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Visas

The procedures for getting a visa to enter the UAE are relatively simple and hassle-free and if all documents are in order, then the visa is issued within 72 hours. In urgent cases, visas are also issued within a day.

The kind of visa required for entry into the UAE depends on several different factors such as your nationality, the purpose of your planned visit and your planned visit duration. If you are coming to work In the UAE you will require a visa that can only be obtained on your behalf by your employer or sponsor.

National citizen of GCC countries
National citizens of GCC countries do not require a visa to visit the UAE. They will simply need to produce their GCC country passport upon arrival at the point of entry into the UAE.

Other categories of visitors
The following categories of visitors may receive their visit visa upon arrival at the airport:

  • AGCC residents: GCC Residents who are not GCC nationals but have a high professional status such as company managers, business people, auditors, accountants, doctors, engineers, pharmacists, or employees working in the public sector, their families, drivers and personal staff sponsored by them, are eligible for a non-renewable 30-day visa upon arrival at the approved ports of entry.

  • National citizens of the following countries: Australia, Andorra, Austria, Brunei, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and The Vatican will be granted a free-of-charge visa for a single visit upon arrival in the UAE. It should be noted that this list may vary slightly from time-to-time and it is therefore best to check with your local UAE embassy or the airline that you are using to fly to the UAE.

  • German citizens: German tourists and business visitors may apply to the UAE embassy in Germany for a one or two year multiple-entry visa. No sponsor is required. The maximum duration of stay of visa holders should not exceed three months a year.

Visa categories

Entry service permit: An entry service permit applies to the following categories and their families accompanying them: Company manager's representatives, sales managers, account auditors, delegations from companies or establishments to carry out a commercial activity in the UAE, consultants requested by companies operating in the UAE that are required to carry out an urgent task.

In order to complete the application, the sponsor will require the visitor's date of arrival and flight details, and a photocopy of the first few pages of the visitor's passport which should be valid for at least three months.

Visit visa: The visit visa applies to tourists who wish to spend more than 14 days in UAE, those coming for family visits, as well as those on long-term business visits. It requires the sponsorship of any UAE resident or any company or hotel licensed to operate within the UAE.

In order to complete the application, the sponsor will require the visitor's date of arrival and arrival details and a photocopy of the first few pages of the visitor's passport, which must be valid for at least three months. Hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, travel agents and airlines may not levy supplementary charges or processing. The Visit Visa holder may enter and leave the country through any port of entry in the UAE.

Tourist visa: A special category of visas under the Visit Visa type is a tourist visa, which can be obtained for individual tourists from most countries. Visitors barred from the Tourist Visa are those from Israel, sanctioned countries and those from countries facing unrest.

The Tourist Visa requires the sponsorship of hotels and tour operators who bring in visitors. Hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, travel agents and airlines as mentioned above may not levy supplementary charges or processing.

Multiple entry visas: Multiple entry visas are issued to business visitors who have a relationship with either a multinational or other reputable local company, and who are frequent visitors to the UAE. The visitor must enter the UAE on a visit visa and obtain the multiple entry visa while in the country. The visa is stamped on the passport.

Transit visa: Transit passengers stopping at Dubai International Airport for a minimum of eight hours and meeting the certain conditions mentioned below are eligible to obtain a 96-hour transit visa. These conditions are as follows:

  • Airlines sponsored only (prior arrangements maybe required)

  • Applications should have a confirmed onward booking to the 3rd destination

  • For transit passengers or those holding special permits, or for visit or mission, the passport or the document must be valid for at least three months

  • Citizens of the following countries are not eligible for this visa: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Niger, and Yemen

Renewals

The Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) renews the Visit Visa at its expiry date if the sponsor so decides. Renewals can be made by exiting and re-entering the country. If you overstay your visit visa, there's a ten-day grace period in which to leave the country. After that period, each day overstayed will attract a fine.

Documents required for a visa: To obtain a visa from a UAE embassy, the following documents are required:

  • Valid Passport

  • Two photographs

  • Duplicate application form

  • Letter or fax from the sponsor in the UAE to the embassy concerned

  • A letter from the applicant's company plus photocopy

Family visa: This type of visa is required if an expatriate intends to bring a member of their family to the UAE for an indefinite period of time.

A family visa can be acquired based on the following criteria:

  • Expatriates or residents (also known as sponsors) must earn a minimum monthly salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 + accommodation.

  • A short term visa, valid for 30 days, can be acquired for an application fee of AED 620 + typing fees; while AED 1,120 + typing fees needs to be paid for a long-term visa valid for only 90 days. Neither of the visas can be extended beyond this period.

  • A deposit of AED 1,000 needs to paid, which can be refunded after the relative has left the country.

 

Hiring a maid

Domestic help is one of the most sought after services in the UAE, and there are guidelines designed to make the process more transparent for maids and sponsors. Unlike other types of visas, domestic staff are subject to a different sponsorship and visa approval system.

