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Want to Settle in the UAE? Legal Steps to Make the Emirates Your New Home

Settling in UAE requires meticulous attention to legal details, where expertise of legal professionals can be invaluable

Owner's Profile

Pavitra Shetty

Published on May 25, 2024, 13:36:19


dubia, moving to dubai, settle in dubai, tips to start in dubai, visa requirements, immigration


Moving to the UAE is an exciting adventure, blending modern luxury with rich traditions. However, to truly thrive in this dazzling oasis, you must navigate its unique legal landscape and embrace its cultural norms.

Here's your ultimate guide to settling in the UAE, packed with essential steps, must-dos, and things to avoid.

About the UAE

The UAE is a constitutional federation of seven emirates, with Abu Dhabi city as its capital. Arabic is the official language, and Islam is the official religion.

The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT, and the Arab Emirati Dirham (AED) is pegged to the US dollar (USD) at a rate of 1USD = Dh3.6725. The UAE passport is ranked 1st globally.

Get the Right Visa

Employment Visa: Sponsored by your employer, this visa is your gateway to working and living in the UAE. Valid for two to three years, it’s essential for starting your new life.
Residence Visa: Once you have your employment visa, you need a residence visa. This key document allows you to open bank accounts, lease property, and more.
Family Visa: You can sponsor residence visas for your family, provided you meet certain income requirements and can provide accommodation.
Investor Visa: For those starting a business, this visa requires a significant financial commitment to a UAE-based venture.
Virtual Work Visa: Foreigners employed outside the UAE can live here legally with a virtual work visa. This one-year visa allows them to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work according to the terms and conditions issued with the visa.

Pass the Medical Tests

To ensure public health, you’ll undergo medical tests for diseases like HIV and tuberculosis. These tests are mandatory and must be conducted in authorised UAE centres.

Secure Your Emirates ID

This ID is your official identity card in the UAE. Issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, it’s required for almost all government services and transactions.

Open a Bank Account

Managing your finances is crucial. With your passport, visa, Emirates ID, and salary certificate, you can open a bank account and start handling your money efficiently.

Obtain a Driving Licence

Planning to drive? You’ll need to either convert your existing license or get a new UAE driving license. This usually involves passing a driving test unless your home country has a reciprocal agreement with the UAE.

Find the Perfect Home

Whether it’s a sleek apartment or a spacious villa, securing accommodation is a priority. Make sure your lease is registered with the Ejari system in Dubai or the Tawtheeq system in Abu Dhabi for legal protection.

Get Health Insurance

The UAE offers top-notch healthcare. Ensure you have health insurance, often provided by employers, covering you and your family comprehensively.

Choose the Right School

If you have children, research schools offering your home country’s curriculum or international standards. Early applications are key due to competitive admissions.

Navigating the Dos and Don'ts


Respect Local Laws and Traditions: Understanding and respecting the UAE’s laws on public behaviour, dress codes, and alcohol consumption will help you avoid legal troubles.
Stay Updated on Visa Rules: Keep track of visa renewal dates to avoid fines or complications. An expired visa can lead to significant problems.
Join the Expat Community: Connecting with fellow expats can provide invaluable support and advice as you settle in.


Engage in Prohibited Activities: Avoid illegal activities like drug use, gambling and proselytising. The UAE has strict laws with severe penalties.
Disrespect Public Spaces: Public displays of affection, littering, and using offensive language are not tolerated and can result in fines or deportation.
Overstay Your Visa: Overstaying can lead to hefty fines and deportation. Always ensure your visa and residency permits are current.

Eligibility Criteria for Permanent Residency (PR) in the UAE

If you fulfill the following eligibility criteria, you can apply for PR in the UAE:

  •  Completing studies in a UAE educational institution.
  •  Being a child, spouse, parent, maid, or close relative of a UAE citizen.
  •  Owning property in the UAE.
  •  Making a significant investment in the country.
  •  Having a full-time job in the UAE under a private or government company.
  •  Retiring in the UAE.

How to Get Permanent Residency in the UAE

The critical step for obtaining permanent residency in the UAE is getting your sponsor's entry permit. They can do this online or in person through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) or the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.


