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Reviewed August 2023
Aside from being one of the safest places to live in the world, the UAE is also a destination that provides high-quality living standards and numerous opportunities for students.
Here’s all you need to know if you plan to study in the UAE and want to apply for a student visa.
Table of Contents
What is a UAE student visa?
The UAE is highly sought after for its level of sophistication and exceptional education. Students worldwide fly in to enrol themselves in several prestigious schools and universities, even more so due to the advent of several promising EdTech firms fusing education with technology.
To study in the UAE, you will need a student visa, also known as a student residence visa. It is issued to expatriate students who are over 18 years and residing in the UAE. Student visas in the UAE must be sponsored by a higher education institution or by a local relative.
Aside from student visas, the UAE government has added a studying and training entry permit for people who wish to attend training, internships, and study programmes in the UAE.
The studying and training permit will need to be sponsored by a licensed university, educational or research institutions in the government or private. To obtain it, applicants will need to present a recommendation letter from the entity to verify the details of the courses, training, or internship program, along with its duration.
Do I need a student visa to enter the UAE?
Any foreign national (excluding those from the GCC) who wishes to study in the UAE must obtain a UAE student visa. They must first get accepted into any accredited universities/colleges in the UAE since they handle the visa application process. A student visa can also be secured by a resident sponsoring their child.
Note that expatriate residents can sponsor their male children up to the age of 25, provided they have evidence of attending a higher educational institute for a minimum of one year’s course. Female children can be sponsored by expatriate residents, regardless of age, until they are married.
How long is the validity of the student visa?
Currently, a student visa is usually valid for a duration of one year at a time, and they need to be renewed every year during the course of study. Students are usually advised to renew their student visa one month before the visa expires.
How can the UAE student visa be renewed?
The UAE Student Visa can be renewed by presenting official proof of continuation of a study issued from the relevant educational institutions in the UAE where the student is admitted.
A student residence visa becomes invalid in case a student stays out of the UAE for six months. Students will then not be permitted to enter UAE unless they get their visas cancelled. In such a case, generally, the sponsor will report the visa holder to the immigration authorities.
How do I apply for a UAE student visa?
Depending on your country, you may have to get an entry permit before entering the UAE. Your college or university applies for your UAE student visa at the GDRFA office of the relevant emirate in which you will live.
If your application is approved, the GDRFA will affix a Residence Visa to your passport. You will then receive an Emirates ID, which will be valid for the same duration as the visa. An entry permit can be applied through one of the following portals.
The online channels for applying for entry permits are as follows:
- the eChannels portal: Through the ICA portal, individuals and companies registered in the UAE can apply for a new visa or visa renewal. In order to apply, individuals and companies must first register themselves.
- the website of GDRFA: Visas to the UAE can be applied online through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
GDRFA of Dubai provides another website Amer.ae, through which Dubai nationals and residents can apply for entry permits.
- mobile apps: You can apply for a UAE entry permit and residence visa through the ICP App on Google Play and App Store, or the Dubai Now App on Google Play and App Store.
The offline channels for applying for entry permits are as follows:
- Typing centres: Offline visa applications can be made through licensed typing centres where the visa application is typed and processed through the GDRFA of the respective emirate. Upon approval, the sponsor will receive a message about the approval and the original entry permit.
- Amer centres: Dubai Government stipulates that all entry permit and visa transactions must be carried out through its Amer centres. Locate Amer centres in Dubai.
What are the required documents?
To secure a freshman student visa, the applicant must obtain an official admission letter from the university they are studying at. For older students, a certificate of continuation of study is needed. Other essential requirements include:
- passing a medical fitness test
- a visa sponsor, either the university itself or a parent or relative
- approval of the relevant permit from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
When you apply for a student visa in the UAE, you must fulfil several requirements and have documents supporting your application as mentioned below:
- passport with at least 6 months validity, the passport must have two blank visa pages (one to endorse the visa and one for entry stamps)
- two passport copies.
- a required number of passport-sized photographs.
- the letter of acceptance into the UAE university or college.
- copy of the tuition fee receipt for the current study year of the program.
- proof of financial solvency to cover your tuition fees and living expenses.
- if you have opted for university accommodation, you may be required to produce a letter from the university or a tenancy agreement.
- candidates are also required to go through a medical test at a certified UAE medical centre. The test generally includes a medical test and chest X-ray. (All applicants over 18 years of age have to undergo medical examinations for HIV, TB, Hepatitis B and C, Leprosy, and Syphilis).