 

Housing

Housing and accommodation
When moving to the UAE, finding an ideal place to live – in a community that reflects one’s needs and requirements – is a major concern for most. Fortunately, the UAE’s housing and accommodation sector ensures that there is something to suit every budget and lifestyle.

Many companies advertise rental accommodation options, including private villas and luxury apartments, in the classified sections of local newspapers. Moreover, specialised housing agents are always on hand to assist with relocation and house hunting. There are no limitations for expatriates looking to purchase a property as part of their relocation plan to the UAE.

Should an individual wish to take more time before buying an apartment or villa, a wide variety of options including five-star, four-star, three-star, budget hotels, furnished and semi-furnished hotel apartments are available.

Additionally, when renting a property, there are various mortgage options to finance a purchase. However, it is advisable to study residence options as per budget, travel convenience and other individual factors before finalising a property to rent. Having said that, it’s easier and more convenient to rent an accommodation than purchase a property.

Before deciding on whether to rent or buy a property, it is best to rule out the following points first:

  • How much is the rent or instalments – is it paid weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly?

  • Research the seller, the area and community, neighbours, market value and best areas to reside in.

  • An individual is required to pay annual rent in advance either with post-dated cheques or cash. The number of cheques or instalments to be paid varies from one landlord to another.

  • A refundable security deposit will also be required at the time of agreement.

Once the terms and conditions of a tenancy contract have been decided, it is imperative that all lease agreements are registered with RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) as otherwise neither party can assert their claim in case of a dispute. Property agents who act as middlemen between the tenant and landlord usually charge a commission.

Documents Required:

  • A valid passport

  • A valid residence visa

  • A salary certificate – this is a testament of an individual’s income, his or her employment and financial status

Freehold property purchase
This option is available on almost all developments in the UAE, with a mixture of freehold and a 99-year leasehold property in some cases. Expatriates with a valid residence visa and even overseas investors can purchase property in the UAE.

 

Banking

Banking processes and procedures
Banks in the UAE offer varied choices that are on a par with international standards. There are both locally-incorporated as well as foreign banks, commercial/retail and investment. In most cases, the foreign banks also offer non-resident accounts to be opened if they have a presence in the account holder’s home country. The UAE is also home to several renowned Islamic or Sharia’a-compliant banks and institutions, including Dubai Islamic Bank, the world’s first Islamic bank. In 2013 the number of commercial banks in the UAE was 51 including both locally-incorporated and foreign ones, aside from nine representative offices of foreign banks. Islamic (Sharia’a-compliant) and regular banks are all governed by the Central Bank of the UAE.

Initiating accounts
Opening a commercial bank account for individual purposes in the UAE is a very simple procedure, but sometimes this varies from bank-to-bank and account type. Expatriates must have a valid residency visa with an expiry date of no less than one month to open an account.

Accounts
The main types of account that can be opened are current, savings and deposit cccounts. Current accounts offer a chequebook facility, but require a minimum account balance, while savings accounts have no chequebook facility and in certain cases, only an ATM card and no minimum balance is required. Deposit dccounts vary according to the fixed savings/amount, tenure and interest accrued.

Deposits and withdrawals
There are ample ATMs located across the UAE for cash withdrawals, which can also be used for making utility bill payments, while the same also house Cash Deposit Machines (CDMs) for credit card payments and account deposits. Overdrawing on the accounts is done only with prior application and approval from the bank.

Issuing cheques
The process of writing cheques is similar to that in the UK, and these can be written in English or Arabic. Although cash or debit payments are preferred for everyday transactions in Dubai, a large number of service providers require personal cheques for regular payments like tenancy payments or guarantees in case of loans, mortgages and utility services. Cheques are mostly not accepted by local retailers. It is important to note that issuing a cheque without the necessary funds in the account is a criminal offence in the UAE. If the cheque bounces, the bearer can file a criminal case against the issuer. This could result in a travel and/or immigration ban on the defaulter.

Credit cards
Most banks issue credit cards which carry set interest rates, while in the case of Islamic banks, a pre-listed fee is charged. Every bank has different salary and employment tenure criteria for issuing cards, while all of them require a cheque as a guarantee. Non-payment of credit card dues can also be a criminal offence if the cheque is deposited and returned due to insufficient funds.

Bonds and savings certificates
Some banks and financial institutions, both regular and Islamic, offer fixed bonds and certificates as investment or saving vehicles. These offer attractive returns of interest and can be cashed at any time at the same bank or institution.

Currencies
Although AED is the currency of record, in some banks, savings accounts can be opened in major foreign currencies, predominantly US$ and GB£.

Salary transfer
Having the salary transferred to an account is required to apply for loans, mortgages, utility services or tenancy contracts, as a bank statement is usually required along with proof of income.

Services
As with all global banks, standard banking services are offered by UAE banks. These include cheque clearance, standing orders, direct debits, salary transfer and credit card repayments. Most of these transactions per year are free, including withdrawing cash from any of the bank’s ATMs, although a nominal fee is charged for withdrawals from other banks’ ATMs.


 

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