Dubai, like all emirates in the UAE, has its own Department of Naturalization and Residency, also known as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs that handles immigration and visa issuance. Most of those already living in Dubai are not immigrants, but expats with a Dubai residence permit that grants them the right to live in the emirate. Residence visas are issued for a specific period of time and must be renewed every one, two or three years.
Most immigrants come to work in Dubai and that is why the companies they work for will handle all visa proceedings. However, for those wanting to set up a company and obtain residency, our company formation agents in Dubai will help with all the procedures, including for other emirates in UAE.
We invite you to read below about the main ways in which you can immigrate to Dubai. Our local consultants can also help you open a company in Dubai which represents one of the easiest ways of relocating here.
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Immigration options in Dubai – UAE
Compared to several years ago, the immigration options for foreign citizens interested in moving to the UAE have increased. The Dubai government has tried its best and succeeded in offering advantageous conditions for those willing to immigrate here by enabling new laws and regulations related to employment conditions and business opportunities.
Those who want to immigrate to Dubai have several options, among which:
- by applying for one of the visas which allow a foreign citizen to live in Dubai (student visas and family reunification visas);
- by obtaining an employment visa which implies securing a job offer from a local company first;
- through the investor visa which is available for those interested in starting a business in Dubai;
- through the residency by investment program which was recently enabled in Dubai.
It is important to know that in certain cases a sponsor is required for the person immigrating to Dubai.
Our Dubai company formation advisors can provide detailed information on all the ways in which a foreigner can relocate to this Emirate and others in UAE.
What is the best way to immigrate to Dubai?
Those interested in immigrating to Dubai – UAE have few options:
- obtain an employment visa,
- the family visa if the individual has a family member already established in Dubai,
- obtain a business visa when opening a company in Dubai.
Obtaining a work permit is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways to immigrate to Dubai. The initial application allows an individual to obtain a three-year visa that can be extended indefinitely. The work permit may be obtained if an employer applies for the visa on behalf of the employee. However, the future employee must also meet certain criteria and provide certain documents prior to the application. The main category of work permit is the Dubai residence visa for employment.
Family-sponsored visas are available for those with a family member residing in Dubai. In this case, the family member, also known as the sponsor, must make a security deposit payment and must provide his or her residence permit when applying for a Dubai family visa.
You can watch the video below for more information on how to immigrate to Dubai:
The Dubai investor visa
The Dubai investor visa is for foreign businessmen who make an important investment in the city. The Dubai investor visa has a three-year validity. Similar to the investor visa is the partner business visa that allows residence based on the value of shares a partner has in a Dubai company. Each type of business visa is subject to certain security deposit payments.
Those involved in business relations with companies in Dubai may apply for a multiple-entry visa that will allow them to come to the city as many times as it is necessary. Immigration to Dubai on business purposes allows individuals to apply for several types of visas depending on the investor’s needs.
The Dubai residence by investment program
Not long ago, the Dubai government enabled the residency by investment program through which a foreign national can immigrate to the UAE by purchasing a property in Dubai. The minimum amount to be invested in real estate in order to obtain residency is 1 million AED. This must the purchase value of a property under this program. It is also worth noting that the investment must be made in residential property and the applicant must also submit proof of 10,000 AED as a monthly income. Following the relocation to Dubai, the applicant can become a sponsor for other family members who want to relocate.
The new Immigration Law in the UAE
As seen above, there are several types of visas a foreign citizen may apply for when immigrating to Dubai. One of the easiest ways to do that is the employment visa which is based on two main requirements: the work contract and the sponsor.
In 2015, the UAE government introduced three new amendments in the UAE Immigration Law:
- Decree 764 which refers to standards employment contracts;
- Decree 765 which refers to the termination of limited and unlimited employment contracts;
- Decree 766 which refers to the issuance of new work passes.
The first decree eases the employment offer a Dubai company sends to a foreign candidate. Under the new law, the employment offer may be considered a work contract as soon as the candidate agrees and signs the offer.
The second article in the 2015 Immigration Law refers to the termination of employment which can now take place if the two parties agree to end work relation before the contract itself ends. The same termination clause applies to renewed contracts. The end of work relations must be agreed by the employer and employee and a written notice must be given.
The third decree refers to the release of a new employment permit for immigrants in Dubai right after a previous work contract has terminated. However, this provision applies to skilled foreign workers entering classification categories 1,2 and 3.
Sponsorship requirements when immigrating to Dubai
As seen above, there are cases where a sponsor is required for those immigrating to Dubai. Among these, foreign employees need a sponsor (in this case the company hiring them will be the sponsor). Those who want to open an onshore company in Dubai will need a local partner in order to set up the business.
In the case of family members relocating to Dubai, the members established here will cat as sponsors. It should be noted that women cannot act as sponsors.
Our company registration agents in Dubai can offer more information on the sponsorship requirements applicable when immigrating to Dubai or other emirate in UAE.
Obtaining citizenship in the UAE
Even if it is not common for the UAE government to grant citizenship to foreign citizens, there are cases where a foreigner can obtain an UAE passport. One of the conditions for obtaining citizenship is for the foreigner to live in Dubai for at least 30 years.
Children of foreign citizens born in Dubai will directly acquire UAE citizenship. Also, the children of UAE citizens born outside the country can obtain citizenship after they reach the age of 18, while women married to UAE citizens can apply for citizenship after 3 years of marriage.
It is important to note, though, that most expats living in Dubai choose to do that only through ordinary residence permits.
If you are interested in immigrating to Dubai for business purposes, our agents can help you obtain the necessary visas and open a Dubai company.
Document requirements when immigrating to Dubai
The documents which need to be prepared and filed with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs depend on the type of visa the foreign citizen applies for.
Generally speaking, the following documents must be prepared when immigrating to Dubai:
- the valid passport;
- recent photographs;
- proof of financial means to support oneself;
- proof of accommodation;
- job offering letter (in the case of employment visas);
- the property title of the purchased property (required under the residence by investment program);
- information about the sponsor (where required).
Our Dubai company formation consultants can advise on the documents required when immigrating to Dubai.
Immigration statistics in the UAE
The UAE is one of the most appealing countries in the Middle East for those who want to work and open companies. As a matter of fact, statistics indicate that:
- out of the 9.54 million individuals living in the country, around 8.5 million were expats (2018);
- with respect to Dubai, only 15% of its population is represented by UAE nationals;
- most of the foreign residents in the UAE come from India (2.623 million inhabitants in 2018);
- there are 6 types of visas available for those interested in immigrating to the UAE.
You can contact our company incorporation agents in Dubai to find out all the eligibility criteria for immigration. Our local consultants can also help foreign investors interested in opening companies in Dubai or other emirates in UAE.