Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a popular destination for expats seeking employment opportunities in the Middle East. However, before starting work in Abu Dhabi, expats must obtain the necessary work permits and visas to work and reside in the country legally.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issues 12 types of work permits, depending on the nature of the job. If employed in the private or government sector or a free zone, expats can apply for a regular employment visa, usually for two years. To obtain a residency visa and work permit, most expats secure employment before arriving in the UAE and then apply for an entry permit, also called a pink card.
Securing the necessary work permits and visas can be complex, but it is essential for expats who wish to work in Abu Dhabi. This article will provide an overview of the different types of work permits and visas available in Abu Dhabi, the application process, and the requirements expats must meet to obtain them. By the end of this article, readers will have a clearer understanding of the steps required to work and reside in Abu Dhabi legally.
Understanding Work Permits and Visas in Abu Dhabi
If you are a foreigner planning to work in Abu Dhabi, you must obtain a work permit and residency visa to work and live legally in the UAE. The employer must obtain the necessary work and residency permits for you to work in Abu Dhabi legally. Working without the proper visa status is illegal and can have severe consequences.
Types of Work Permits
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issues 12 types of work permits that allow establishments registered with MoHRE to recruit employees, depending on the nature of the job. Some of the commonly issued work permits include:
- Temporary Work Permit: Allows employers to hire employees on a project basis or for work that lasts for a fixed period.
- One-Mission Permit: Enables companies to hire employees for a specific project or mission.
- Part-Time Work Permit: Allows employees to work part-time in addition to their full-time job.
- Freelance Work Permit: Enables individuals to work as freelancers in Abu Dhabi.
Work Visa and Residency Visa
Once you have obtained a work permit, you can apply for a work visa, also known as an entry permit. The work visa allows you to enter Abu Dhabi legally and start working. The employer must apply for the work visa on your behalf.
After entering Abu Dhabi, you must apply for a residency visa valid for three years. The residency visa allows you to live and work in Abu Dhabi legally. Before applying for a residency visa, you must undergo a medical examination and obtain an Emirates ID card.
Emirati nationals do not require a work permit to work in Abu Dhabi. They can work in any sector without the need for a work permit.
A work permit and residency visa are essential to work and live legally in Abu Dhabi. Ensure you have the necessary permits and visas before starting work to avoid legal issues.
The Role of Sponsors and Employers
In Abu Dhabi, sponsors and employers are crucial in the work permit and visa application process. A sponsor is an individual or entity that sponsors a foreign worker’s visa application. An employer is a company or organization that hires foreign workers and provides them with an employment contract.
A foreign worker must have a sponsor to apply for a work permit in Abu Dhabi. The sponsor can be a company, an individual, or the government. The sponsor is responsible for submitting the work permit application on behalf of the foreign worker. The sponsor must also provide certain documents, such as a valid trade license, to support the application.
Once the work permit is approved, the employer can apply for the foreign worker’s employment visa. The employer must provide a valid employment contract that meets the requirements set by the Abu Dhabi government. The contract must include the worker’s job title, salary, and benefits.
It is important to note that the sponsor and employer have specific responsibilities towards the foreign worker. The sponsor must ensure that the worker’s visa is renewed on time and that they do not overstay it. The employer must provide a safe working environment and adhere to the labour laws and regulations set by the Abu Dhabi government.
In summary, sponsors and employers play a crucial role in the work permit and visa application process in Abu Dhabi. They must ensure all requirements are met and the foreign worker’s rights are protected.
The Process of Obtaining a Work Permit
To legally work in Abu Dhabi, expats must obtain a residence visa sponsorship for employment. This requires getting a work permit, also known as a labour card, from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
The process for obtaining a work permit involves several steps, including:
- Obtaining an Employment Entry Visa: To enter the UAE for employment purposes, expats must first get an Employment Entry Visa. This requires the sponsorship of an employer who is registered with MOHRE. The visa application must be submitted to the UAE embassy in the expat’s home country.
- Medical Screening: All foreigners seeking employment in the UAE must undergo medical screening to ensure they are free from infectious diseases like HIV and TB. The screening must be done at an approved medical centre.
