UAE visas: What is the difference between entry permits and residency?

The Gulf country issues various types of entry permits and visas to foreigners to come, work and live here


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 9:28 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 10:36 PM

The UAE is one of the most popular countries among expatriates worldwide.

According to the InterNations’ 9th edition of the Expat Insider 2022 survey, the UAE is ranked 6th out of 52 countries for best countries to live as around 71 per cent of expats are happy with their life in the UAE.

Since the UAE is a magnet for workers, investors and tourists alike, the Gulf country issues various types of entry permits and visas to foreigners to come, work and live here.

What is an entry permit?

An entry permit is a document issued by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security that allows foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period. The document may be in physical or electronic form.

Some nationalities may not require an entry permit as they can get a visa on arrival at one of the UAE’s airports.

Types of entry permit:

There are various types of entry permits for different purposes such as employment, family visit, tourism/transit, medical treatment, humanitarian mission and attending conferences.

The duration of stay for each entry permit differs according to the type of entry permit.

For example, entry permits for transit allow the person to stay in the country for four days, while entry permits for employment allow the employee to stay in the country for two months, during which his sponsor must change the employee’s status to residence visa, or else must leave within the duration of stay. If the entry permit holder does not change his status into a residence visa, he has to leave the country upon the lapse of entry permit duration to avoid fines and penalties or renew within the prescribed periods, according to new rules.

Starting October 21, 2018, all types of visit visas and entry permits can be extended for 30 days twice, upon renewal without the need to leave the country.

However, the new rule for an extension does not apply to visitors and tourists who are residents in GCC countries, residents accompanying GCC nationals, those on special entry permits, and those on 96-hour permits for special missions.

Residence visa: It is issued to the foreigner when he is already inside the country having entered using the entry permit. Only sponsors meeting the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs can apply for the foreigner’s residence visa. A residence visa requires the person sponsored to undergo a medical test and prove that he/she is medically fit and he must pass a security check. The validity of a stay on a residence visa varies according to its type and the sponsor. It could be for one, two or three years.


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