How to Get a Dubai Work Visa in 2024

Interested to live and work in Dubai? Find out the types of Dubai Work Visas and the steps you need to take to get a work permit in Dubai.
Dubai Work Visa

Dubai, known as the City of Gold, is both a cultural crossroads and a global financial and trade hub. An amazingly cosmopolitan city with a vast range of excellent restaurants, entertainment, and accommodation, it’s little wonder that Dubai draws expats from all across the globe.

Working and living in Dubai offers you not only the highest quality of living in the Middle East and Africa region but also complete freedom from income tax.

Heavy investment in the city in the period before Expo 2020 means Dubai has world-class infrastructure and is a secure and safe place to live.

So, if you want to live out your dreams in the City of Gold and become part of a multi-cultural workforce in one of the world’s greatest business hubs, then read on for everything you need to know about getting a Dubai Work Visa.

What Types of Dubai Work Visas Are There?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of Dubai work visa that you can apply for:

Full-Time Jobs

In order to work full time in Dubai, you will need both a residency visa and a work permit. To apply for your work permit, you will first need a job. Once you have secured your employment, it is your employer’s responsibility to apply for your work permit and visa as your sponsor.

When your employer has secured your work permit, you will be allowed to enter the country and stay for up to two months while your employer completes the remaining mandatory steps.

These include medical testing and getting a UAE Resident Identity and Labour Card.

You may also apply for a full-time work permit if you have arrived in Dubai on a visitor visa and have found work while you are there. Your prospective employer acts as your sponsor. However, you will not be able to work until you have passed the work permit process.

If you are leaving your position for another employer, you will need to have the details of your work permit updated by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDFRA).

Your ability to get a full-time work permit will also depend on the type of job you are applying for, as there are different permits with differing restrictions for skilled and unskilled workers.

Freelance Jobs

If you are self-employed or a freelance worker, you can apply for a freelance work permit. There are three specific sectors in which you can conduct freelance work: education, media, and technology.

Freelance permits are issued through the GoFreelance initiative, which is a partnership between the TECOM Group and the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority.

If you are already on the visa of a parent or spouse, you can apply for a permit that is renewed annually. If you do not have a sponsor who is a parent or a spouse, you can still apply for a freelance visa that includes a residency permit and is renewable every three years.

Remote-Working Jobs

In response to the growing number of people who are working remotely, the Government of Dubai has instituted a new remote-working permit. This new permit will allow workers and their families to live in the Emirate for up to a year while remote-working for companies around the globe.

While in Dubai on a remote-work visa, expatriate workers will be able to open bank accounts and enroll their children in local schools, something previously restricted to residents only.

Am I Eligible for a Dubai Work Visa?

Anyone above the age of 18 is eligible to apply for a work permit as long as they meet the standards set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

There is no maximum age for those applying for a work permit, but the sponsoring company will pay a higher fee for their employment.

Depending on your education, you will fit into one of three categories:

Category 1: You must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree

Category 2: You must have a minimum of a post-secondary diploma in any field

Category 3: You must have a minimum of a high school diploma

If you do not meet the minimum educational requirement for the above categories, you will be categorized as an ‘unskilled worker.’ Unskilled workers require a minimum 6-month contract.

This provision can be waived for skilled workers.

You do not apply for a work visa personally. The company hiring you applies on your behalf, so the primary eligibility factor for obtaining a work visa is having an offer of employment from a company registered in Dubai.

You will also need to pass a mandatory medical fitness test before you are able to receive your residence visa. This test checks for common communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and leprosy.

If you are found to have any of these conditions, you will be denied a visa and deported immediately.

What Are the Steps of Getting a Dubai Employment Visa?

The steps for obtaining a Dubai employment visa depend on your situation when during the application.

Situation 1: You are hired from overseas

If you are currently overseas and have received an offer of employment from a company registered in Dubai, the steps for obtaining a visa are as follows:

  • Your company must first apply for your work permit on your behalf with the Ministry of Labor. The Ministry normally makes this decision based on the absence of any unemployed UAE citizens capable of working in the position on offer.

