstay your Dubai visa, you will have to pay a fine of AED 100 for every day that you have overstayed. If you know you need to stay longer, you should apply for a visa extension.

Can You Work in Dubai With Tourist Visa?

No, you cannot. A tourist or visitor visa for UAE does not authorize the holder to work. If you want to take up employment, you must apply for a UAE Work Visa and Work Permit.

If you work in the UAE without authorization, even if you’re not paid, you will be deported and may have to pay a fine.


UAE Visa Photo Requirements

Foreigners who apply for a visa to enter the United Arab Emirates need to have several documents supporting their application. The documents vary depending on the purpose of your visit but for every application, you must have at least one visa photo, although you usually have to submit at least two.

However, there are specific requirements for the UAE visa photo which you submit, and if you do not abide by the specifications, it could lead to your visa application being rejected.

The UAE visa photo should be taken in a professional studio and it has to be recent (no older than six months) as it should reflect your current appearance.


UAE visa photo size

The size of a UAE visa photo should be 43 mm x 55 mm. However, in some places, it states that you should submit a 2-inch x 2-inch picture, which is about 50 mm x 50 mm. As there seems to be conflicting information online as to the UAE visa photo size requirements, you should ask your sponsor to provide you with the exact specifications.

If you’re submitting an electronic copy of the picture, it should be 300 pixels in width and 369 pixels in height.

UAE visa photo specifications

In addition to the size, the visa photos you submit for the UAE visa application should adhere to the following specifications:

Background, positioning, and quality

  • The background has to be white, without any patterns

  • The picture should be colored, not black and white

  • You must be in the center

  • Your head, hair, ears, and shoulders have to be in the picture

  • Your face should take up 70% – 80% of the picture

  • The picture should be of good quality: there should be no shadows, over- or under-exposure, or glare

  • The picture must show your real skin tone

  • When printed, it should be in good quality photo paper, and there cannot be any creases or staple marks

Do not edit the picture, not even to remove imperfections, birthmarks, tattoos, or red-eye. Instead, if there are mistakes, you should re-take the picture.

Unless otherwise specified, do not sign or mark the picture in any way


Facial expression

  • You must have a neutral facial expression (mouth closed)

  • You must be staring straight ahead

  • Your head should not be tilted

  • Your eyes should be open and clearly visible

Attire

  • You should wear darker clothing so that you stand out from the white background.

  • Eyeglasses are not recommended. However, if you must wear them, then make sure they do not obscure your eyes and eyebrows (no thick rims) and that there is no glare on the glass. Tinted glasses are not

  • Headgear such as hats, headbands, and accessories are not allowed. Only headgear for religious purposes is allowed. However, make sure that your head-covering does not cover your face – the forehead, chin, and other facial features should be visible.

UAE visa photo requirements for young children

Even young children, such as infants and babies, have to submit a visa photo. The specifications for a UAE visa photo for children are as follows:

  • The child should also look straight at the camera with a neutral facial expression

  • The child should be alone in the picture. You cannot be holding them up – not even your hands should be visible.

  • Toys are also not allowed

  • If the child cannot support himself/herself, then the picture should be taken from above as they are lying down.

Dubai visa photo size

Just as with the other emirates in the UAE, the size of the required pictures for your Dubai visa application is 43 mm x 55 mm (or alternatively 2-inch x 2-inch). If you’re submitting an electronic copy of the picture, it should be 300 pixels in width and 369 pixels in height.


What other documents do I need for a UAE visa?

In addition to the UAE visa photo, when applying for a UAE visa, you also need several other documents, such as:

  • A passport, along with photocopies of the passport’s relevant pages.

    • In some cases, you may not need to submit your original passport at all. You may include photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport (or all the pages on your passport)


  • A confirmed round-trip airline ticket or an airline ticket for onward travel. If you are applying through an airline, the ticket must be from that airline.

  • Proof of accommodation, such as your hotel.

  • Proof of legal residence in your country (ie. your visa or residence permit). This only applies if you are not a citizen of the country in which you are living.

  • If you have a host:

    • Proof of your relationship to the host

    • A copy of your host’s UAE Resident Visa and/or their Emirates ID

    • Certified copy of their work contract or their salary certificate


  • Proof of previous travels

  • Any additional documents related to your purpose of travel.

UAE Residence Visa Cancellation

All foreigners who live in the UAE on a Residence Visa must have it cancelled if they want to leave the country permanently. UAE visa cancellation has to be done by the sponsor on behalf of the expatriate, same as with a UAE Visa application.

