Many expats have made UAE their home away from home. With plenty of job opportunities and a tax-free income, working in the UAE is an attractive option. Here’s how you can hunt for jobs and figure out how to get your paperwork in order.

Finding work

You can either look for work before you arrive to the UAE, or start your search while visiting. Even if you are planning to come here to search for work, it’s always a good idea to start your search from back home. Many employees are hired from abroad and companies usually post their jobs on online portals or local papers. A few job sites you can check out are:

You can also get in touch with recruitment agencies; however, remember – it is illegal for recruitment agencies to ask you for any fees. If you get hired through a recruitment agency, your employer will pay for the process.

Another good tip is to look for job postings on LinkedIn. Many companies use it as a portal to post and publicize jobs and targeting specific companies or people is easier through Linkedin. You can also network through your UAE-based contacts and ask for introductions to people in companies in the UAE in which you are interested.

[Related: The ultimate expat guide to moving to Dubai or the UAE | Buying or renting a car and using public transport in Dubai]

Working visa

To work and live in the UAE, you need an employment visa/ work permit. Living long-term in the UAE means you have to be sponsored, either by an employer or another party. If you have initially entered the country on a visit visa and found a job, you must transfer your visa to a residency visa to continue your stay. A medical test is also necessary to process your residency.

Remember, there is a difference between having a visa and a residency permit. While the visa allows you to enter the country for a certain period of time, the residency permit means you can live and work in the UAE.

There are two type of residency visas. One sponsored by your employer and the other by a family member. After obtaining your residency you can only leave the UAE for under six months at a time, otherwise your residency may be canceled.

[Related: Working in Dubai and the UAE: What are my visa options? | Buying property: Do I get residency? | Pensions and gratuities in the UAE]

Visa from employer

If your employer is providing you with a residency, they should be able to handle all paperwork relating to obtaining your residency from the Immigration Department.

To obtain a visa with a managerial position, you will need to get your education certificate attested by the right authorities in your home country. It will need to be verified by a solicitor or public notary and also by the foreign office in your home country. Therefore, before coming to the UAE, it’s a good idea to get your documents attested. Check with your employer if they have a legal firm that can do it for you if required.

Getting a residency can take up to 10 days:

Step 1: Sponsors get an entry permit for employee, if they aren’t already in the UAE.

Step 2: Sponsor completes application and submits required documents at the Residency Department. The process includes:

  • Getting a medical test done at approved clinics and hospitals and receiving the results.
  • Submit a certificate of good conduct from the home country or country of residence of last 5 years to be attested by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE  starting this February 4 2018.
  • Collecting all other documents such as passport, pictures, salary certificate etc.
  • Completing application at approved typing centers and paying fees

Step 3: Collecting stamped passport with the new residency visa.

Step 4: Applying for your Emirates ID. You can visit the Ministry of Labor website for further information on the matter. Together with your residency, you have to get a labor card. As mentioned, your employer will take care of the process. Remember to keep your labor card with you at all times. Generally your residency will last your somewhere between one and three years, depending on whether your employer has a free zone or other trade license.

Sponsoring your family

After getting your residency, you can now sponsor your family members depending a few requirements such as your salary and your living environment.

Big companies usually sponsor families along with the employee. However, you need to check with your company if it is their policy before assuming this to be the case. Many smaller companies do not sponsor employees’ families; if so, you will need to provide sponsorship and bear costs yourself.

General steps to sponsor your family:

Step 1: Family members need to get their medical test completed at approved clinics and hospitals and obtain results.

Step 2: Visit approved typing centers with required documents, medical test and completed application. You will also pay any visa fees here.

Step 3: Submit typed application and documents at immigration department, and collect visa after a couple of days with the new stamped visa.

Step 4: Apply for Emirates ID.

Keep in mind:

  • You can only sponsor your family once you have received your own visa.
  • To sponsor your family (i.e. wife and children), you will need a minimum salary of AED 10,000 per month.
  • To sponsor your parents you need a salary of at least AED 20,000 and proof of appropriate accommodation.
  • Sons can only be sponsored until 18 unless enrolled full-time in a university.
  • However, daughters can be sponsored until they are married.
  • Before applying, always check with immigration department for required documents and new laws on salary requirements and fees, as this will save you unnecessary trips.
  • During application, always carry original documents, as well as extra copies of the required documents.