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Updated January 2024

A popular destination among job seekers due to its tax-free income, high salaries, and low cost of living compared to other developed countries, Dubai has a thriving economy with many job opportunities in various fields. Furthermore, to make things easier, the government has established a range of work visas and permits which allow visitors to live and work in the UAE more conveniently.

Here is a detailed guide to all the work visas and permits visitors can take advantage of to live and work in the UAE.

Dubai and UAE work visa and permits latest news

UAE companies applying for work permits are receiving alerts from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) urging them to diversify their workforce by hiring from different nationalities. Compliance involves allocating 20% of the work permit quota to diverse nationalities. Additionally, MOHRE’s classification system demotes establishments from Category 2 to Category 3 if cultural diversity is not prioritized, emphasizing the significance of inclusivity in the corporate landscape.

Dubai and UAE work visa and permits

To facilitate foreign workers, the government of the UAE has established multiple work visas and permits that cater to different types of employment and work arrangements. These visas and permits are designed to simplify the process of living and working in the UAE and ensure that foreign workers are legally employed and protected under the labor laws of the country.

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Applicants looking to work in the UAE on a freelance basis can take advantage of the following Dubai and UAE freelance visas and permits:

Freelance permit

A new freelance permit will be introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to enable people of any skill level to apply for freelance work in the country. After obtaining the permit, the freelancer will have the flexibility to work from any location within the country or anywhere else in the world.

With a view to creating more job opportunities in the country, the UAE has announced that not only UAE nationals but UAE citizens, residents and non-residents too can apply for freelance licenses in the UAE. The permit is expected to be obtainable by the end of the third quarter of this year.

Please note that if you’re resident in Dubai on your spouse’s or parent’s visa, then you’ll only need a freelancer permit to start working. However, if you’re not otherwise resident in the UAE, you’ll have to apply for a freelancer visa, which is a residency permit that allows the individual to live and work in the emirate as a freelancer.

For more information, please visit our dedicated article below.

Freelance Visa Dubai: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Freelancer in Dubai


Green visa for freelancing and self-employment

With the freelancing industry and the concept of flexible work models having considerable growth worldwide, the Green Residence for freelancing and self-employment provides a 5 years residency for freelancers and self-employed individuals without requiring a sponsor or employer in the UAE.

The only requirements include:

  • obtaining a freelance/ self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • a minimum educational qualification with a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma
  • an annual income from self-employment for the previous two years of AED 360,000 (USD 9,800), or
  • the applicant should be able to prove their financial solvency throughout their stay in the country

This visa is renewable for the same term upon its expiry.

The Dubai Talent Pass

The Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (Dafza), Dubai Culture and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) have additionally launched the Dubai Talent Pass, a three-year visa or freelance license, to attract and retain global talent.

The scheme is aimed at the art, media, technology, marketing, culture, education, marketing and consultancy industries in Dubai and is part of the Emirate’s goal to boost its freelance workforce.

Full-time work

Applicants looking to work in the UAE on a full-time basis can take advantage of the following Dubai and UAE work visas and permits:

Dubai work visa or permit

Expatriates who wish to work in the Emirates must apply for a UAE work permit or a work visa to be legally employed in the emirate. A work permit (entry permit) is a document issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship that allows foreigners to enter and work in the UAE legally for a certain period of time.

The Dubai work visa (residence visa) is issued to foreigners once they are already inside the country and have entered using the entry permit. When moving to the UAE, you will ultimately need to get a residence visa, on which your work permit will be listed.

Any foreigner over the age of 18 can choose to work in Dubai and the rest of the UAE, provided they meet the following standards as set up by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Based on their academic qualifications/skill sets, foreign workers are divided into three categories:

  • Category 1: Holding at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Category 2: Holding a post-secondary diploma in any field
  • Category 3: Holding a high school diploma.

For more information, please visit our dedicated article below:

Dubai & UAE Work Visa 2024: How to Apply for a Work Visa to Dubai?


Golden Visa

The Golden Visa is a long-term residency visa that enables foreign talents to live and work or study in the UAE for up to 10 years. This golden residency scheme is renewable and reserved for certain categories, including real estate investors, public investors, startup investors and entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, students, individuals with exceptional talents and more.

The Golden Visa offers a number of benefits to holders, including the ability to live and work in the country, access to top-quality education and healthcare, and the ability to sponsor family members for residence visas. The Golden visa is valid for either 5 or 10 years, after which it can be renewed.

For more information. please visit our dedicated article below.

Golden Visa UAE 2024 – Are You Eligible for the Much-Coveted Residency Visa?


Green visa for skilled employees

The UAE Green visa is essentially a new residency visa category that distinguishes between work and residency permits. The visa is mainly launched to facilitate the expansion of self-residency status for investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified people, top students and graduates who aspire to work and live in the UAE.

The visa allows eligible categories to sponsor themselves without having to first associate themselves with companies based in the UAE. The requirements for skilled employees to get a green visa are:

  • have a valid employment contract
  • be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • hold a minimum of bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • have a salary of not less than AED 15,000 per month.

For more information, please visit our dedicated article below.

UAE Green Visa 2024: What Do We Know About the New UAE Residency Visa Scheme?


