Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered why people move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to work? Well, to start, employees don’t pay taxes there. You heard that right - the UAE doesn’t require you to pay taxes on your income.

The UAE is also home to bustling cities like Dubai, which is quickly becoming a remote work hotspot. In fact, it earned 2nd place in the 2021 Nomad List and was dubbed the second-best city for remote work out of 75 cities worldwide. 

Dubai's also a hit with expats. Ranked 5th among the best expat cities in 2020 by 127,000 readers. 

So, suppose you’re interested in joining the ranks and settling down in the United Arab Emirates. In that case, you need to understand how to navigate securing a UAE work permit. 

How to Work in the UAE

Securing work permits and work visas is a critical step for individuals aiming to work and live in the UAE.

Work Permits

Work permits are like your official entry ticket to work legally in the UAE. There is more than one type of UAE work visa. If you'd like to secure a Dubai work visa, you need to know how to apply, renew, or cancel a Dubai employment visa. So, let's take a look at how a Dubai visa works. 

Types of Work Permits

There are 12 types of work permits issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to fit various work situations. They cover everything from hiring foreign workers to temporary projects and even freelancing. No matter your job setup, there's an entry permit visa that suits your needs.

How to Apply

Getting an employment entry visa is a must and follows the UAE's Labour Law. To apply, your employer needs a valid trade license, and they'll submit the application. MoHRE checks that the rules are followed and the documents are accurate. If everything's in order, you're on your way to a legal work journey. Typically, you'll need to visit your local UAE embassy and present your valid passport to apply.

If you're working in one of the UAE's 46 free zones, your employer must request a UAE free zone visa for you a. However, getting this visa requires visa quota approval for a specific number of visas from the Ministry of Labor. Keep in mind that the number of work visas available can vary depending on the specific free zone you're in.

Cancelling a Permit

When you’ve reached the end of a job, your work permit can be cancelled. But there's a catch — your employer must ensure you've received all your dues. Your signature on the permit cancellation form proves you've been treated fairly.

Cost of Work Permits

Work permits come with a price tag ranging from AED 250 to AED 3,450. The cost depends on how well your company follows the rules (A, B, or C category). It's a way to encourage businesses to play fair and follow the law.

Suspension for Violations

Sometimes, firms can lose the privilege of getting new work permits to hire in the UAE. This happens if they break the rules. Violations include not providing proper worker accommodations or being involved in human trafficking. 

Understanding work permits is important for both employers and workers in the UAE. It's all about playing by the rules, ensuring workers are treated right, and having a fair job market. 

So, if you're thinking about working in the UAE, understanding work permits is an excellent start on your journey.

Work Visas

Now, let’s get into the types of work visas you can apply for. Whether you're a job seeker or planning to work, the options are tailored to fit different situations. 

Let's break down the types of work visas and what it takes to be eligible for each one.

Standard Work Visa

If you plan to work in the UAE's private or government sectors, the standard work visa is the route to consider. Typically valid for two years, this visa authorizes foreign nationals to work in the UAE. To apply for this visa, your employer will initiate the process on your behalf.

Green Visa for Work

The UAE introduced an option known as the Green visa, reshaping the way individuals secure a residency visa in the country. This visa allows individuals to sponsor themselves for up to five years, eliminating the traditional requirement for UAE nationals or employers to sponsor their visa. 

The Green visa is available in three categories.

Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals

For freelancers or self-employed, the Green visa opens up opportunities. To be eligible, you must obtain a freelance/self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. 

You should also hold a bachelor's degree or a specialized diploma and showcase an annual self-employment income for the past two years, totaling at least AED 360,000, or USD 98,009.86. Alternatively, you can provide evidence of financial stability during your stay in the UAE.

Skilled Employees

Skilled employees can also opt for the Green visa by meeting specific criteria. This includes having a valid employment contract, being categorized in the first, second, or third occupational level according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, possessing a minimum of a bachelor's degree or equivalent, and earning a monthly salary of no less than AED 15,000.

Renewal: The Green visa is renewable, allowing you to extend its validity for an additional term once it nears expiration.

Domestic Worker's Visa

Designed for domestic helpers such as housemaids, nannies, and drivers, the domestic worker's visa enables them to reside and work in the UAE under the sponsorship of their employers.

The Golden Visa

The UAE's Golden Visa offers foreign talent the chance for long-term residence in the country along with access to exclusive benefits. It accommodates a hodgepodge of individuals, including investors, entrepreneurs, and scientists. The list doesn’t stop there — it’s also tailored towards exceptional students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers, and frontline workers.  

Here's a closer look at the Golden Visa, its requirements, and the unique advantages it brings. 

What is the UAE Golden Visa?

The UAE's Golden visa is a coveted long-term residence visa that welcomes foreign talents to live, work, or study in the country. What sets this visa apart is its bundle of exclusive benefits, providing recipients with a distinctive experience in the UAE. 

Six-Month Entry Visa: The journey begins with an entry visa that grants a six-month stay in the UAE, allowing individuals to initiate the process of obtaining their long-term residence visa.

Long-Term Residence Visa: After the initial entry period, successful applicants are rewarded with a long-term, renewable residence visa, which is available for a duration of 5 or 10 years. This extended validity ensures a stable and secure stay in the UAE.

