Dubai - How the work permit and residency visa process works

As a foreign citizen one cannot legally work in Dubai without a work permit and one shouldn’t even take the risk even if offered a short-term contract for example. The good news is that employers in Dubai are generally so used to employing foreign labour, that they know the ins and outs of the process required to get their expatriate employees the correct permits and visas in place.

There are number of options to find jobs in Dubai. This includes approaching recruitment agencies – either those locally in Dubai, or those specialising in your profession who have international presence. Some charge a fee, others are of course paid by the employer when they place a successful candidate.

Your other options include specifically approaching companies based in Dubai which may be recruiting staff – you can Google companies within your professional sphere for example, visit their websites and see if they have vacancies. Alternatively you can apply on spec to any companies you would like to work for.

Other options include visiting the emirate on a visit visa and attempting to network or approach companies or recruitment agencies for interview. You can also use local publications, some of which have a presence online, and search the classifieds for jobs available.

Your final viable alternative is to seek relocation from the company you’re currently working for. If they have offices in Dubai perhaps they would be willing to relocate you.

The economy of the emirate has been badly affected since 2008, and the numbers of jobs available and the number of companies recruiting international staff have fallen dramatically from Dubai’s golden heydays post 2000. Having said that, for well-qualified and experienced staff in certain sectors such as IT, finance, medicine and education, there are still vacancies available.

As competition is intense, you need to make your resume and covering letter, application form and CV stand out every single time. Don’t apply half-heartedly, put everything you have into a job application if you want the best chance of success.

In terms of securing a work permit, we covered this in depth in our article entitled ‘Moving to Live in Dubai’ – but to summarise the process you will be granted a short-term employment visa to allow you entry to Dubai.

This will be valid for 30 days during which time it will be up to you and your employer to secure your official employment visa. Your employer usually takes the lead in managing the application. Your visa will be valid for one or three years.

Following completion of the application process you can then officially apply for residency.

You will have to undergo a medical test, and once your visa has been issued you are then in a position to secure everything from a local bank account to a rental property – and of course it means you can sponsor your family to join you now that you’ve secured employment in Dubai.

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