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Dubai: Want to visit Dubai but don’t know how you can start the process? Do you need a visa? How can you apply for one?

A Gulf News reader based in Mauritius reached out to us through our Facebook page with a simple question: “I would like to know what the visa procedures for Dubai are, for both a work visa and a tourist visa?”

If you, too, want to come to Dubai but are not sure how to start the process, here is a guide on the visa options you can avail of.

How to get a tourist visa for Dubai

Do I need a visa to enter Dubai?

Any foreign national wishing to come to Dubai, whether on a visit or to live here, is required to have the relevant visa. However, if you are coming to Dubai on a tourist visa, you may not need to apply for a visit visa in advance, as nationals of some countries get a visa on arrival in Dubai.

What is the validity period of my visa?

All visas are valid for 60 days from the date of issue until entry to the UAE, except the 48-hour and 96-hour Transit Visa, which is valid for 30 days.

What should I check before travelling to Dubai?

You would need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months at the time of entry. You may also need to apply for your tourist visa in advance, depending on your nationality.

Can I get a visa on arrival?

Citizens of more than 50 countries do not require a pre-arranged visa to enter Dubai. As per the website of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), citizens of GCC countries and citizens of the following countries can get a visa on arrival:

1. Australia
2. Austria
3. Belgium
4. Brunei
5. Bulgaria
6. Canada
7. China
8. Croatia
9. Cyprus
10. Czech Republic
11. Denmark
12. Estonia
13. Finland
14. France
15. Germany
16. Greece
17. Hong Kong
18. Hungary
19. Iceland
20. Ireland
21. Italy
22. Japan
23. Latvia
24. Liechtenstein
25. Lithuania
26. Luxembourg
27. Malaysia
28. Malta
29. Monaco
30. Netherlands
31. New Zealand
32. Norway
33. Poland
34. Portugal
35. Russia
36. Romania
37. San Marino
38. Singapore
39. Slovakia
40. Slovenia
41. South Korea
42. Spain
43. Sweden
44. Switzerland
45. The Vatican
46. United Kingdom
47. United States of America

Indian citizens

Some Indian citizens may also be eligible for a visa on arrival. This includes Indian citizens holding a normal passport and either:

• a visit visa issued by the USA or
• a green card issued by the USA or
• a residence visa issued by the UK or
• a residence visa issued by the EU

In such cases, you can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days, provided that the visa or the green card is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival into the UAE.

If you are not eligible for a visa on arrival, here are all the other visa options you can avail of:

1. Tourist visa – 30-day or 90-day

Tourist visas can be obtained by tourists from around the world. Depending on your plan, tourist visas to the UAE can be issued for 30-days or 90-day durations and allow single entry or multiple entries.

Who can apply for your tourist visa?

1. Airlines

Each airline has some conditions, which must be met for your visa to be arranged by them. One of the conditions is flying with them. When booking your ticket, you can also enquire about applying for a visit visa.

2. Tourist visas through agencies and hotels

Licensed travel agents and hotels in the UAE can arrange a tourist visa for you, provided you purchase the ticket through them and maintain a hotel reservation with the specific hotel.

You can also contact travel agencies in your country for any tourist packages available to the UAE in collaboration with a local tour operator.

3. Through UAE-based family and friends

As per the VisitDubai website, UAE residents (friends or relatives) can apply on your behalf subject to guidelines.

How can I extend the visa?

While the first time you apply for a visit visa you may not be inside the UAE, when extending the visa for another period of 30 or 90 days, you would need to apply for an ‘inside country visa change’, according to Sirajudeen Ummer, Business Development Manager at Supreme Business Services.

“The visa can be extended by providing the necessary documents and making the fee payment,” he said.

Documents required for processing inside the country visa change:

• Passport copy (which should be valid for at least six months)
• Passport size photograph
• Old visa tourist/cancelled visa copy
• On arrival nationalities would only require Passport copy and photograph if they have entered UAE using on-arrival facility.
• If the visa was applied for by a relative or friend, they may need to submit a copy of their residence visa page and UID number.