  • Once the employer’s application has been approved, the Ministry issues an Entry Permit Visa, which allows the employee to enter the UAE for a period of 30 days. This period can be extended twice.

  • After the employee enters the UAE on the Entry Permit Visa, their employee must begin the process of obtaining a labor card. This process must be completed within 60 days of the employee arriving. The labor card is valid for up to two years.

  • The employee must then visit the Emirates ID service center with the relevant completed form, their original valid passport, and current Entry Permit Visa.

  • As part of the application process, the employee must visit a government hospital and pass a mandatory medical fitness test.

  • If your position requires you to have certain qualifications, these will need to be validated by both the UAE embassy in their home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE.

  • The final step is for the employee to visit the Department of Naturalization and Residency Dubai (DNRD) with both their visa and all other required documents so the visa can be stamped into their passport.

Situation 2: You are Hired While on a Visitor Visa

If you have entered Dubai on a visitor visa and have found work while there, you have two options:

  • You can leave the country and return. You do not have to go back to your home country and can apply for a work permit from a neighboring country using the process above.
    In fact, Air Arabia and Fly Dubai both offer so-called ‘visa run’ flights from Dubai to Oman and back again.

  • You visa status can also be changed using the ‘Changed Status’ process. Your prospective employer will need to initiate this process with the local GDFRA and the federal MoHRE.

Situation 3: You are Transferring to a New Company in Dubai

The process for transferring to a new company depends on whether you are a skilled or unskilled worker. A new Dubai work permit can be issued for an unskilled worker if they fulfill the following conditions:

Unskilled Worker

  • Both the employer and employee agree on the termination of the contract, and the employee was worked for a minimum period of six months.

  • The worker has been acknowledged to have been mistreated by their employer in the final ruling of a labor case, at which point they may apply for a new work permit without needing to complete six months of work.

Skilled Worker

A new Dubai work permit can be issued for a skilled worker if they fulfill the following conditions:

  • Under Article 1 of Ministerial Decree No. 766, an employee whose contract has expired or has been terminated can apply for a new Dubai work permit in order to join a new company. As a skilled worker in categories 1-3, there is no need for the employee to have worked for a minimum of 6 months.

Situation 4: You are Getting a Freelancer Permit

If you are a freelancer in the tech, media, or education sectors, you can apply for a freelance permit through gofreelance. As part of the application process, you will also be able to apply for a Dubai employment visa for you and your dependents.

Situation 5: You are Getting a Remote Worker Permit

Applications for remote Dubai work permits can be made through the VisitDubai website. In order to apply for a Remote Worker Permit, you will need the following:

  • A valid passport with at least six months validity remaining.

  • Health insurance that covers you while in the UAE.

  • Proof of employment for at least one year of contract validity.

  • Proof of a minimum of a $5000 per month salary, including your most recent payslip and three month’s bank statements.

What type of Dubai work visa are you thinking of applying for?
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What Documents Do You Need to Apply for a Dubai Work Permit?

While much of the application process will be handled by your employer, you will need the following documents:

  • A completed application form.

  • Several passport-size photographs.

  • Your original passport and a copy of it.

  • A copy of your valid company card.

  • The valid Dubai commercial license for you employer.

  • A valid health certificate.

  • An entry permit issued by the Ministry of Labor.

  • Your application fee.

What Are the Costs of Getting a Dubai Work Visa?

The cost of your work permit will vary depending on which category of employee you fit into, your education level, the size of your employer’s workforce, and their total turnover.

The good news is that if you are applying for a full-time work permit, your company will foot the bill.

If you are applying for a Freelance Permit, there is an AED 7,500 fee (US$2050), paid annually. If you also wish for an employment visa, that will cost AED 2,750 (US$750) for a yearly renewal or AED 5,000 ($1360) for a three-year renewal.

If you are applying for a Remote Worker Permit, there is a one-off AED 1,054 (US$287) processing fee per application.

What Types of Jobs Are Popular for Foreigners in Dubai?