- Emirates ID Card: Once the Employment Entry Visa is issued, the expat must apply for an Emirates ID card, a mandatory identification card for all residents in the UAE. The card can be obtained from the Emirates Identity Authority.
- Work Permit Application: With the Employment Entry Visa and Emirates ID card, the expat can apply for a work permit from MOHRE. The employer must apply and provide a copy of their commercial license and company card.
- Visa Quota Approval: MOHRE will review the work permit application and issue a visa quota approval, which specifies the number of visas that can be issued to the employer.
- Work Permit Issuance: Once the visa quota approval is obtained, MOHRE will issue the work permit, valid for three years. The expat can then legally work in Abu Dhabi.
It is important to note that the process for obtaining a work permit can vary depending on the nature of the job and the employer. It is recommended that expats consult with their employer and MOHRE for specific requirements and procedures.
Understanding Residency Visas
You will need a residency visa to work in Abu Dhabi. A residency visa is a document that allows you to stay and work in the UAE for a certain period of time.
To obtain a residency visa, you must first have an entry permit. This can be obtained through your employer or sponsor. Once you have entered the UAE with an entry permit, you can apply for a residency visa.
Several types of residency visas are available, including standard work visas, green visas, and domestic worker visas. The standard work visa is issued for employees in government and private sectors. The green visa is issued for skilled employees for five years. The last type of visa is issued for domestic workers, such as housemaids and drivers.
To apply for a residency visa, you must meet specific visa requirements, such as having a valid passport, a medical fitness certificate, and a police clearance certificate. You must also have a sponsor, such as an employer or family member, who will be responsible for you during your stay in the UAE.
You can apply for an extension to extend your residency visa. The extension length will depend on your visa type and your sponsor.
In addition to the above, long-term residency visas are available for five or ten years, subject to certain conditions. These include business, golden, property owner, retirement, remote work, and student residence visas.
It is important to note that residency visas must be renewed before they expire. Failure to do so can result in fines or even deportation.
Obtaining a residency visa is essential for anyone planning to work in Abu Dhabi. By understanding the visa requirements and application process, you can ensure a smooth and successful transition to your new job in the UAE.
Financial Considerations and Obligations
When it comes to working in Abu Dhabi, there are several financial considerations and obligations that you need to be aware of. This section will cover some of the most important ones, including salary, fines, bank accounts, financial solvency, and the cost of work permits.
One of the most important financial considerations for anyone working in Abu Dhabi is their salary. The UAE Labour Law sets out minimum wage requirements for different industries, and it’s essential to ensure that your employer is paying you at least this amount.
If you’re unsure what the minimum wage is for your industry, you can check with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).
It’s essential to be aware that there are fines for certain offences in Abu Dhabi, including traffic violations, smoking in prohibited areas, and littering. If you’re caught committing any of these offences, you may be fined, and these fines can be substantial. It’s essential to be aware of the rules and regulations in Abu Dhabi and to follow them to avoid any penalties.
You must open a bank account when you start working in Abu Dhabi. This is important for receiving your salary and for managing your finances while you’re in the UAE. Several banks in Abu Dhabi offer accounts for expats, and it’s worth shopping around to find the best deal.
When applying for a work permit in Abu Dhabi, you may be asked to provide evidence of your financial solvency. This means you must show enough money to support yourself while living and working in the UAE. The specific requirements for financial solvency will depend on your circumstances, and the type of work permit you’re applying for.
Cost of Work Permits
Finally, knowing the cost of work permits in Abu Dhabi is essential. The exact cost will depend on the work permit you’re applying for and your circumstances. However, it’s necessary to budget for this expense, as it can be substantial. Your employer may be able to help you with the cost of your work permit, but it’s important to check this before you start working in Abu Dhabi.
Working in the Private Sector and Free Zones
When working in Abu Dhabi, it is essential to understand the regulations and laws surrounding employment in the private sector and free zones. The UAE Labour Law governs the labour rights of employees in the private sector, and it applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. It is illegal for a person to work in the UAE without a valid work permit issued according to the procedures set out by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).
Freelancers and self-employed individuals can apply for a Green visa, which allows them to work in the UAE. To apply for a Green visa, they must submit a freelance/self-employment permit from MoHRE. This visa is also available for skilled employees who wish to work in the UAE.
