Dubai work visa processing time: How long does it take?

          How to Apply for an Employment Visa in Dubai

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          Dubai, a bustling metropolis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has emerged as a global business hub, attracting professionals from all corners of the world. Securing an employment visa is crucial for any expatriate looking to work in this dynamic city. Essentially, an employment visa serves as your legal permit to live and work in Dubai, and obtaining one involves a series of steps initiated by your employer, compliance with local laws, and careful preparation of necessary documentation.

          Understanding the Employment Visa

          What is an employment visa? Simply put, it is a visa that allows non-UAE nationals to work in Dubai under a formal employment contract. It is distinct from a tourist or visit visa, as it grants the holder the right to reside and earn an income in the city.

          There are several types of employment visas in Dubai, including:

          1. Standard Employment Visa – for the regular employee.
          2. Free Zone Visa – for those employed by companies within Dubai’s Free Zones.
          3. Offshore Visa – for employees of offshore companies operating in Dubai.

          The requirement for an employment visa applies irrespective of your level of seniority, nationality, or the nature of your profession. As long as you intend to work in Dubai, you need this visa to comply with local labor laws.

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          The Application Process

          The journey to secure an employment visa in Dubai starts with the steps the applicant and employer must take in alignment. Here’s an overview of the application process:

          1. Job Offer and Contract Signing: It begins with securing a job offer from a UAE-based company, which must then be converted into a formal employment contract.
          2. Work Permit Approval: Your employer must obtain an initial approval for your work permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

          The table below provides a summarized list of the documentation required to proceed with the application process:

          Document TypeApplicant’s ResponsibilityEmployer’s Responsibility
          Passport copy with at least 6 months’ validityYesNo
          Passport photos (white background)YesNo
          Educational Certificates and Professional QualificationsOften YesNo
          Employment Contract copyNoYes
          Company’s trade license copyNoYes
          Entry Permit issued by the Immigration DepartmentNoYes

          The role of your sponsoring company is critical at this stage. They not only apply for the initial approval but also facilitate the entry permit needed for you to legally enter the UAE if you are not already in the country.

          In addition to the work permit, it’s beneficial to understand the specific function of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). This government body oversees the whole process, ensuring legal compliance both from the employer and the prospective employee. MOHRE’s approval is necessary to proceed with the next steps, and their regulations are designed to protect the rights of workers in Dubai.

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          After Submission

          Once the foundational steps of documentation and approvals are taken care of, your next steps after submitting your application will have significant implications on the final outcome. It’s essential to closely monitor the application’s status and be responsive to any request from the MOHRE or the Dubai immigration authorities.

          Medical Fitness Test and Emirates ID

          Upon your arrival in Dubai, or if you are already present in the country, the next mandatory step is to undergo a medical fitness test at government-approved health centers. The medical examination screens for infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis to ensure public health safety.

          1. Schedule an appointment for your medical fitness test as soon as possible to avoid delays in your application process.
          2. Follow all the guidelines provided by the health centers for a smooth and hassle-free experience.

          After a successful health check, you will apply for your Emirates ID, which is a legal requirement for every UAE resident. The Emirates Identity Authority handles this application process, and it involves submitting biometric data and a personal photograph.

          Visa Stamping and Residency Permit

          The visa stamping process refers to the physical stamp, or sticker, placed in your passport, which serves as the official indicator of your employment visa. This generally occurs after the medical test results are cleared. The UAE residency permit—a card separate from the Emirates ID—is then issued, allowing you to legally reside in Dubai. Here’s a brief overview of these final steps:

          1. Once your health check is approved, take your passport, medical test results, and work permit to the immigration office for the visa stamping process.
          2. After receiving your residency permit, you are officially recognized as a UAE resident, completing the employment visa process.

          Best Practices to Enhance Your Chances

          A successful employment visa application is not merely about completing forms and following steps; it’s also about understanding the nuances and being meticulous with your documentation.

          • Ensure all documents, including your educational certificates and professional qualifications, are attested by the necessary authorities.
          • If there is an age limit for employment visa in UAE for your profession, double-check that you meet the criteria before initiating your application.
          • Stay informed about the latest immigration laws in UAE, as they’re subject to change.
          Labour approval time in UAE: Know the processing duration


          The employment visa procedure in UAE requires patience, attention to detail, and, most importantly, adherence to the legal framework established by MOHRE and the UAE immigration department. By following the outlined steps and remaining proactive throughout the process, applicants can streamline their experience and embark on their new career in Dubai with confidence.


          What is the average Dubai employment visa processing time?
          The processing time can vary, but typically it takes about 2-4 weeks for the employment visa to be processed after all necessary documents are submitted.

          How long is the employment visa valid in Dubai?
          Generally, employment visas are valid for 2-3 years and are renewable as long as you continue to be employed.

          Can I apply for an employment visa by myself?
          No, you must have a sponsor, typically your employer, who will apply for the visa on your behalf.

          Is there an age limit for employment visa in UAE?
          Yes, although the specific age can vary depending on the job category, the general age limit is between 18 and 65 years old.

          What should I do if my employment visa application is rejected?
          Understanding the reason for rejection is important. You can address any issues and reapply, or in some cases, your employer might need to take additional steps from their end.

          Hi, I’m Omar Al-Harthi