- if you are applying for a post-graduate program, you will be required to get your undergraduate degree attested.
Please note that these are just the most commonly required documents. Ultimately, it is your school that provides you with the complete list of all the documents you will need.
International students aged 18 and over can apply for work permits for part-time jobs in the UAE. Therefore, you can apply for internships or jobs to help fund your expenses while studying for a degree in the UAE.
What is the processing time for a UAE student visa application?
After all the correct documents have been submitted, visas generally take 2 to 5 weeks to process. Express visas take 1-3 weeks to process. Whether you have all your documents in order or not also affects the processing time of your application.
What is the fee for the UAE student visa?
The application for the student visa can cost up to AED 3000 (USD 820), and also varies depending upon the university where you have been selected. Additionally, a refundable deposit of AED 1000 (USD 270) is required.
Entry permit for study, training and similar cases
In addition to the student visa program, a new Entry permit for study, training, and similar cases has also been introduced as a part of the UAE’s new visa rules. The entry permit for study and training is primarily intended for those attending training and study courses or participating in internship programs. The sponsor for this type of permit can be universities or educational or research institutions licensed in the country or government or private entities.
The requirements include the following:
- letter of enrolment to study
- copy of the commercial license of the educational facility
- establishment Card of the educational facility
- a letter stating that a student has been provided with private accommodation from the educational facility
- login to the GDRFA website
- register a new user account (in case there is no account)
- select the required service
- attach the required documents
- pay the fees due for the service (A collection commission of AED 20 is added per transaction/Commercial Bank of Dubai and a collection commission is added: AED 50 for companies and AED 15 for individuals/Emaratech Company)
- submit the application
Entry study permit extension
As of now, study permits could be extended for 90 days for AED 610. It is now possible to obtain an entry permission extension online via the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customers, and Ports Security’s (ICP) website or a smart app. Those who meet all requirements and circumstances may be given an extension within 48 hours.
To have your study permit extended, please follow these steps:
- create an online account with ICA.
- select the service for ‘Extending visa.’
- pay the service fees as per the type of visa you have applied for and the duration of its extension.
The new regulations also specified the length of stay for visit entrance permits. The period shall be determined based on the objective of the visitor’s visit and at the discretion of the authority, and it must not exceed one year.
Golden visa for outstanding students
The UAE government provides a Golden Residency Visa with a validity period of 5 or 10 years for students whose achievements are above the average. The visa will be automatically renewed if the same conditions are met.
To apply for this visa, the students must provide the following documents:
High school graduate
- a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Education.
- copy of the sponsored residency (Dubai residents only).
- copy of the sponsored passport.
- attested degree (bachelor’s degree or higher) along with the academic transcript.
- copy of the sponsored residency (Dubai residents only).
- copy of the sponsored passport.
The costs of the visas are as follows:
- 10 years golden visa: AED 3,860 (USD 1050.91)
- 5 years golden visa: AED 2,855 (USD 777.29)
Please note that the costs include residency fees and ID fees.
Only students meeting these criteria are allowed to apply for the visa:
A Highschool student who ranked top in the country (with a minimum grade of 95 per cent in public and private secondary schools) is granted a Golden Visa for (5) years without a sponsor, according to the following:
- submission of a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Education (Emirates Schools Establishment).
- the duration of the Golden Visa for the student is 5 years and may be extended if he is enrolled in one of the majors/colleges in the country that requires a study period of more than five years, such as (the College of Human Medicine).
- conditions for granting a Golden Visa to family members of a Highschool student who ranked top in the country: The parents of the outstanding student and (his sibling’s dependents of his father) are granted a Golden Visa for the same period in the event of their stay in the United Arab Emirate.
A university student is granted a Golden Visa for a period of (10) years without a sponsor, according to the following:
- submission of a recommendation letter from the university or an accredited graduation certificate or an accredited academic record stating that the student’s cumulative GPA is not less than (3.8).
- conditions for granting a Golden Visa to family members of a University Student: The parents of the university student and (his siblings’ dependents of his father) are granted a Golden Visa for the same period in the event of their stay in the United Arab Emirates.
Can I sponsor my parents on a student visa?
Yes, you can. If you have a student visa approved by the appropriate authority, you will be permitted to sponsor your parents as long as you can afford to pay for their housing, daily costs, and health insurance. Alternatively, you can sponsor them on a golden visa for outstanding students provided you meet the aforementioned requirements.