The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of hereditary absolute monarchies. It is governed by the Federal Supreme Council made up of the seven emirs of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm al-Qaiwain. All responsibilities not granted to the national government are reserved to the emirates.

Facts about the UAE:

Country name: United Arab Emirates, known as the UAE
Capital: Dubai
Population: 9.346 million (2013 census)
Language: Arabic, but English is commonly used within the business sector
Dialling code: +971
Currency: Dirham


85% of the population in the UAE consists of expatriates, also referred to as expats. These expats are usually sent on secondment to the UAE due to it’s employment opportunities, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

It’s compulsory that all businesses in the UAE must be licensed to operate in-country, whether these businesses are trading, professional or industrial. Businesses that are 51% owned by a local national is called a Main Land Company.
Free Zone Companies are businesses which are 100% owned by the company founder. There are 36 free zones in the UAE and the highest number of these free zones, adding up to 26, are situated in Dubai.

A visa is an official endorsement in a passport, usually in form of a sticker, which allows the bearer to proceed to the relevant country’s territory provided that such bearer has complied with the terms and conditions stipulated on the obtained visa.

There is only one type of work visa for the UAE and this is called the Employment visa:
This visa is only issued for 2 to 3 years at a time.

An offer of employment must come from the local company in the UAE. The prospective employee can change status from visit visa to an employment visa within the UAE, only if he / she is in the UAE or the previous visa was cancelled, but the applicant did not exit the country.

The salary of the prospective employee must be paid from within the UAE.

Some documents required for an employment visa are an Attested degree (qualification), marriage certificate and dependent children’s unabridged birth certificates. Attestation must be done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in the issuing country. If from South Africa, for instance, the degree must also be attested by the Department of High Education.

Passport with a validity of no less than 6 months, medical tests an offer of employment must be included in the visa application. An important fact to note is that there must not be any Israeli stamps in the applicants’ passport, as the visa application will be rejected. The Commercial Licence of the local company (prospective employer) must be reviewed to identify the authorized government body responsible for the issuance of the visa.

Attestation at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UAE Embassy in issuing country

  • Degree/s of applicant
  • Marriage certificate
  • Unabridged birth certificates of dependent accompanying children

Ministry of Labour (MOL) application to be submitted

  • Submit job quota application to the Ministry of Labour in the UAE

Submission of employment visa application

  • Submit the visa application at the General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs or Respective Free Zone authorities

Medical checks

  • Have the medical checks done at a government authorized clinic within the UAE

Fingerprints taken

  • Fingerprints must be taken at the Emirates Identify Authority

Residence permit stamping

  • This step must be taken at the Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs or Respective Free Zone authorities
It is absolutely compulsory for the employer to cancel the holder’s work visa before the employee departs from the UAE. If this is not done, there will be complications in the future for the employee should he / she wish to enter the UAE again.

It is the responsibility of the sponsoring company (the employer) to submit the application to cancel the visa.

The holder of the employment visa can stay in the UAE for up to 29 days from the date that the visa was cancelled, however, the visa must not have expired at the time of the cancellation.

Visa ban

Any employer can submit a ban application of an employee, by reporting him or her to the immigration authorities. The Federal Department of Immigration keeps a file o fingerprints and retina scans of these banned employees.

Immigration ban

This ban denies permit holders to enter the UAE. This ban is usually implemented if an employee stayed away and did not report for work for a long time.

Labour ban (different types)

6-month labour ban

If an employee breaks an employment contract within 2 years of working at a certain employer, he or she will be banned for 6 months of work at another employer by the Ministry of Labour.
One-year ban
This ban will be imposed if the employee did not complete his or her limited labour contract.

Yes, they can. Any spouse intending to accompany his or her partner could obtain a residence permit to do so. This is also applicable to children.

Documents normally required to obtain residence permits are most importantly an attested marriage certificate, attested unabridged birth certificates of dependent children, undertaking to sustain the accompanying family by the work permit holder and proof of financial means.

The minimum salary to sponsor a family is 4000 dirhams or UED 3000 plus accommodation costs of approximately USD 850.

No they can not. Life partners and same sex couples are not recognized for immigration purposes in the UAE. Spouses MUST be married in order to apply for a dependent visa in the UAE.


Short-term visit visa:

This visa is issued for 60 days from the date of its issuance and 30 days from the date of entry.
No work related activities are allowed on this visa.
No extension is allowed on this visa.
The UAE company or UAE resident must sponsor this visa.

Long-term visit visa:

This visa is issued for 60 days from the date of issuance and 90 days from the date of entry.
No work related activities are allowed on this visa.
No extension can be done on this visa.
The UAE company or UAE resident must sponsor this visa.

Special Mission visa:

This visa is issued for 16 days from arrival date and issued as a single entry visa.
No work related activities are allowed on this visa.
No extension can be done on this visa.
The UAE company or UAE resident must sponsor the visa.
This type of visa is usually issued to executives, businessmen and highly qualified professionals.


If your country of nationality appears on the list below, no advance (prior applications) visa arrangements are required to visit the UAE. Your passport will be stamped with a 30-day visit visa free of charge.

Hong Kong
New Zealand
San Marino
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States of America (USA)
Vatican City

If your country of nationality appears on the list below, your passport will be stamped with a multiple-entry 90-day visit visa that is valid for six (6) months from the date of issue and for a stay of 90 days in total.
Czech Republic

We provide a full range of immigration services for Southern Africa. With our professional and trusted network of partners, we have the pulse on policy issues and the practical reality, which governs immigration rules & regulations.