How to move to the UAE: Immigration to Dubai and other places

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 1 February 2024 13 minutes read
Move to the UAE

Immigration to the UAE is possible through formal employment, studying at a local university, investing in the country’s economy, as well as opening your own company. To move to Dubai for permanent residence, foreigners need to choose a suitable ground for legalization in the country, to apply and the list of necessary documents to obtain a residence permit (resident visa), and after 3 years to request a long-term residence permit. Citizenship in the UAE is difficult to obtain, but professionals with high skills and big investors have a chance to get a passport in 30 years.

The UAE is attractive primarily because of its lack of taxes and high level of security. Workers arriving by invitation of local companies, in addition to high wages also receive a package of benefits from companies – reimbursement of the cost of travel, registration of residence permit, medical insurance, housing. Investment in real estate allows you not only officially stay in the UAE, but also eventually get a profit from the sale or lease of the facility. In detail about the possible reasons for relocation and the conditions of obtaining them we tell in the article.

Pros and cons of moving to the UAE

Immigrants make up about 90% of the UAE population. Foreign residents are attracted by the near-total absence of taxes in the country, a decent standard of living, the opportunity to earn good money and to use English without learning Arabic. The climate in the UAE is sunny and warm, the level of security is high, and there is no corruption.

The main advantages of immigration to the UAE include:

  • zero income tax rate (as of 2023 – 9% and 0% for start-ups and small businesses);
  • decent wages and working conditions for foreigners working in the UAE;
  • residents can open accounts in local banks;
  • zero corruption;
  • the right to travel freely to other countries of the Persian Gulf;
  • the opportunity to apply for a residence permit and move to the UAE with the whole family;
  • high quality medical care;
  • easy to set up your own business.

Apart from the advantages, life in the United Arab Emirates has certain disadvantages. The cost of real estate and food is high, even compared with European countries, and you have to buy or rent a car due to underdeveloped public transport system. Also, you need to learn the local laws and obey them – the state honors the traditions of Islam. In addition, not every expat who comes from the CIS countries finds the hot climate of the UAE suitable.

Ways of immigrating to the UAE

In order to move to Dubai, the future immigrant must choose a legal basis for obtaining a residence permit and apply to the nearest UAE embassy, providing the necessary documents. The applicant in his home country is issued a visa, residency is issued upon arrival in the Emirates and is renewed an unlimited number of times. In the case of immigration in connection with employment and training, an official invitation of the expat from the employer and university is required. UAE residents who are absent from the territory of the state for more than 6 months without a proven significant reason, may revoke the residence permit.

Permanent residence in the UAE is a long-term resident visa, which can be issued to different categories of applicants for a period of 5 to 10 years. In-demand specialists, outstanding students, investors who have invested large sums in the country’s economy or real estate in one of the emirates, immediately receive permission to stay in the state for a long time. Also, long-term status is requested after 3 years of legal residence in the UAE.  Together with the applicant the right to reside get his family members, as well as employees of the company. You can apply for citizenship after 30 years of legal residence in the country.

Immigration by employment

Moving to Dubai on the basis of employment is possible only after an official invitation from the employer. The UAE law stipulates that all the costs of hiring a foreign employee is covered by the company (visa fees, payment of tickets, primary housing, arranging for a medical examination).

The future employee receives permission to enter after the employer’s application, all further procedures for the issuance of residence permit takes place in the Emirates. Term of registration of residence depends on the period of the employment contract and is usually 1-2 years, specialists of high level are immediately issued a Golden visa for 10 years. Basic requirements for workers:

  • professional skills;
  • good knowledge of English;
  • willingness to relocate.

The employee, in turn, must make sure that the company is officially registered in the UAE. When the initial residency is formalized, the immigrant also receives an employment card and an identity card (Emirates ID). No taxes are paid in the country, including on wages, the amount of which is specified in the employment contract and cannot be less.

Work in the UAE in local companies


An applicant enrolled in one of the UAE universities can go to Dubai and stay there after graduation, taking care of the job in advance. An official invitation from an accredited university or college is required for entry clearance, and documents are also submitted by the institution. Prospective student must have an excellent command of English, to confirm the required level of grade point average and pay for a year of study at an Arab university 5000-10 000 USD.

The student visa is issued for one year and is renewed as many times as necessary. The foreign resident is not entitled to work while studying, but only upon completion of the university, having changed the type of residence permit. In Dubai, the outstanding students with high grades (3.75 out of 4) were the first in the country to get a Golden Visa – a long-term residency for 5 to 10 years for themselves and their immediate family.


Wealthy residents can move to Dubai for permanent residence subject to investment in real estate or the economy of the UAE. The main requirement for investors – all funds must belong to the applicant, without attracting credit. Residence permit for capital investors is issued for different periods, depending on the amount invested:

  • the purchase of an apartment or any other accommodation in Dubai worth 1 000 000 AED (272 260 USD) gives the investor the right to obtain a residence permit for 3 years;
  • the purchase of any real estate in the UAE for the amount of 2 000 000 AED (544 517 USD) allows you to get a Golden Visa for 5 years;
  • investment in the economy or real estate in the UAE 10 000 000 AED (2 722 584 USD) will allow to get a residence permit for 10 years.

Foreign investor, in addition to the investments made, must prove a stable monthly income of 2000 USD and keep the deposits for at least 3 years after the registration of residence permit. Also the holder of a long-term residence permit can apply for appropriate residence permits for their family members.