Sponsorship Autonomy: One of the standout features of the Golden visa is that recipients are not required to have a sponsor. This empowers individuals to have greater control over their residency.

Extended Stay Abroad: Golden visa holders can enjoy the flexibility of staying outside the UAE for periods longer than the typical six months while maintaining their residence visa's validity.

Family Sponsorship: Golden visa holders can sponsor their family members, including spouses and children, regardless of age. This promotes unity and togetherness for families residing in the UAE.

Domestic Helper Sponsorship: For those who require domestic assistance, the Golden visa allows an unlimited number of domestic helpers to be sponsored, enhancing convenience and support for the visa holder.

Continuity of Benefits: In the unfortunate event of the primary holder of the Golden visa passing away, family members' permits remain valid until their designated permit duration ends.

As the UAE consistently aims to offer innovative and progressive opportunities, the Golden Visa program stands as a testament to the nation's commitment to attracting diverse talents and fostering a vibrant and inclusive community.


The Golden Visa has specific requirements based on different residence categories, such as investors, entrepreneurs, outstanding talents, students, and pioneers of humanitarian work. 

Here's a breakdown of the requirements for each category.

Public Investors

  • Invest in an accredited UAE investment fund with a deposit of AED two million or more.
  • Submit a letter from the investment fund confirming the deposit.
  • Provide proof of annual payment of at least AED 250,000 to the government.

Real Estate Investors

  • Own one or more properties with a total value of at least two million dirhams.
  • Purchase property using a loan from approved local banks.


  • Own a technical or innovative economic project.
  • Receive approval from authorities confirming the project's nature.
  • Present a letter from an accredited business incubator in the UAE.

Specialised Talents

  • Categories include doctors, scientists, artists, inventors, executives, and specialists in scientific fields
  • Requirements vary for each category, such as obtaining approval letters, recommendation letters, or meeting specific criteria

Outstanding Students

  • High school students with a minimum grade of 95% may apply for a 5-year Golden visa with a recommendation letter.
  • University students from A or B-class universities can apply for a 10-year Golden visa with a minimum GPA.
  • Outstanding students from the top 100 global universities can also apply for a 10-year Golden visa.

Pioneers of Humanitarian Work

  • Individuals who have worked for international organizations or civil associations, or received awards for humanitarian efforts.
  • Funders of humanitarian work with a support value of not less than two million UAE dirhams.

Frontline Heroes

  • Frontline workers who have shown extraordinary efforts during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Approval from the Frontline Heroes Office is required.

Moreover, the 'One Touch' Golden Visa service streamlines the application and renewal process. This service assists with various aspects, including visa applications, issuing other visas, support with residency status, residency and identity documents, and renewal in a single step. This saves applicants time and effort, making the Golden Visa process more efficient.

Navigating the Process

If you have any questions about the Golden visa application process, you can contact the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP), or connect with UAE's embassies and consulates

If you need information specific to Dubai, you can contact the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai (GDRFAD) for visa-related inquiries.

Residence Visa for Remote Work 

Foreigners working outside the UAE now have the opportunity to legally live in the country using the virtual work residence visa. This one-year visa allows you to enter the UAE as a self-sponsored individual and work based on the visa's conditions.

To apply for this remote work visa, you need to provide evidence that:

  • You work remotely for a company located outside the UAE.
  • You earn a monthly income of at least USD 3,500 or equivalent in another currency.

Dubai's Virtual Working Programme

Dubai offers a similar option through the virtual working programme, catering to those already working remotely. You can move to Dubai from outside the UAE and continue your current remote work setup.

Who's Eligible for the Virtual Working Programme

This program is designed for:

  • Individuals living and working outside the UAE.
  • Entrepreneurs and start-up companies that meet specific criteria.

If your application is approved by UAE authorities, you can bring your family along too.

Duration and Application

The virtual working programme is valid for one year and can be renewed. To apply, ensure you have a passport with at least six months of validity and valid health insurance covering your UAE residency.

For Employees

If you work for a company, you must:

  • Show proof of employment with a one-year contract.
  • Earn a minimum monthly salary of USD 5,000.
  • Provide your salary slip for the last month and bank statements for the past three months.

For Employers

If you're a company owner, you must:

  • Prove ownership of your company for at least a year.
  • Demonstrate an average monthly income of USD 5,000.
  • Provide bank statements for your company's account for the past three months.

Costs and Benefits

The fees for the virtual working programme are USD 287 per person. You'll also need to cover the cost of UAE-valid medical insurance and processing fees. Keep in mind that paying processing fees doesn't guarantee approval.

This programme gives you access to services like telecommunications, utilities, medical facilities, and schooling. Moreover, you can leverage Dubai's advanced digital infrastructure, global networking opportunities, and the benefit of zero income tax for individuals. 

Wrapping up

To sum it up, understanding the process of securing a work permit and visa is your ticket to working in the UAE. If you’re an employer with an employee relocating to the UAE - reach out to our team to learn how to simplify the process. Book a demo today. 


Borderless does not provide legal services or legal advice to customers, contractors, employees, partners, or the general public. We are not lawyers or paralegals. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Back to Blog