Working in free zones is generally not governed by the UAE Labour Law. Each free zone authority has its employment law, and employees are subject to the rules and regulations of their respective free zone authority. Employees are under a contract with the respective free zone authority. The laws applicable to free zone employees may differ from those applicable to employees in the private sector.
It is important to note that working in the private sector and free zones may have different requirements and regulations. It is recommended to consult with the relevant authorities and seek legal advice before accepting job offers or signing employment contracts.
Special Visa Categories
Abu Dhabi offers a range of special visa categories for individuals who fulfil specific criteria. These visa categories are designed to attract investors, entrepreneurs, inventors, investment fund managers, and specialized talents to the Emirate.
The Golden Visa is a long-term residence visa granted to investors, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals who meet specific criteria. The visa is valid for up to 10 years and can be renewed. To be eligible for the Golden Visa, applicants must meet specific requirements, such as investing in a property worth at least AED 5 million or having a net worth of at least AED 10 million.
Property Owner Visa
The Property Owner Visa is a long-term residence visa granted to individuals who own property in Abu Dhabi. The visa is valid for up to 5 or 10 years, depending on the property’s value. To be eligible for the Property Owner Visa, applicants must own a property worth AED 2 million.
The Entrepreneur Visa is a residence visa granted to individuals wishing to start a business in Abu Dhabi. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. To be eligible for the Entrepreneur Visa, applicants must have a viable business plan and meet specific financial requirements.
Specialized Talents Visa
The Specialized Talents Visa is a residence visa granted to individuals with specialized skills and talents in demand in Abu Dhabi. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. To be eligible for the Specialized Talents Visa, applicants must have a job offer from a company in Abu Dhabi and meet specific qualification requirements.
The Inventor Visa is a residence visa granted to individuals who have invented a product or technology of significant value to Abu Dhabi. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. To be eligible for the Inventor Visa, applicants must have a patent for their invention and meet specific criteria.
Investment Fund Manager Visa
The Investment Fund Manager Visa is a residence visa granted to individuals who manage investment funds in Abu Dhabi. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be renewed. To be eligible for the Investment Fund Manager Visa, applicants must have a job offer from a company that manages investment funds in Abu Dhabi and meet specific qualification requirements.
Family Visas and Requirements
If you plan to work in Abu Dhabi and want to bring your family members with you, you must apply for a family visa. The UAE government allows immediate family members, including spouses, children, and parents, to join the visa holder in the country.
The primary visa holder must have a valid residency permit and meet the minimum salary requirements to apply for a family visa. The salary requirements vary depending on the visa type and the number of family members you want to bring.
In addition to meeting the salary requirements, you will also need to provide the following documents to apply for a family visa:
- Passport copies of the family members
- Sponsor’s residency permit copy
- Marriage certificate (for spouse)
- Birth certificates (for children)
- Tenancy contract or proof of accommodation
Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can apply for a family visa at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Abu Dhabi. The application process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of visa and the number of family members you are applying for.
If your family members are planning to visit you in Abu Dhabi for a short period of time, they can apply for a tourist visa. The UAE government offers different types of tourist visas, including 14-day, 30-day, and 90-day visas. To apply for a tourist visa, your family must provide their passport copies, a confirmed return ticket, and proof of accommodation in Abu Dhabi.
In summary, if you plan to work in Abu Dhabi and want to bring your family members with you, you must apply for a family visa. The application process can be lengthy, but with the right documents and meeting the salary requirements, you can successfully bring your loved ones to Abu Dhabi. Alternatively, if your family members are planning to visit you for a short period of time, they can apply for a tourist visa.
Legalities and Penalties
In the United Arab Emirates, it is illegal for a person to work without a valid work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), as per the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector. Violators of this law may face legal penalties, including fines, imprisonment, and deportation.
It is essential to note that working under a visit or tourist visa is strictly prohibited and may result in legal liability. Therefore, obtaining the appropriate work permit before starting employment in the UAE is crucial.
For legal issues, contacting the relevant authorities, such as the consulate or missions of your home country in the UAE, is advisable. They can provide legal assistance and support in case of deportation or other legal consequences.
It is also important to note that the UAE has strict laws and regulations regarding labour relations, and it is crucial to abide by them to avoid any legal issues. Employers and employees must know their rights and responsibilities to ensure a smooth, legal working relationship.