If you considering finding work in the City of Gold, then here are some of the most popular and in-demand job roles for expats:

Software Developer

Expected Salary: AED 8000 / US 2180 (entry level)

                              AED 20000 / US 5445 (experienced)

Dubai has become a regional hub for both tech start-ups and expanding tech companies. As Dubai advances into the digital age, software developers are increasingly in demand to support that expansion.

One of the major draws of working as a software developer in Dubai is Dubai Internet City. This innovation and technology hub is quickly becoming the Silicone Valley of the east and drawing talent from across the globe.

Top Companies Hiring Now:

  • Experion Technologies
  • Zoondia
  • Verbat Technologies
  • Dev Technosys
  • Natweb Solutions

👉   Browse Software Developer Jobs on GrabJobs

Financial Analyst

Expected Salary: AED 8000 / US 2180 (entry level)

                              AED 14000 / US 3811 (experienced)

As both a banking and tourism hub, Dubai has a constant need for finance professionals to become the backbone of a huge range of organizations.

A large number of multinational baking and financial services are based in Dubai and are always looking for outstanding new applicants.

Top Companies Hiring Now:

  • MPH Consulting Services
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Cisco
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Mastercard

👉   Browse Financial Analyst Jobs on GrabJobs

Petroleum Engineer

Expected Salary: AED 15000 / US 4083 (entry level)

                              AED 20000 / US 5445 (experienced)

While Dubai has invested in diversification, oil and the oil industry still have a considerable presence in the Emirate. As you might expect, petroleum engineers are in constant demand in the eighth largest crude oil producer in the world.

Top Companies Hiring Now:

  • Dubai Petroleum Co
  • National Petroleum Construction Company
  • ADP Ingenierie
  • Altran
  • Bin Ghalib Engineering

👉   Browse Petroleum Engineer Jobs on GrabJobs

Marketing Experts

Expected Salary: AED 5000 / US 1361 (entry level)

                              AED 10000 / US 2722 (experienced)

Dubai is the birthplace of a whole range of new companies every year, and they all need marketing specialists to help them set themselves apart.

Social media marketers, SEO specialists, brand managers, and content managers are all in high demand, enabling you to work in a variety of sectors.

Top Companies Hiring Now:

  • Smart Click
  • EDirect
  • Amplify Dubai
  • Bruce Clay Inc
  • EDS FZE

👉   Browse Marketing Jobs on GrabJobs

Tourism Professionals

Expected Salary: AED 5000 / US 1361 (entry level)

                              AED 8000 / US 2180 (experienced)

As you might expect from one of the most highly regarded tourist destinations in the world, tourism professionals can always find work in Dubai. The City of Gold is an excellent place to work in the tourism industry because of the sheer diversity of roles on offer.

Top Companies Hiring Now:

  • Arabian Hospitality Facility Supply LLC
  • Hospitality Catering Establishment
  • Nirvana Travel and Tourism
  • Al Khaja Hospitality LLC
  • Rayna Tours and Travels

👉   Browse Tourism Jobs on GrabJobs

Working in the City of Gold

If you are looking for a rewarding career in a safe and cosmopolitan city, then Dubai is the place to be. As a global hub for sectors like finance, tech, tourism, and the oil industry, there are a dizzying array of career opportunities available in Dubai, and the benefits don’t stop there.

English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in Dubai, making communication easy, even for those who’ve never visited before. When you earn money in Dubai, you get to keep it. You won’t lose any to income tax.

The city itself is a wonder of modern architecture, filled with some of the best restaurants and entertainment venues in the world. Rich in its own culture, Dubai also celebrates the culture of those who emigrate.

If you have the right qualifications and the support of a Dubai company, the visa and work permit process is easy and straightforward. With new visas such as the freelancer permit and the remote-working permit, there have never been more ways to enjoy Dubai.

You’ll be right at home in the City of Gold before you know it. 

If you are looking to move to Dubai, we wish you the best in your job search and in your application for a work permit. Unless you need more information on getting to know the place, you may visit UAE Central for a step into a new life. 

Valentin Berard

COO at GrabJobs. Valentin leads strategic and operational activities regionally. Background in Business Development and Recruitment. Passionate about social innovation, he constantly strives to find solutions to real-world problems through harnessing smart technology. Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeberard/