An easy guide to apply for a work permit in the UAE

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  • All expatriate employees in the UAE are required to obtain a Residency Visa and Work Permit.
  • It is the employer’s responsibility to guide the employee through the entire process and furnish required documents while the employee must furnish their own personal documents and educational qualification.

work permit

Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall and innumerable tourist attractions are just a drive away? Couple that with a high standard of living, public safety and tax-free income. No wonder that Dubai magnetizes people from over the world looking for better work prospects.

If you too are planning to live and work in this ‘City of Dreams’ as a foreign expat, it is mandatory that you have a Residency Visa and Work Permit.

Why do I need a Work Permit?

With only 12% of the UAE’s population comprising of Emirati Citizens, the UAE government has imposed a few regulations to create a healthy and productive working environment for both expatriates and locals.
Mandatories like Residency Visas, Work Permits and Labor Contracts ensure that employees are given a fair chance, humane work conditions and are remunerated on par with their skills and qualifications.

What do I need to obtain one?

As an expatriate employee, you need to be sponsored by a licensed commercial establishment registered with the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry will issue you a work permit if you fulfill the following conditions:

  • You should be between 18 to 60 years of age
  • You should master a profession or hold academic qualifications necessary for the job
  • You should have a passport valid for at least 6 months
  • You should be physically fit and not have any communicable diseases

A step-by-step guide to applying for a Residency Visa and Work Permit:

Once you have met these requirements, you will first need to obtain a Residency Visa, followed by a Work Permit. Usually, expats secure a job even before they come to Dubai which means, the employer takes the onus of the application process and by law is required to bear the related financial costs.

Residency Visa

The first phase of getting a Work Permit is applying for a Residency Visa, which is usually valid for 3 years. The following are the documents needed to complete the process.

Apart from your personal documents, your employer will furnish most of these requirements:

  • An application forms
  • Your passport-sized photographs
  • Your passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Valid commercial license of your employer
  • Valid company card
  • Application fee
  • A valid health certificates
Work Permit
  • The employer will apply for an approval from the Ministry of Labor on your behalf.
  • On approval, the Ministry then issues an Entry Permit (pink visa) that allows you to legally enter the UAE. This permit is valid for 2 months and allows you to remain in the UAE for 30 days.
  • After you enter the country, the employer applies for the Work Permit. Free zone employees are issued an ID Card instead.
  • Next, you will be directed to an Emirates ID center before which, relevant documents will have to be typed out at a typing center. Remember to carry your valid passport and the entry permit.
  • Your employer will then take you to the immigration authorities after conducting valid medical fitness tests. For certain professions, you may also have to provide relevant education certificates authenticated by your home embassy in the UAE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Finally, the employer will take your medical results and all the supporting documents to the Department of Naturalization and Residency Dubai (DNRD) to obtain the visa stamp on your passport and issue your work permit.
Documents required for the Work Permit:
  • Your photographs
  • Your residency visas
  • A valid health certificates
  • Three copies of the employment contract – for the employer, for the employee and for the Ministry of Labor
  • Your education certificates and other professional qualifications
  • Your employer’s valid trade license

Things to Remember

While this process may seem overwhelming, it is not difficult. As mentioned before, your employer will escort you through the entire process as required by law. Every single working expat in the UAE has undergone these first few weeks of documentation and so will you!

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