How to become a resident in the UAE?

This page provides information on how foreigners can live legitimately in the UAE.

Who can live or reside in the UAE?

Foreigners can live as residents in the UAE if they are:

  • employed by a company in the UAE – in this case, the company will apply and sponsor your residence visa while you are in the UAE.
  • employed by the government sector – in this case, the government entity will apply and sponsor your visa while you are in the UAE.
  • investors in a business in the UAE – in this case, the investor himself will process and apply for his own visa under the sponsorship of his company’s registered name.
  • buy a property in the UAE – in this case, the property owner’s residence visa will be sponsored under the property he owns.
  • dependents that are sponsored by:
    • someone who is employed in the UAE
    • an investor/business owner in the UAE
    • a property owner in the UAE.Dependents include children, parents, maids and close relatives.
  • university students sponsored by their universities in the UAE – in this case, the university will apply and sponsor your visa under the educational institution’s name.
  • retired residents – in this case, special conditions apply.


Note that a residence visa is issued to a foreigner when he/she is already inside the country after entering the UAE via an entry permit, short or long-term tourist or visit visa.

Conditions for getting a residence visa

A residence visa requires applicants who are 18 and above to undergo a medical test to prove that they are medically fit. They must also pass a security check and apply for an Emirates ID card from Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Validity of a residence visa

The validity of stay on a residence visa varies according to its type and the sponsor. It can be for 1, 2 or 3 years, or up to 5 or 10 years without a sponsor.

According to recent changes, a residence visa can also be issued for 5 and 10 years subject to certain conditions. Learn about long-term residence visas, and 5-year retirement visa in the UAE.


Learn also about 5-year retirement visa in Dubai and long-term golden visas in Abu Dhabi (Thrive in Abu Dhabi Programme).

Benefits of having a UAE residence visa

Being a legitimate resident in the UAE will entitle you to: