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Dubai: If you are on a visit to the UAE and happen to find a job, can you start working before your work permit and visa come through? This was the query raised by a Gulf News reader.

She said: “I arrived in the UAE a few months ago, when the travel restrictions had eased and while staying here was also looking at work opportunities, as I have always wanted to live and work in the UAE. I received a job offer from an advertising firm and the work profile is perfect for my experience. However, the company wants me to join immediately, even though my visa has not been applied for. Is it going to be an issue if I start working? I am not sure how long the company may take to apply for my work visa, and I do not want to lose out on an opportunity. Could you please let me know whether I can work with them on a visit visa?”

Illegal to work on a visit visa

According to the UAE government’s official website – – foreigners planning to work in the UAE must know that they cannot work on visit visas or tourist visas. They need legitimate work or residency visas and permits to be able to live and work legally in the UAE. The employer needs to procure the work and residency permits. Working without first obtaining the proper visa status is illegal and can lead to imprisonment, fines and/or deportation. The penalties apply to both: the employer and the employee.

If you want to know all the steps you need to follow to start working in the UAE, follow our detailed guide here

Immigration and employment laws

Article (11) of Federal Law No (6) for 1973 Concerning Immigration and Residence, as amended by virtue of law 7 of 1985, Law 13 of 1996 and Federal Decree- Law No. 17 of 2017, states that: “The foreigner who obtains a visit visa may not work anywhere in the country with or without pay or for his own.”

The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) issues work permits, based on an employer’s application. The employer would also need to ensure that he is providing the sponsorship (residence visa) for the employee. In case the employee is on a family visa, he or she would need to get a No Objection Certificate from their sponsor in order to get a work permit.

If a foreign worker is found violating the visa requirements, Article (34) of the Immigration Law states: “The court shall in all cases order to deport the violating foreigner.”

Employer’s too, are liable to pay a fine of Dh50,000, according to the same article, and also face deportation. Article (34) states: “A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on any person who has used a foreigner who is not under his sponsorship without complying with the terms and conditions prescribed for the transfer of sponsorship or without obtaining the necessary permit.”