Difference between an entry permit and a residence visa

An entry permit is a document that allows foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for the short period mentioned therein. A residence visa is issued to the foreigner when he/she is already inside the country having entered using the entry permit.

Entry permit

An entry permit is a document issued by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security that allows the foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period of time. The document may be in a physical or an electronic form. Before you apply for one, check if you need an entry permit, or you might get it on arrival.


The party sponsoring the person who wants to enter the UAE will handle the entry permit transaction through GDRFA’s online and offline channels. The sponsor could be a company from the private sector, a public entity, a relative, a UAE-based airline or a hotel and so on.


Depending on your reason to enter the UAE, there are various types of entry permits. Some of them are:

  • entry permit – employment
  • entry permit – family visit
  • entry permit – tourism/transit
  • entry permit – treatment
  • entry permit – mission
  • entry permit – attending conferences.

The entry permit has a validity date, which refers to the period within which the entry permit must be used by entering the UAE through one of its entry points at the land borders, airports or seaports. For most entry permits, the validity is two months. The validity of entry permits cannot be extended, they automatically expire upon the lapse of their time.

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 4 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 into residence visa, or else must leave within the duration of stay. If the entry permit holder does not change his status into 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.

Note: New provisions for visit visas and entry permits

Starting from 21 October 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.

Visa overstayers who do not renew, as above, will have to pay AED 100 fine for each day of their overstay, to be calculated from 10 days after the visa expiry.

However, the new rule for extension does not apply on the following categories:

  • visitors and tourists who are residents in GCC countries
  • residents accompanying GCC nationals
  • those on special entry permits
  • those on 96-hour permit for special missions.

Source: Emirates News Agency-WAM

Residence visa

A residence visa is issued to the foreigner when he is already inside the country having entered using the entry permit. Only sponsors meeting GDRFA’s requirements 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 stay on a residence visa varies according to its type and the sponsor. It could be for one, two or three years.

The GDRFA will paste a residence visa on the passport enabling him to travel freely in and out of the UAE within the validity period of the visa, provided the duration of travel does not exceed six months, or else the residence visa will be cancelled automatically.

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