Employment & Residency in Dubai

February 01, 2022


You’ve been offered a job in Dubai. What’s next?

Do everything in the right order: get a secure job offer first.

It is not advisable to travel to the emirate on a visit , before taking up a job and trying to get an employment visa.You will need a visa to start working in Dubai, and it’s your employer’s responsibility to sponsor your work permit and residency permit.

Employment visas and sponsors in Dubai
As mentioned above, you have to have an employment visa to work in Dubai, you also have to be sponsored by your employer.

When you have a firm job offer, your employer becomes your sponsor and sorts out your employment visa.

The sponsorship approach in Dubai is effectively a means of controlling immigration.

Your sponsor is responsible for you and gets in trouble if you contravene any regulations. It’s their job to check that you’re reliable and trustworthy.

Your employer should issue you with an employment visa which is valid for 30 days. This will enable you to enter Dubai and begin the application process for your work permit and then your residency permit.

Your employer will advise you about the documents required to obtain your work permit, and you will need to undergo a medical examination.

Obtaining residency permit in Dubai
Everything happens in this order: you get a job offer, obtain your entry permit from your employer, enter Dubai, obtain a work permit with your employer’s help, and then you go to a government hospital or medical clinic for a health check.

You will have to do a blood test and chest X-ray and  HIV/AIDS test , hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilis. Note: if your results for any of these tests come back positive you will be deported, (with the exception of syphilis for which treatment is available).

You then return to the residency department with your passport, medical test results, and if required, other documents such as a salary certificate etc. Ideally, your employer will assist you or will do all this as there are often additional paperwork requirements revealed at the last minute!

At the residency department, the company PRO go to the typing office and obtain your application form and hand over required fees.

Eventually, your company PRO will be asked to return to collect your passport with your resident’s visa stamped in it.
It’s common for a sponsored expat who is working in Dubai to then be able to sponsor their spouse and children to join them. Most of the time the expat who sponsors the spouse will be the male of the partnership.

So once you have your residency permit you can sponsor your family to live in Dubai with you.

Each sponsored individual will also have to undergo a health check as described above. Once again the DNRD will process your application.

Negotiating your employment contract
Because of the global economic climate at the current time, you may think that if you get any offer of a job you should be grateful and quickly commit.

However, when it comes to living and working in Dubai, you need to be prepared to negotiate hard to get the right terms in place for your employment contract.

For a start, the cost of living in Dubai is high. It’s pushed up by the likes of accommodation costs, schooling and healthcare fees. So, you need to negotiate some form of compensation into your contract to cover such elements.

Here’s a list of points that expatriates negotiate on when it comes to their employment contract. These are a guide for you to know what is typically offered by an employer, it will be up to you to know how far and how hard you can negotiate:

  • Housing – some employers offer expat workers an allowance, you can then top this up if you want to live somewhere even more expensive.
    Estate agent fees – they may charge for finding you a rental property in Dubai, sometimes employers refund this.
  • Car/fuel – you will need a car in Dubai for getting around because aside from anything else, it’s too hot to walk most of the time! Some employers have car schemes and offer fuel cards
  • Annual leave ticket – many expats are given the cost of their flights home once a year, and they take the ticket during the summer months when the weather is unbearably hot
  • Education and school fees – getting your childern in a good school in Dubai is just a part of the problem, affording the schools fees is the other part; costs are exorbitant, but standards across some institutions are excellent, your employer may help you afford the best
  • Medical insurance – employers have company schemes for their staff, but not obliged to insure dependents, try to negotiate your family health insurance in Dubai
  • Notice period and severance pay – it is critical that you negotiate this point carefully. Defaulting on debt in Dubai is illegal, so you need a decent notice period and severance pay agreement in place, to give you the time and means to find another job so that you can continue to meet the likes of rental and car costs in the emirate in the event that you lose your job
  • Relocation/repatriation – if you’re being headhunted aggressively to work in Dubai you’re in a good position to negotiate on these points, otherwise, you’ll struggle.