Business immigration

It is possible to emigrate to the UAE as an entrepreneur by creating your own firm or becoming a partner in a business operating in one of the emirates. In addition to investing money, a foreigner must also present their idea and get approval in one of the country’s business incubators. Entry for entrepreneurs is carried out on a special multi-entry 6-month visa. Depending on the type of activity of the company and the conditions fulfilled, a residence permit can be obtained for different periods:

  • 1 to 3 years in case of creation of a startup that has received official approval in one of the country’s business incubators;
  • 5 years if setting up a company with an investment of 2,000,000 AED (544,517 USD) or more;
  • 10 years if setting up an entrepreneurial startup that has been valued or sold for at least AED 7,000,000 (USD 1,905,810).

Long-term residency for a period of 5 years entitles the applicant to issue a residence permit to their family members, as well as three executive directors. Golden 10-year visa allows the candidate to request the appropriate permission for the business partners of the established company, provided each of them invested in the UAE the amount of 2,000,000 AED (544,517 USD).

How to get a permanent residence permit in the Emirates

  1. Collection of all necessary documents. Includes mandatory forms confirming the chosen method of obtaining residency (work contract, ownership of real estate), passport, medical certificate, bank statements, photographs. All documents must have a notarized translation.
  2. Opening a visa and moving to the UAE. Crossing the border of the Emirates is done with a short-term visa, depending on the reason for the move. The entry permit can be single or multiple entry.
  3. Registration of residence permits. The application procedure can be carried out in person at one of the Amer centers, online – on the portal of the Federal Citizens Identity Determination Authority or through a personal account on eChannels. The residence permit is pasted in the passport in 2-3 weeks after the application.
  4. Getting an Emirates ID. Issued at an authorized center, fingerprints are also taken there. Extends the validity of the card before submitting documents for reissuance of the residence permit.
  5. Permanent Residence Permit (PRP). After 3 years of legal residence in the country, emigrants in the UAE can apply for a long-term residence permit for 5 years or more. Depending on the reason, the extension period may be less, for example, in the case of a 3-year employment contract. In order to obtain a permanent residence permit, the resident must submit the same documents and evidence that are required to obtain a residence permit.
  6. UAE citizenship. Immigrants who have lived legally in the Emirates for 30 years, have a permanent source of income and speak Arabic can obtain a passport. Also, women who are married to natives and have been married for at least 15 years become citizens of the country. The application for a national passport for spouse and children is submitted by the Emirati husband to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Moving to Dubai or choosing another emirate?

Living in Dubai requires an above-average level of financial security – the cost of real estate, products and services in the UAE’s largest city is higher than in other emirates. Career prospects and opportunities to create and develop different types of businesses are supported at the government level. The famous Retire in Dubai residence permit program for pensioners has also increased the number of foreigners coming to the famous city. The high standard of living, architecture, technological innovations and opportunities for professional development attract ambitious foreigners to Dubai.

Move to Dubai

Immigrants in the UAE also live in Abu Dhabi, the largest and richest emirate, where the capital of the same name is located. The quality of real estate, roads, urban infrastructure is at a very high level. Local programs to attract foreign investors, gifted applicants and high ranking professionals allow many foreigners to move to Abu Dhabi and stay there.

Depending on their preferences, foreigners also settle in other emirates of the UAE. Sharjah is a conservative, industrial mini-state with a dry law and strict requirements for women. Fujairah is the only emirate on the shores of the Indian Ocean, with a major international seaport. Life in Ajman is more peaceful and balanced, the small area is compensated by the port and the proximity of two international airports. Ras al-Khaim is an emirate with a well-developed tourist industry and a variety of entertainment in the local mountains. Umm Al Quwain is famous for its developed sectors of fishing and agriculture.

Life of immigrants in Dubai and across the UAE

Before you move to Dubai as a family, you should consider the following criteria:

  • Prices for housing. Real estate prices in the most popular UAE city are high – the cost per unit of residential area in Dubai is on average 3600 USD, in Abu Dhabi – 2900 USD. Renting a small apartment will cost on average 10 000-14 000 USD a year. About 400 USD per month will have to pay to rent a car if necessary, filling a full tank will cost 14 USD.
  • The local agricultural market does not meet all the needs of the UAE population, many products are imported from abroad. The cost of the basic consumer goods basket for 1 person a week – from 75 USD, in large cities the figure is higher. You can buy alcohol without a special license in any emirate, except Dubai, where there is a system of licensing and Sharjah, where the laws do not allow to buy alcoholic beverages.
  • Compliance with Laws. Migrating to the UAE requires knowledge of local legal regulations. Throwing garbage in the street is considered a serious violation, as well as couples are not allowed to show their feelings in public and live together without officially registered marriage. During the month of Ramadan it is forbidden to drink, eat or smoke in public places before sunset. You should be especially careful with comments in social networks: in the Arab Emirates it is not allowed to criticize the government, to highlight the problems of the city or neighborhood, to publish photos that can be considered unsightly and undermine the positive reputation of the country.
  • Income level. Average salaries for the business sector in the UAE are high: 13,500-20,000 dirhams (3,750-5,440 USD), depending on the emirate. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the leaders in terms of wages, and there are also conditions for quick registration of one’s own company throughout the state. The language of business in the Arab Emirates is English, which provides a constant flow of foreign investors.

The UAE is suitable for motivated immigrants who want to live and work in a developed country with a minimal tax burden. Employment in the Emirates is mainly seen as an option for good earnings – in 5-10 years you can accumulate a good amount and use it as an investment in your home country or any other state. Or invest in a local business and ensure yourself a constant high income.

With the right paperwork and using all legal options, a permanent residence permit can be obtained, followed by an identity card in any of the emirates. The immigration specialists who are well-versed in pecularities of All stages of legalization will help a foreigner migration lawyers who know the intricacies of moving to the UAE. The resident will only need to improve their English and settle in a new place.

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