Nationals of some countries can enter the UAE for tourist or business purposes without a visa, while others may need to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Those who wish to live and work in the UAE for an extended period of time will need to obtain a residence visa.

Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well as those on a designated list of countries, don’t require a visa to travel to the UAE. Citizens of these countries will be issued with a 30-day or 90-day visitor’s visa (depending on their nationality) when they arrive in the UAE. This visa can be extended for a further 30 days for an additional fee.

Citizens of other countries will need to obtain a visa before arrival, which is a relatively painless process that can be done online through the emirates airline website. Once an application has been submitted, either online or through a designated visa centre, applicants will receive their UAE visa entirely online – without having to submit their passport for stamping.

Those holding an Israeli passport are not permitted to enter the UAE.

Expats who want to obtain a residence visa for the UAE will need to either be sponsored by an employer, which allows for the right to work and live in the UAE, or by a family member, which only allows for the right to live in the UAE.

There are a number of different residence visas available for the UAE, such as domestic helper visas, work visas and family visas. The type of visa an expat applies for will depend on what they intend doing in the country. In most cases, the residence visa is valid for two years.

For expats taking up a job in the UAE, the application for the residence visa is generally taken care of by the employing company, which will submit all the relevant documents to the authorities, as well as carry the costs. Employers in the UAE also usually process residence visas for the spouse and children of their expat employees.

Valid residence visa holders may sponsor their spouse and children, providing they meet the minimum salary requirements as stipulated by the Department of Naturalization and Residency. Sponsoring a parent requires a higher minimum salary and may require a deposit.