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How to get a Dubai residence permit?

How to get a Dubai residence permit?

Many foreigners decide to buy a cheap apartment in Dubai and move to the UAE. Moving to Dubai entails a lot of questions and nuances, including obtaining a residence permit. In the United Arab Emirates, a residence visa grants permanent residence and privileges that UAE citizens have. It enables an expat to legally stay in the country for long term.

There are different grounds for obtaining a residence permit, however, most foreigners seek to get it when buying real estate or for work.

Below we’ll outline the advantages the UAE residence visa offers and what documents are required for the application.


Getting a residence visa for Dubai, UAE

According to statistics for 2021, more than 80% of the Dubai population consists of foreign nationals. Therefore, there are a lot of inquiries from foreigners about how they can apply for a residence permit.

In 2019, the UAE government introduced the so-called golden residency visa scheme, an analogue of a residence permit, for foreigners, investors and entrepreneurs running big businesses in the Emirate to facilitate their stay in the country.

Opportunities for UAE residents

  • The right to stay in the United Arab Emirates for 6 months or 10 years, depending on the visa type.
  • Extended rights. Expats have high economic security and privileges. For instance, they can buy property in free-hold areas and leave the country as many times as they want. They also do not have to pay income taxes.
  • A residence visa holder may leave the UAE many times with the only condition that the period between the visits doesn’t exceed 180 days. Visa holder do not have to stay in the country permanently.
  • Residence is granted not only to the applicant but also to their family - spouse and children.

Visa policy in the UAE

In 2021, citizens of most countries are not required to pre-apply for the UAE visa. A simplified visa regime allows travelers to stay in the country for up to 90 days. The document is issued for free upon arrival.

When you need to apply for a visa and when you do not need

For those planning to stay in the country for a period of less than 90 days, no visa is required as well.

The same goes for the following travel purposes:

  • tourism
  • business meetings
  • visiting relatives
  • attending business conferences

One needs to apply for a pre-arranged visit visa:

  • If their planned stay in the UAE exceeds 90 days
  • If they’d like to work for a UAE-based company
  • Upon admission to a higher education institution in Dubai or a nother Emirate
  • To receive medical treatment

Despite certain difficulties in obtaining residency, it is still possible to do this.

For a successful outcome, an applicant must meet several criteria. If you want to buy an inexpensive apartment in Dubai and move to the Emirate, you will have to seek intermediaries’ services to apply for a residence permit on your behalf.

Required documents

If you are staying in the UAE for less than 90 days (or 30 days for some countries), you will need to provide only a biometric passport, valid for at least six months to go through the immigration checkpoint. No additional documents, such as biometric cards, are required. There is also no need to pay additional fees.

Parents need to provide their child’s biometric passport and the original birth certificate with a certified translation into English, if their surnames do not match.

Below you can find the detailed information on each type of visa.

UAE residence visa

There are several ways to get long-term residency in the UAE:

  • Marriage with a UAE citizen.
  • Investments in the real estate economy.
  • Education.
  • Medical tourism. The visa is given to the patient and the person accompanying them.
  • Work.
  • Talented professionals: scientists, engineers, doctors, IT specialists.


It is important to understand that none of the above methods will allow a foreigner to become a UAE citizen. They are all about getting a residence visa. To get citizenship, an expat must have lived in the UAE for 30 years and have a formidable reputation, as well as meet several other requirements.

Work visa

This is a document that every foreigner must receive to work for a UAE company. You can’t apply for this type of visa on your own, only through a prospective employer.

To obtain it, a potential employee must submit the following documents:

  • Copy of the passport
  • Copies of education diploma or certificate

An employee is given 60 days to receive the work permit, during which they need to sign a contract and an employment agreement, and then apply for a residence visa. The duration of the visa is limited by the duration of the contract.

Visas other than work visas are not suitable for employment.

Investor visa

Who can apply for this type of visa?

  • Foreign entrepreneurs and investors
  • Property buyers

You can apply for an investor visa via the website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and the general Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Investor visa arrangement is done by an investment company or a real estate agency. An applicant is provided with the required documents checklist by an intermediary company.

Investor visa types:

  • A 6-month investor visa if you buy a property. The visa fee is $313.
  • A 3-year visa – according to Khaleej News, the minimum price of a property for this type of investor visa has been cut to $205,000 (AED 750,000). If you are buying a mortgaged property, you have to pay at least 50% of the property price or at least AED 750,000.
  • A 5-year visa is issued for buying real estate from $1,360,000, with the purchase allowed to be partially covered by credit funds. However, the housing unit must be owned for at least 3 years.
  • A 10-year visa can be obtained for investments in the UAE economy in the amount of $2,720,000 or for outstanding service.

Student visa

Getting a higher education in Dubai opens a lot of opportunities, with the graduates being welcomed all over the world. Candidates who have successfully passed the selection and enrolled in a UAE higher educational institution are eligible for a student visa.

The paperwork lies with a university licensed by the UAE Ministry of Education.

Applicants for a student visa are required to submit the following documents:

  • Student passport
  • Birth certificate (for underage applicants)
  • High school mark sheet
  • 16 passport-size photographs
  • Certificates of the latest academic qualification

Currently, a student visa is given for a duration of one year. It is renewable upon an official proof of continuation of a study issued by a UAE higher educational institution where the student is admitted.

The fee for a student visa is AED 100.

Dubai retirement visa

The Retire Dubai program provides a retirement option for foreign nationals aged 55 and over. Under this program, retired foreigners are issued with an extendable 5-year residence visa.

Besides age, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Own a property valued at least $545,000
  • Have financial savings of no less than $272,000
  • Have an active income of at least $5,440

While the program is valid for seniors from all over the world, it primarily aims at supporting employed expats in Dubai and the UAE nationals reaching retirement age.

The fee for a retirement visa is AED 3,700.

Residence permit for family members

Foreign nationals moving to the UAE for permanent residence can similarly apply for a residence visa on behalf of their dependent family members.

However, the criteria below must be satisfied:

  • Male applicants must have a minimum salary of $1,090, or $820 plus accommodation.
  • Female applicants must have a minimum salary of $ 2,722, or $2,178 plus accommodation.

Who is considered a family member?

For a male applicant:

  • Wife
  • Daughters with no age limit until they get married
  • Dependent sons below 18 years of age (or below 21 years old if they are students)
  • Adopted children
  • Parents with a monthly salary of $5,440

For a female applicant:

  • Only a husband and children

Important: There are no restrictions on the fields of employment for men in the United Arab Emirates. However, this is not the case for women, who need to work as a teacher or engineer, or have a medical profession to meet the salary requirements.

Reasons for residence permit rejection

There are several reasons why an application for a residence visa may be rejected.

Thus, applicants with a criminal record, or those previously holding a residence or tourist visa and leaving the UAE without evoking it, can get their visa application denied.

For a positive outcome, applicants need to reach out to Dubai immigration authorities. The same goes with work visas.

Other reasons include mistakes and inaccuracies in submitted documents, blurred passport copies, debt problems, bad credit history, and insufficient income.

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