Sponsoring family residency visa by expatriates
Both, employers and employees with a valid UAE residence visa can sponsor residence visas for their families. Unlike before, employees can sponsor their families regardless of their job titles if they earn a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation. Clearing medical fitness examination applies to all newcomers who have completed the age of 18.
Expatriate residents, both employers and employees, may sponsor their families in the UAE provided they have a valid residency permit.
Male residents who are employed in the UAE can sponsor their immediate family members, such as wife and children, subject to conditions which include minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation.
Since March 2019, the type of profession is no longer a condition for an expatriate worker to be able to sponsor his family visas. The UAE government amended its previous provision under which only listed professions could apply for family sponsorship visa. Now, a foreign worker can bring over his family members to the UAE and sponsor their residence visas regardless of his profession as long as he maintains the ‘income criteria’ i. e. the minimum wage requirement, which is a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation. Check with the relevant GDRFA for more information.
Further, if the father of the family is residing in the UAE and meets the conditions for sponsoring his children, the mother is not allowed to sponsor them.
A resident sponsor has 60 days to apply for his dependents’ residence visa after they enter the UAE and modify their status from an entry permit holder to a residence visa holder.
Family members are issued visas for one, two or three years depending on the nature of the work and labour contract of the sponsoring member and his capacity as an employee or employer.
In general, expatriate employees are issued residency visa for one year or two years based on their labour contract, while expatriate employers are issued residency visa for three years.
Sponsored residents except adult males who are continuing their education and sponsored parents can enjoy the same visa duration as their sponsors. For the adult males and parents, the residence visa is granted on a yearly basis regardless of the sponsor’s visa duration.
The conditions are subject to change from time to time. Kindly check with Dubai GDRFA or the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
Medical fitness requirement
In order for the UAE to grant or renew a residence visa for family members, males and females who have completed the age of 18 need to undergo and pass medical fitness tests at government approved health centres in the UAE.
All applicants of visa, whether for first time or for renewal, will be tested for two communicable diseases: HIV (by testing their blood) and pulmonary tuberculosis (by taking an x-ray of their chest). Those found to be HIV positive or having tuberculosis will be considered medically unfit and therefore will not be granted a residence visa. They will be deported immediately by the UAE’s authorities.
Residents who are detected with dormant or inactive pulmonary tuberculosis are also considered medically fit. In this case, they are granted a one-year ‘Health Fitness Certificate for Residence’ subject to treatment and follow-up by the Department of Preventive Medicine or equivalent government health authority. Hence, if you suspect to be suffering from a communicable disease it is advisable to get yourself tested in your home country first.
Locate government medical fitness centres:
Abu Dhabi and Dubai have several medical fitness centres. Check also medical examinations centres for residency offered by the Ministry of Health and Prevention – Preventive Medicine Department.
- Apply for medical examination for expatriate residence visa – Ministry of Health and Prevention
- Health conditions for a UAE residence visa – UAE Government portal
- Resolution No. 5 of 2016 amending provisions of the Cabinet Decree No. 7 of 2008
- Communicable Diseases Bulletin (PDF 2.65 MB)-Department of Health – Abu Dhabi
Sponsoring your wife and children
An expatriate resident may sponsor the residence visa for his wife and children if he fulfils the above mentioned sponsorship requirements set by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
To sponsor his wife, the expatriate resident must prove an existing marital relationship by submitting an authenticated marriage certificate in Arabic or duly translated into Arabic by a certified translator.
Sponsoring two wives
In strict cases, a Muslim resident may be allowed to sponsor his two wives, if he meets certain terms and conditions set by the respective GDRFA.
An expatriate resident can sponsor his daughter/s only if she/they is/are unmarried.
A resident can sponsor his son/s only up to the age of 18. If after the age of 18, the son is studying in the UAE or abroad, he can be sponsored until the age of 21 on providing the proof that he is studying. However, for his residence visa to stay valid, he has to enter the UAE at least once every six months. The residence visa is granted on a yearly basis, renewable until the person finishes his education.
Note: New rules for children’s visa sponsored by parents
Starting from 21 October 2018, students who graduate from their universities or secondary schools or complete 18 years of age will be granted a one-year residence visa, renewable for another year from the graduation date or on completing 18 years.
For this type of visa, parents are not required to place bank deposits. The visa will cost AED100 for first time issuing and renewal.
To avail this service, parents must present duly attested graduation certificates from universities or schools, whether inside the country or abroad.
An expatriate resident can also sponsor his stepchildren, subject to GDRFA’s conditions which include a deposit for each child and a written no-objection certificate from the biological parent. Their residence visas are valid for one year; renewable annually.
Required documents to sponsor wife and children include:
- online application or through a registered typing office
- passport copies of the wife and children
- photos of the wife and children
- medical clearance certificate for the wife and children above 18
- copy of the husband’s employment contract or company contract
- salary certificate from the employer stating the employee’s monthly salary
- legalised marriage certificate
- registered tenancy contract
- latest utility bill.
Residence for family members of university students
In January 2021, the UAE Cabinet approved a resolution to allow foreign students studying at the UAE’s universities to invite their family members to the UAE, as long as they can afford suitable housing. The resolution aims to achieve moral stability, which will support the country’s education sector and reinforce its position as a leading global destination for work and study.
Read related news coverage on WAM.
Sponsoring your parents
An expatriate employee can sponsor his parents for a year’s stay by paying a deposit as a guarantee for each parent as stipulated by the respective immigration department.
An expatriate employee cannot sponsor only one of his parents. He needs to sponsor both parents together. He also needs to provide proof that he is their sole support and that there is no one to take care of them back home.
If one of the parents has passed away or if the parents are divorced, he has to show the related official documents as justification to sponsor only one of his parents.
To sponsor parents, the employed expatriate resident must earn the minimum salary stipulated and obtain a medical insurance policy for parents with the minimum coverage stipulated for each, to be renewed each year.
According to the Amer website, DNRD in Dubai stipulates a minimum salary of AED 20,000 to sponsor parents’ visa. Check terms and conditions in other emirates.
Woman sponsoring her family
In Abu Dhabi, a woman can sponsor her husband and children if she holds a residence permit stating that she is an engineer, teacher, doctor, nurse or any other profession related to the medical sector and if her monthly salary is not less than AED 10,000 or AED 8,000 plus accommodation. She needs to provide additional documents as stipulated by the respective authority.
In Dubai, if a woman is not employed in one of these categories she may still get approval to sponsor her family if her monthly salary is more than AED 10,000 and with a special permission from the DNRD.
A single mother can sponsor her child. The authorities might ask for documents similar to those required to sponsor stepchildren.
Validity and renewal
The duration of residence visa depends on the type of sponsor and the person sponsored. It is issued for one, or two or three years. Visa is renewed subject to conditions similar to those of fresh visas.
The family’s residence permits are linked to the residence permit of the sponsoring expatriate employee. If the sponsoring family member’s visa is cancelled, it requires cancellation of the visas of the dependents.
Dependents are granted a 30-day grace period from the date of expiry or cancellation of their visa to obtain a new residence permit. If the employee fails to renew or cancel the visa of his dependents, the dependents would be deemed illegal residents and could be liable to pay a fine.