About United Arab Emirates
Whether your company is sending employees to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or expanding your worldwide footprint—Fragomen is here to help. Our experienced immigration professionals partner with businesses of all sizes to develop immigration strategies that can help you achieve your goals.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) immigration system has historically been based on the concept of sponsorship with the majority of travel and work authorizations requiring a sponsor, typically an employer. However, in recent years, this has changed with the introduction of self-sponsored visa categories which resulted in increased flexibility for foreign nationals to enter the country for work, residency, and other purposes. These reforms are ongoing, and as a result, the UAE government recently adopted a set of new immigration regulations supplementing the existing Law on Entry and Residency of Foreigners. Although these regulations came into force on September 5, 2022, not all of the provisions have been implemented in practice yet; it is anticipated that this situation will continue throughout 2023.
- The UAE is a federation of seven emirates. Each emirate follows federal laws but also constitutes its emirate-specific legislation. The main structure of the immigration process, including eligibility conditions for visas and permits, is the same across all the emirates although minor differences in documentary requirements are quite common. Additionally, various free trade zones (free zones) have been established across the country to offer flexible business regulations and streamlined immigration processes (i.e., without the involvement of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization). While the majority of free zones abide by the federal immigration and employment laws, the Dubai International Financial Centre free zone (DIFC), and the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone (ADGM) follow their own employment laws (this moderately impacts hiring and employment processes).
- The UAE provides short- and long-term visa options for foreign nationals; the availability of the visa option depends on multiple factors, including the foreign national's desired duration of stay and the activities they intend to carry out. Some nationalities are either visa exempt or can obtain a visit visa on arrival.
- There are eight visit visa categories (this includes: visa for tourism, visa for exploring business opportunities, and visa for medical treatment), four categories of temporary and emergency visas (this includes visa for transit and visa for cabin crews), seven visa categories for residency without work for a UAE employer (this includes: visa for study, visa for remote work, and visa for property owner), and two visa categories for residency with work (this includes: standard visa for contractual employment, and Green Visa). Although issued for the purpose of visit, the entry visa for residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States and their escorts is a standalone visa category as per the new regulations. A Golden Visa which offers long-term residency to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talent, scientists and specialists, outstanding students and top university graduates, humanitarian work pioneers, and frontline heroes, is another standalone visa category.
- Visas that are used for business purposes are either for single- or multiple-entry. The maximum allowable duration of stay as a visitor is 12 months, depending on the entry policy (a visa category) applicable to the visitor (typically up to 30, 60, or 90 days). In-country extension of stay is permissible for select categories of entries. Visitors may sometimes change their immigration status in-country.
- The main work authorization category in all jurisdictions is a standard visa for contractual employment also referred to as an Employment Residence Permit which consists of a residence permit and a work authorization (both components require a sponsor, i.e.: an employer). Individuals holding a self-sponsored Green Visa or Golden Visa must obtain work authorization (needs a sponsor, i.e., employer) to carry out work activities for an employer.
- The visit visa for a work assignment (previously referred to as Mission Work Permit or Mission Visa) is an option for those seeking short-term work authorization. Although previously available only to applicants in the mainland, the latest immigration regulations stipulate that the visa is also available in the free zones (as of January 2023, this visa is not available in the free zones).
- There is a remote work visa which is also referred to in the Emirate of Dubai as the Virtual Work Program.
Fragomen can also consult on citizenship matters and, as permitted within the confines of local law, may be able to offer citizenship assistance.
Fragomen in the UAE is Fragomen UAE Ltd. in Dubai International Finance Centre and Fragomen FZ-LLC in Dubai Development Authority. Both entities operate as immigration consultancies. Fragomen UAE Ltd, whose registered office in the United Arab Emirates is located at Unit 101, Level 1, Liberty House, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, PO Box 506626, is a private company limited by shares registered under licence number CL0688.
Fragomen FZ-LLC, whose registered office in the United Arab Emirates is located at G01, Building EIB 04, Dubai Outsource City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is a free zone limited liability company registered under licence number 16026.
Fragomen FZ LLC - Abu Dhabi, whose registered office in the United Arab Emirates is located at Level 17, Office Suites 38-40, The Offices World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, PO Box 30275 , is a foreign branch of a free zone limited liability company, registered under licence number CN-2545638.
Business Visa Services and Technology
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Personalized support to help ease the burden of complex immigration consular processing.
Corporate Immigration Program Development
World-class corporate immigration services to help you optimize your immigration operations.
Proactive planning and on-the-ground support to streamline the immigration document process.
Employment Verification Services
Modern, streamlined employment verification solutions to increase your compliance and minimize your exposure to risk.
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Robust resources to help you understand immigration in a changing world.
Immigration Compliance Services
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Immigration Enforcement Defense Services
Enforcement defense and internal investigations assistance to help defend your business against immigration noncompliance.
Immigration Litigation Services
Experienced, skilled immigration litigation to help you resolve complex situations.
Immigration Technology Solutions
Pragmatic, leading-edge technology solutions that support our clients’ immigration experiences.
Unmatched training means better immigration experiences for your employees.
Immigration Work Permit Services
Comprehensive, end-to-end immigration services and technology to help streamline business immigration.
Private Client Services
Sound, holistic alternative residency and citizenship solutions to help you seize your opportunities.
Strategic support to help remobilize quickly and prepare for the future of work.
A wealth of complimentary benefits to enrich your immigration experience.
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