How long does it take to get a UAE work visa?

Whether you have recently won a project, are using the UAE as a base for new operations in the Middle East or you need to expand your existing team – you will need to get people mobilised into the country.  That means you need to get people visas, as in the UAE it is the employer’s responsibility to provide work visas to their employees. I bet you have heard stories about it taking months to get them, having to jump through various hoops and getting documents attested. 

Don’t worry, it’s really not that difficult… as long as you know what you are doing. Time is money and delays make you look incompetent to your clients.  What you need is a structured and straight forward process that is stress free.  By knowing the process ahead of time and how long it will take, it will make sure you can be trusted to deliver when you have said you will deliver. 

For a more in-depth guide on the entire process of mobilising your employees to the UAE please download our e-guide – work permits and employee visas in the UAE. 

Below is a timeline of how long you can expect the visa process to take. 

UAE Work Visa Timeline 


UAE Work Visa Timeline

(Graphics Attribution)


The documents needed initially will include the following:

  • Passport
  • Education certificates
  • Passport sized photo

The biggest time constraint here is how quickly people send things back.  Some send them instantly; some people take what feels like forever! Once these have been provided your employee would require a local contract for signing.  They would also need to fill in the necessary application forms for obtaining their visa.  Again, speed of this all depends on the person. 

Once these documents have all been signed and submitted the visa application process can begin.  The first step is to obtain Ministry of Labour approval.  This will typically take around 5 working days, it can be quicker, but it can take longer.  A lot will depend here on the profession of the employee and sometimes even their nationality can have a baring. 

Once Ministry of labour approval has been granted you are then able to apply for your employees e-visa.  A rough guide for time is again 5 working days. 

Now that you have your e-visa your employee is ready to mobilise and start lapping up all the benefits that living and working in the UAE has to offer.  Plus, they can get to work and start generating your business income. 

There are a few more things for them to do when they get there though!  The final formalities will include:

  • Local police clearance
  • Completing a UAE medical
  • Fingerprint scanning
  • Setting up a local bank account

This can normally all be done in a day and then its just a case of waiting for the visa to be granted and stamped into the passport.  They can begin working though in the meantime. 


 So, to conclude, it takes around 2 weeks from starting the process to getting your people on the ground in the UAE.  Once in country its then a further week to get everything signed, sealed and delivered.

There are other formalities that you may need to complete depending on the industry you are working in.  For example, workers in the Oil & Gas sector may need security passes to access certain sites.  These are issued through the national oil company and it can sometimes take a few weeks to obtain these as well.  Your client will need to issue you a LOA in order for you to apply for these security passes. 

If you would prefer talking to someone please give our team an email or call (+44 (0) 1625 537 555) and we will be happy to give any advice and information that you might need.

For more information about UAE work visas check out How to get a UAE work visa and our Free UAE Work Permits and Employment Visas Guide.

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