The UAE at a Glance
Visas and Residence Permits for the UAE
In order to apply for a business visa, expats need a sponsor (an employer or UAE resident) to arrange the application for them. All visa applications should be addressed to the nearest embassy of the UAE in your country of residence. They must include a comprehensive letter from your sponsor and an application form, which can be downloaded from the Travel Centre on the UAE Interact website.
In many cases, embassies of the UAE also request financial statements to make sure that the applicant is in good standing. Applicants may also be required to produce a letter from their employer, explaining the purpose of their work in the UAE. To find out more about the exact visa requirements, consult the nearest embassy of the UAE in your country of residence prior to applying.
An exception to this rule is the multiple-entry visa for people who have a business relationship with companies in the UAE and enter the country frequently to attend meetings. Multiple-entry visas are generally valid for 6 months and have to be applied for while in the UAE.
All expats living in the UAE, including expat spouses and children, must apply for a residence permit within 30 days of arrival. This residence permit is valid for 3 years and allows expats to register with the local Emirates National Identity Authority.
All UAE residents who are 15 years or older receive a National Identification Card (NIC) upon registering with the local authorities. This card contains personal information of the card-holder, such as date of birth, gender, nationality, signature, and blood type. It replaces national health cards, labor cards or passports and can be used for identification purposes.
If you live in Dubai and want to act as sponsor for your family, please remember that you can only do so if you produce a rental contract with your own name on it. That way, the government tries to ensure that you will be able to offer your family suitable accommodation. Keep in mind that your application will also be taken into account if your rental contract is from a different emirate.
As far as the political system is concerned, the UAE is a country without political parties or democratic elections. However, the political face of the nation has begun to change: The UAE has held its first ever limited elections in 2006 to select members of the Federal Supreme Council. The second elections in 2011 gave 130.000 citizens (up from 7.000 in the first election) the possibility of voting.
As a member of the UN and the World Trade Organization, the UAE has evolved into a progressive country during the last 20 years. Upon their move to the UAE, expats will not only discover an excellent infrastructure and high living standards. Furthermore, those moving to the UAE will find a mostly peaceful and safe country.
Arabic is the official language in all seven emirates. Due to the many foreigners who move to the UAE each year, English is often spoken in business meetings, as well as Farsi, Urdu and other languages. A staggering 80% of UAE residents are foreign-born.