UAE resident visa when starting a company: sharing our experience of obtaining one

Previously, REVERA team supported the process of set-up of the company in Dubai. We successfully registered an IT-company and obtained the corresponding licence in one of the most respectable and popular freezones in Dubai: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). In today's post, we would like to share with you our experience of obtaining a resident visa in the UAE.

It is not possible to obtain a residence permit in the Emirates. The local analogue is the so-called UAE resident visa, which grants you the status of a resident of the Emirates.

There are different conditions for obtaining it: investment through the purchase of property in the Emirates, official employment in an Emirati company, incorporation of a company. After registering a company in the DIFC freezone, we accompanied the process of obtaining a UAE resident visa in connection with employment in this company.

Why do you need a UAE resident visa?

First of all, a UAE resident visa is required to be able to stay in the Emirates and fly in/out of the country freely.

Secondly, without a UAE resident visa, a business owner will not be able to open both personal and corporate accounts, and, accordingly, promptly start working with clients: reliable and reputable banks in the Emirates have requirements to have a UAE resident visa when opening a bank account.

Having a UAE resident visa can also be a plus when opening an account and incorporating a business in other jurisdictions as well.

Thirdly, there are economic substance requirements in the UAE. The presence of a visa for the owner of an IT business will undoubtedly be a plus during a substance check, as it confirms the residency status of the founder of the company.

What is the expiry date of a resident's visa?

At present, a UAE resident visa obtained on such reasons as opening a company or employment in such a company is valid for two years from the date of issue. Thereafter, an extension of the visa will be required and it is also renewable for a period of two years.

It is important to note that in order to maintain the status of UAE resident it is necessary to visit the country at least once every 180 days. The length of staying in the Emirates in this case does not matter, the main thing is to go through a passport control at the UAE airport.

What is the process of obtaining a UAE resident visa?

It is not possible to obtain a visa completely remotely, your personal presence in the Emirates will be required.

In our case the process was as follows:

1. Wait until the company registration is completed and the certificate of incorporation and licence are obtained. 

2. Determine the position to be indicated on the UAE resident visa.

If it is important to you that your actual managing status (e.g. founder, director, manager of a company) is indicated on your visa, you will have to legalise your diploma. The UAE has not acceded to the Hague Convention, which abolishes the requirement for legalisation of foreign official documents and provides for a simplified procedure for providing an apostille. The legalisation procedure is complicated, time-consuming and not the cheapest.

You can avoid the need for legalisation by applying for an employee visa (i.e. on the basis of employment with your registered company). The status of the document and the rights you acquire with it are not affected by the prescribed position. Therefore, we recommend that you opt for this option.

3. The next step is to issue an Establishment card to the company and obtain an Entry permit:

  • Establishment card is a migration card which is issued by the immigration authority. It entitles the company to issue UAE resident visas to its founders/employees. Accordingly, it is not possible to apply for a resident visa without this document.

    The time frame for receiving the card is about 5 business days from the date of opening the company.
  • Entry permit - permission to fly to the Emirates for the purposes of a resident visa. Permit is issued by the Freezone where your company is registered and is valid for 60 days from the date of issue. Within this period you need to arrive in the country and proceed with the visa application.

    To obtain an Entry Permit, you need to submit the relevant application to the freezone and also attach the employment contract between the UAE company and the resident visa applicant (if you have selected the non-managerial position visa option).

    The approximate timeframe for obtaining an Entry permit is 5-7 working days from the date the application for an Entry permit is received by Freeson.

4. Next, directly apply for a UAE resident visa.

It is important to note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of your visa application.

5. The next step is to take the medical test and biometrics.

The visa applicant will be required to undergo a mandatory medical examination. Accordingly, your personal presence in the Emirates will be required at this stage.

It takes 3-4 weeks to receive the results of the medical test and biometrics. It is possible to arrange an accelerated procedure for an additional fee, in which case the waiting time will be reduced to 2 weeks.

6. Finally, obtaining the visa itself and Emirates ID.

UAE resident visa is issued electronically, your status in the immigration office system will be converted to resident. Therefore, you can leave the Emirates as soon as you receive notification of your visa (i.e. you do not need to stick it in your passport or wait for the plastic card).

Emirates ID - UAE resident ID card. It is issued so that you can have access to the services of government agencies and other organisations (e.g. to issue a permanent mobile SIM card, to obtain a driving licence). This document is issued in plastic approximately one week after the visa is issued. You do not have to wait in the country for it, but you will need to collect it on your next visit to the UAE.

How much time and money will it take to get a UAE resident visa?

The whole process of obtaining a UAE resident visa on the foundation of a set-up business at DIFC took us about 4-5 weeks.

The average cost per UAE resident visa in Dubai is around 4,000 USD.


Thus, you will need a UAE resident visa if you plan to move your business (part of it) to the Emirates. The visa will, first of all, give you the opportunity to visit the country freely, as well as to open personal and corporate accounts in a local bank.

When deciding whether to obtain a UAE resident visa, keep in mind that the process, minimum requirements and timeframe for obtaining a visa may vary depending on the freezone in which your company has been incorporated.


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