Cost

Visas can cost approximately Dh320 for a one-month visa and Dh700 for a three-month visa. If you are inside the UAE and are applying for a new visa, the cost for a one-month would be Dh960 and a three-month visa would cost Dh1,250.

2. Transit visa – for 48 to 96 hours

This type of a visa, which is available for all passport holders, from 48 to 96 hours, is ideal for a short stopover in the UAE.

According to GDRFA, here is how you can apply for a 96-hour transit visa – or an entry permit – when you arrive in the UAE.

Service requirements

To be able to get a transit visa issued at the immigration counter, you would need to present the following:

• Original passport
• An airline ticket showing the continuation of your journey, where the connecting flight should not be less than eight hours after you land in the UAE and not exceeding 96 hours and the destination of arrival and departure are not similar.
• Present a valid hotel reservation in UAE.

Service procedures

To apply for a transit visa, follow these steps:

• Visit the airline’s website or service centre.
• Submit a request to issue a 96-hour entry permit with the airline’s service officer.
• If the request is approved, you will receive an approval of the request.
• Approach the passport officer at the immigration counter and complete the procedure.

Who needs a transit visa?

As per the UAE government’s official website – u.ae – if you are not one of the nationalities that are eligible for visa on arrival or a visa-free entry to the UAE, then you need a transit visa.

Who can apply for your transit visa?

UAE-based airlines you are travelling with can arrange your transit visa prior to your journey. If your trip is through a travel agency, the agency can also help you get the visa, but all visas are routed through the airline.

3. Long-term, multiple entry tourist visa for five years

In case you are looking to visit the UAE regularly over the next few years, a new visa option has opened for tourists. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) has provided details of the five-year multiple entry tourist visa for all nationalities through the authority’s website.

Is a UAE-based sponsor required for the visa?

According to the details provided when the visa was announced, the visa does not require a UAE-based individual or organisation to sponsor the visa. Tourists can apply for the visa on self-sponsorship.

What is the maximum duration of stay on the visa?

As per the announcement, a tourist can stay for 90 days on each visit. This can be extended for another 90 days.

Up until now, tourists could only get visas for 30-day or 90-day durations.

How to apply for the five-year tourist visa

Step 1: Log on to the ICA website – www.ica.gov.ae
Step 2: Select ‘E-channel Services’ from the main module on the website.
Step 3: Select ‘Public services'.
Step 4: Select the service ‘Visa – multi-trip / tourist long-term (5 years) for all nationalities / visa issuance’
Step 5: Fill in the application form with your personal details as well as your passport details.
Step 6: Attach the following documents:
• Coloured photograph
• Passport Copy
• Medical Insurance copy
• Bank statement for the last six months with a balance of at least $4,000 (Dh14,700) or its equivalent in foreign currencies in the last six months.

Step 7: Review your application.
Step 8: Make the payment for the fees. The application fee is Dh650.

Also read

How to get a work visa in Dubai

If you want to move to Dubai to work, you can start your job hunt even before you come to the UAE. You can find out about vacancies at UAE-based companies through online portals like getthat.com

If you have received an offer letter from a company, always make sure you verify the authenticity of the offer letter. In the UAE, you can check an offer letter with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. To know more, read our detailed guide here.

Once you sign the offer letter, the employer will begin the recruitment and visa application process. This begins with an e-visa or entry permit being issued for the employee, which will be sent to you. You can travel to the UAE on this entry permit.

Once you are in the UAE, your employer will then begin the visa application process. This involves getting your medical fitness test, giving your fingerprint biometric for the Emirates ID, getting visa stamped on your passport in some cases and the Emirates ID delivered to you.

Once you have completed this process, your residency paperwork is complete.

Also read

Documents required

- Original passport and copy (the passport should be valid for the next six months)
- Passport-sized photograph
- Attested educational degrees - the degrees need to be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home country, the UAE Embassy in your home country as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) in the UAE.

Cost of employment visa

It is important to note that as per the UAE Labour Law the employer is required to cover all the recruitment and visa-related costs, which includes work permit, visa application, medical fitness and any other occupation licence-related costs that may be applicable.