How to cancel a UAE visa?

It is your sponsor who has to cancel your UAE Visa – you cannot apply for UAE visa cancellation on your own. The application process for cancelling a UAE Residence Visa is as follows:

  1. If you are employed in the UAE: Your employer first applies to have your work permit cancelled (see below).

  2. Your sponsor applies for your UAE visa cancellation at the offices of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). The GDRFA that cancels your visa must be the same one that stamped it on your passport on the first place.

You have 30 days to leave the country after your UAE visa is cancelled.


Cancelling a UAE work permit and work visa

If you are on the UAE on a Work Visa, your employer must also cancel your work permit (Labour Card) and work contract at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The application process for cancelling a work permit is as follows:

  • Your employer applies through the website of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation

  • Your employer attaches the documents electronically

  • The Ministry processes the application temporarily and forwards the information to the GDRFA

  • The GDRFA cancels your Residence Visa and informs the Ministry, who then permanently cancel your UAE work permit

Along with the application for UAE work permit cancellation, your employer also has to submit a letter, signed by you confirming that you have received all the wages, settlements, and benefits you are due. Do not sign the letter unless you really have received them.

Cancelling your UAE work permit if you are changing jobs

If you are just changing jobs in the UAE, but you will not leave the country, then your employer must cancel your work permit for you. It is easiest to change employers if you have already spent two years working for the original employer (ie. your work contract has ended). If you work contract has not ended, but you wish to change employment, then your current employer has to sign a No Objection Certificate (NOC) transferring sponsorship to your new employer.

If your current employer does not agree to the premature termination of your contract, then you may face getting an employment ban. The employment ban can be from six months to one year.

If your employer does sign the NOC and cancels your work permit, you must give your future employer the UAE visa cancellation paper so they can submit a new work permit application on your behalf.

Cancelling the UAE visa for dependent family members

If you have sponsored your family members to join you in the UAE through a Family Visa, you act as their sponsor. As such, it is up to you to cancel their UAE Residence Visas. You must cancel your dependents’ visas before your employer cancels yours.

Normally, if you are only changing jobs and will not permanently leave the UAE, you don’t have to cancel your dependents’ UAE family visas.


Where to cancel a UAE Residence Visa?

Your sponsor may cancel your UAE visa through one of the following ways:

  • In-person, through one of the typing centers of the GDRFA in the emirate in which you live. The typing center then submits the application online and processes it.

  • Online, through :

    • The website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship; or

    • The websites of the GDRFA of the relevant emirate:



Residence Visa cancellation for a person outside UAE (longer than six months)

Your Residence Visa will automatically be cancelled if you remain out of the UAE for longer than six months. If your UAE visa is cancelled while you are abroad, you must re-apply for an Entry Permit to be allowed back in.

However, there are some complications arising from cancelling your visa this way. If you left the country without formally resigning, tying off all your loose ends in regards to your job, and getting a proper visa cancellation, then your employer has the right to report you as absconding, and you may face legal repercussions if you try to re-enter the UAE later.

What documents are required for a UAE visa cancellation?

When your sponsor applies to get your UAE visa cancelled, they must submit the following documents:

  • UAE visa cancellation form, signed by the sponsor

  • Your original passport

    • If you are not in the UAE at the time your sponsor cancels your visa, they may also submit a computerised extract of your Residence Visa. The UAE’s Naturalisation and Residency Department is in charge of providing computerized extracts of visas.


  • Your original ID card

  • If your sponsor is also your employer:

    • The approval from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation

    • The UAE visa cancellation form has to be signed and sealed by the company stamp


What’s the cost of a UAE visa cancellation?

The cost for a UAE visa cancellation may differ from the specific office in which you apply. However, it usually revolves around AED 100 – AED 200. It is your sponsor who’s in charge of covering the costs of cancelling your UAE visa.

How long does it take to get a UAE visa cancelled?

It usually does not take long for a UAE visa to be cancelled. In most cases, the process takes 1 or 2 working days.  If your sponsor also has to cancel your Labour Card, that may take only 1 more working day, making it about three working days in total.


Things to keep in mind before cancelling your UAE visa

Before you get your UAE visa cancelled and leave the UAE, remember to settle some final details, such as:

  • Closing your bank account

  • Making sure you receive all your salaries, benefits, and settlements from your employer. Remember not to sign any confirmation letter if you have not.

  • Paying all your utility bills

  • Canceling your tenancy contract

  • Selling your car (if you have one)

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