UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Major Reforms to Visa and Work Permit Schemes

September 12, 2022

From October 2022, two major reforms to the United Arab Emirates’ visa and work permit schemes are to go into effect. These reforms are certain to be a much-welcomed change and appear to extend opportunities to secure residency in the UAE to (1) Freelancers, (2) Skilled Workers and (3) Investors and Partners without needing to be sponsored by a UAE employer. Additionally, and consistent with the above reforms, the UAE government intends to implement a “jobseekers” visa which would allow those eligible visa holders to seek employment for up to 60 days. Further details on these reforms are below.

Further, in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the UAE is implementing a tourism category to accommodate and attract tourists attending the games. The new multiple-entry visa is sure to make the UAE a tourist hotspot for FIFA World Cup.

It is reported that this new visa will be issued to holders of the ‘Hayya’ card, a document that grants entry into Qatar and football stadia from November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022. It is specifically issued to those travelling to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup. The visa will allow supporters to enter the UAE multiple times over a period of 90 days and does not apply to travelers obtaining a visa on arrival in the UAE.

Green Visa (5-year validity)

The objective with this category is to allow “self-sponsorship” for many unique professionals to work in the UAE without needing an Emirati-based employer to provide sponsorship for the work permit and residency visa. As of October 3, 2022, for a period of five years, eligible Freelancers, Skilled Workers and Investors and Partners will be able to:

  • Sponsor first degree relatives (includes spouses, children, and parents). Visa holders are allowed to sponsor unmarried children up to the age of 25 and unmarried daughters of any age.
  • Obtain leave to remain in the UAE for 6 months (versus 30 days under current law) upon expiration or cancelation of visa.

Dependents will receive same the visa validity as the principal applicant.


Freelancers and/or self-employed applicants must have:

  • A freelance/self-employment permit from Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
  • Proof of a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma.
  • Evidence of annual income from self-employment for the previous two years for an amount not less than AED 360,000, (approx. $98,000.00 USD) or prove financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE.

Skilled employees must:

  • Have a valid employment contract.
  • Be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Level 1: Legislators, managers, and business executives, Level 2: Professionals in scientific, technical and human fields and Level 3: Technicians in scientific, technical and humanitarian fields).
  • Hold a minimum of bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • Have a salary of not less than AED 15,000 (approx. $4,100.00 USD) per month.

Investors or partners (replaces previous 2-year visa):

  • Approval of the investment and proof of investment (If the investor/partner has more than one licence, the total invested capital will be calculated.).
  • Approval of the competent local authorities.

Jobseekers Visa

This new visa is being introduced for jobseekers looking to explore employment opportunities in the UAE for up to 60 days. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has qualified eligibility to three different levels of professionals and recent graduates. Further, applicants must hold at least a bachelor’s degree:

  • Level 1: Legislators, managers, and business executives.
  • Level 2: Professionals in scientific, technical and human fields.
  • Level 3: Technicians in scientific, technical and humanitarian fields.
  • Recent graduates of the 500 top universities.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UAE, please contact us.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.