Temporary work

Applicants looking to work in the UAE on a temporary basis can take advantage of the following Dubai and UAE temporary work permits:

Entry permit for a temporary work mission

Visitors who have a temporary work assignment like probation testing or a project-based mission and are sponsored by the employer can apply for an entry permit for a temporary work mission. A visitor can apply for this entry permit if he/she is a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident.

Some of the requirements include:

  • a temporary work contract, or
  • a letter from the employer clarifying the visit purpose
  • proof of health and fitness to work.

Temporary work permit

The temporary work permit is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). Under this, an employee is employed in the UAE to complete a particular task within a specified period of time in an establishment registered with the Ministry.

Some of the requirements include:

  • clear coloured photo with a white background
  • passport copy with a validity period of at least six months.
  • the official job offer form issued by the Ministry, signed by both the employer and employee.
  • academic certificates:
    • a clear certificate bearing the name of the employee. Please note that there is no requirement for a certificate for skill levels 6 to 9:
      • for skill levels 1 and 2, a Bachelor’s Degree or higher is required.
      • for skill levels 3 and 4, a Diploma graduate or higher is required.
      • for skill level 5, a High School Certificate is required.
      • workers who earn less than AED 4000 per month or who do not possess a degree are not considered skilled.
  • a professional license issued by a competent authority, for instance, a doctor, nurse, etc.
  • the electronic form of the temporary work permit must be approved by the current employer.
  • an official document issued by the court declaring that a labour case exists (for employees who have pending labour cases).

Please note that the temporary work permit can only be applied by the employer of the establishment registered with the Ministry through the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Job seeker visa

The job seeker visa is mainly introduced as a means to attract young talents and skilled professionals to explore job opportunities available in the country. A foreigner is granted a job seeker visit visa to search for new job opportunities without requiring a host/sponsor within the country for one trip. You can apply for a job-seeker visa with a validity of either 60, 90 or 120 days. The visa will be granted if the applicant meets the following requirements:

  • is classified in the first, second, or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • is a fresh graduate from one of the best 500 universities in the world
  • has a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
  • fulfils the prescribed financial guarantee

For more information, please visit our dedicated article below.

Dubai & UAE Job Seeker Visa: Everything You Need to Know About the UAE’s Job Exploration Visa


Remote work visa

The UAE remote work visa, or the 1-year visa, allows holders to relocate to Dubai from outside the UAE and legally work for their current company or organization remotely.  Any eligible foreign national who is able to do their work remotely is welcome to apply for the remote work visa.

The remote work visa is specifically designed to facilitate remote workers, entrepreneurs, as well as other location-independent individuals with the inclination to live and work in UAE. 

To apply for a remote work visa, you must provide proof:

  • that you work remotely for an organisation outside the UAE
  • that you receive a monthly income of USD 3,500 (three thousand five hundred US dollars, or its equivalent in a different currency).

Some of the requirements include:

  • a passport with a validity period of at least six 6 months
  • a health insurance policy valid in the UAE

Dubai virtual working program

Dubai permits to live in the emirate under the virtual working program similar to the remote work visa. Through this visa, you can reside legally in Dubai while working remotely for any company in the world. The program, valid for one year, is for:

  • people who live and work outside the UAE,
  • entrepreneurs and
  • start-up companies who meet the eligibility criteria.

If your application to live in Dubai is approved by the UAE’s authorities, you can also bring your family along.

Employees are required to provide the following:

  • proof of employment from their current employer with a one-year contract
  • a minimum of USD 5,000 per month salary 
  • the latest payslip along with a bank statement for the preceding three months

Business owners are required to provide the following: 

  • proof of ownership of the company for one year or more 
  • an average monthly income of USD 5,000 
  • a bank statement detailing the income of the preceding three

For more information, please visit our dedicated article below.

UAE Remote Work Visa: How and Where to Apply For UAE’s Coveted Remote Work Visa?


Other work permits

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issues twelve types of work permits that allow establishments registered with MoHRE to recruit employees, depending on the nature of the job. The types of permits include:

  • a work permit to recruit a worker from outside the UAE
  • a work permit to transfer a foreign worker from one establishment to another
  • a work permit for a resident on a family sponsorship
  • a one-mission work permit to recruit a worker from abroad to complete a temporary job or a particular project for a specific period
  • a part-time work permit to recruit a worker under a part-time contract where his working hours or days are less than his full-time contract
  • a juvenile permit to recruit a juvenile between 15 and 18 years
  • a student training and employment permit to employ a 15-year-old student who is already in the UAE
  • UAE/GCC national permit to employ a UAE or a GCC national
  • a Golden visa holder permit to employ a worker holding the UAE’s Golden Residence visa
  • national trainee permit to train a UAE national
  • a freelance permit issued to self-sponsored foreigners in the UAE who provide services or perform tasks to individuals or companies (without being sponsored by a specific employer in the UAE and without having an employment contract).

Please note that to apply for these work permits, the establishment must:

  • have a valid trade license and
  • the application must be filed by the authorised signatory of the establishment.

Mission visa

The UAE mission visa allows individuals to enter the country for temporary work. Sponsored by a UAE-based employer, applicants must meet requirements such as providing necessary documents. The employer’s PRO initiates the application process, with associated fees involved. This is a single-entry visa valid for 90 days.

Dubai & UAE Mission Visa 2023: How to Obtain Your Short-Term Project Visa in the UAE

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