In summary, obtaining a valid work permit is essential for anyone seeking employment in the UAE. Working without a permit may result in severe legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and deportation. It is advisable to contact the relevant authorities in case of legal issues and abide by the UAE’s labour laws and regulations to avoid legal problems.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs
When obtaining a work permit and residency visa in Abu Dhabi, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) plays a crucial role. The GDRFA is responsible for providing all services related to the services of citizens, residents, and violators. It has a five-star rating in the global star system for rating services by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The GDRFA has branches in different emirates of the UAE, including Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, and Sharjah. It is essential to check the GDRFA website to determine which branch is responsible for your visa application, depending on your location.
To be eligible for a work permit and residency visa in Abu Dhabi, you must have a valid passport with a photocopy. All documents must be in Arabic or translated into Arabic by an authorized translation office.
The first step in obtaining a residency visa is a pink visa, also known as an entry permit. This can be sponsored in various ways, such as by a hotel, resident family member, or employer. Once you arrive in Abu Dhabi, you can apply for a residency visa and work permit.
The GDRFA works closely with other government entities, such as the Ministry of Labour and the Emirates Identity Authority, to ensure a smooth and efficient visa application process. It is crucial to follow all the guidelines and requirements the GDRFA sets to avoid delays or rejections in your visa application.
The GDRFA is crucial for obtaining a work permit and residency visa in Abu Dhabi. It is essential to check the GDRFA website to determine which branch is responsible for your visa application and to follow all the guidelines and requirements set by the GDRFA to ensure a smooth and efficient visa application process.
Living and Working as an Expat in the UAE
Working as an expat in the UAE can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it’s essential to understand the requirements and regulations surrounding work permits and visas.
To legally work in Abu Dhabi, expats must obtain a residence visa sponsorship for employment. This requires an employer to sponsor them by offering a job contract and applying for the visa with the appropriate authorities.
Once an expat has obtained a work permit, they must also obtain a labour card. This card is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and is mandatory for all employees in the UAE. The labour card is proof of residency and employment and must be renewed annually.
Working days in the UAE are fixed at a maximum of eight hours, and the UAE Labour Laws are strict. Expats can expect around 22 to 30 days of holiday per year. While there are tax advantages to living in the UAE, it’s important to note that Abu Dhabi is not the cheapest place to live.
Expats working in the UAE can also benefit from pension schemes for expatriate workers in both private and government sectors. Expats must prepare to work in the UAE by researching the culture and customs and obtaining the necessary documentation and permits.
Living and working as an expat in the UAE can be a fulfilling experience. However, it’s essential to follow the regulations and requirements for work permits and visas and understand the UAE’s culture and customs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Related questions people ask for.
What are the types of work visas available in Abu Dhabi?
Several types of work visas are available in Abu Dhabi, including employment visas, investor visas, and partner visas. The specific type of visa required will depend on the individual’s situation and the nature of their work.
What is the process for obtaining a work permit in Abu Dhabi?
To obtain a work permit in Abu Dhabi, individuals must first secure a job offer from a company registered in the UAE. The employer will then apply for the necessary permits and visas on behalf of the employee. The process typically involves submitting various documents, including a passport copy, educational certificates, and a medical certificate.
How much does a 2-year work visa cost in Abu Dhabi?
The cost of a 2-year work visa in Abu Dhabi varies depending on various factors, including the individual’s nationality and the type of visa required—generally, the cost ranges from AED 2,000 to AED 5,000.
What are the requirements for obtaining an Abu Dhabi work visa?
The requirements for obtaining an Abu Dhabi work visa include a valid passport, educational certificates, a medical certificate, and a job offer from a company registered in the UAE. Individuals may also be required to undergo a security clearance process.
What is the processing time for an Abu Dhabi residence visa?
The processing time for an Abu Dhabi residence visa can vary depending on various factors, including the individual’s nationality and the type of visa required. Generally, the process takes between 10 and 14 working days.
Is Abu Dhabi currently issuing work visas?
Yes, Abu Dhabi is currently issuing work visas. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there may be delays or restrictions. It is recommended that individuals consult with their employer or a qualified immigration professional for the latest information on visa issuance.