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Moving to the UAE?

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Peter B. Krehmer

Living in UAE, from Switzerland

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

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Living in UAE, from Great Britain

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The UAE at a Glance

Visas and Residence Permits for the UAE

The opportunity of settling down in the UAE is certainly an exciting prospect for most expats. However, moving to the UAE might also seem like a leap into the unknown. Let us help! Our Guide gives you info prior to your move, from facts on the Emirates to detailed visa requirements.

Business Visas

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 Center 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.

As of August 2014, the price for an employment visa for individuals working in the private sector, free trade zones, or for investors is 250 AED. For domestic workers sponsored by Emiratis or GCC citizens, the cost is 150 AED. A multiple entry visa for work costs 2,100 AED.

Residence Permits

All expats living in the UAE, including expat spouses and children, must apply for a residence permit following their 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 are an expat who wishes to sponsor your family, you must be earning at least 3,000 AED per month with accommodation paid by a sponsor, or you must be earning 4,000 AED monthly. 

Political Situation

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.

In March 2011, the UAE joined international military operations in Libya. In November 2012, the UAE outlawed attempts to organize public protests through social media and mocking of the government online. From March 2012, it detained at least 60 activists without charge.

However, as a member of the UN and the World Trade Organization, the UAE has evolved into a progressive country. Upon their move to the UAE, expats will discover an excellent infrastructure and high living standards.

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 84% of UAE residents are foreign-born.


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InterNations Expat Magazine