  •  Sponsor Application: Your sponsor must apply for the Residency Visa at the GDRFA.
  •  Fee Payment: Your sponsor will pay the UAE Residence fee, which depends on your visa validity.
  •  Visa Approval: Upon approval, you receive a Residence visa affixed to your passport and an Emirates ID with the same validity as your visa.

Necessary Documents for Getting PR in UAE

  • To ensure a smooth application process, prepare the following documents:
  •  Two passport-size photos
  •  Your original passport
  •  Appropriately filled application form
  •  Entry visa
  •  Proof of health and good character
  •  Family ties evidence (birth/marriage certificates) for family visa applicants
  •  Work contract, trade licence, and firm documents for work visa applicants
  •  Additional documents for travel purposes
  •  Proof of health insurance policy

Different Pathways to Apply for Permanent Residency in the UAE

The timeframe to get permanent residency varies, but generally, it can take from one to 10 years. You need a sponsor through employment, investment, company registration, family, or education. Here are the pathways:

Employment Visa Path

Eligibility: Minimum monthly income of Dh3,000 (with employer-provided accommodation) or Dh4,000 (without employer accommodation).
Process: Obtain an entry permit valid for two months before securing a residency permit.

Investor Path

Eligibility: Purchase property valued above Dh1 million.
Process: A residence visa valid for two years, with no right to work in the Emirate.

Company Registration Path

Process: Register a company in the Emirate or a free zone. Onshore companies require local partner sponsorship, while free zones allow full ownership.
Validity: Three-year residence visa, renewable.

Family Visa Path

Eligibility: Salary above Dh4,000 or Dh3,000 (with accommodation); Dh10,000 to sponsor parents.
Process: Apply for a residence visa for close family members.

University Student Sponsor Path
Eligibility: Sponsorship by a UAE university or being an outstanding student with specific academic achievements.

Residence Visa for Working Outside the UAE

Foreigners employed outside the UAE can live here legally with a virtual work visa. This one-year visa allows them to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work according to the terms and conditions issued with the visa. To apply for a remote work visa, you must provide proof:

  •  That you work remotely for an organization outside the UAE.
  •  That you receive a monthly income of Dh3,500 (or its equivalent in a different currency).

Processing Time and Fee for PR in the UAE

Cost: Around Dh100 for a one-year residency visa, plus processing fees (Dh40 online, Dh70 offline).

Time: Standard processing takes 3-4 working days; express processing takes about 36 hours.

Grace Period After Visa Expiry

The UAE authorities grant expatriates a grace period of 30 days after their residence visa expires. During this period, you can stay in the country without renewing your visa, but you must leave and re-enter with a new entry permit afterward.

How to Track PR Application Status Online

* Visit the official tracking site.
* Click on 'Track your Application Status'.
* Enter your 'Request Number' and submit.

Benefits of Obtaining Permanent Residency in the UAE

Permanent residency in the UAE allows you to stay without interruption, travel and conduct business freely. Benefits include:

  •  Access to healthcare, social security, and financial benefits.
  •  The ability to live, work, and study in the country.
  •  Tax breaks and higher-paying job opportunities.
  •  Compensation for illness.
  •  Rights to open a business or private account.
  •  Sponsoring family members.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in the UAE?

In the UAE, the average monthly expenses for a single individual are around Dh4,000, while the average cost of living for a family of four is about Dh14,000. This includes rent, groceries, transportation, and leisure activities.

Settling in the UAE requires meticulous attention to legal details, where the expertise of lawyers and legal professionals can be invaluable. From navigating visa procedures to securing permanent residency, legal experts offer essential guidance through the intricacies of UAE immigration law.

However, it's not just about legalities; understanding and respecting cultural norms are equally vital. Legal experts who possess both legal proficiency and cultural acumen can ensure a smooth transition and integration into Emirati society.

In your journey to establish yourself in the UAE, entrust your legal matters to seasoned professionals committed to safeguarding your interests and facilitating a seamless transition. With their expertise, you can navigate the complexities of UAE immigration law with confidence and ease.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.