A UAE Residence Visa is a must to legally reside in Dubai (with exception of UAE and GCC nationals). For majority of expatriates entering Dubai, the company that employs them will sponsor for a UAE Residence Visa, along with labour card or work permit. A Residence Visa is a must for opening a bank account, driving license, registration of vehicle, and several such purposes.
Expiry / cancellation of Residence Visa
Expiry of Residence Visa is when your residence visa becomes invalid. There is a difference between ‘expiry’ of residence visa and 'cancellation' of residence visa. Residence visas usually become invalid on expiry (after the expiry date stamped in the visa). On the other hand, cancellation of residence visa is an active process, which will have to be done, even if the visa has expired. Therefore, these two terms should not be confused.
Cancellation of Residence visas are usually taken care of by the company or sponsor. If not, visit the UAE Immigration Department, which issued the visa, along with your passport, and present it for cancellation. Pay the requisite fee and get the typing works done. If you are overseas, the cancellation shall still be done, but, the sponsor will have to visit the department, on your behalf, with at least a copy of your passport.
The UAE Federal Law stipulates that people with valid residence visas in the UAE, who leave the country for a period of more than six months at a stretch, will have their Residence visas cancelled. They will then have to re-enter the country.
Cancellation of Residence Visa for people who have exhausted six month period outside UAE
Your Company PRO can apply for an approval from DNRD (Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department). Valid documentary evidence will have to be provided such as medical certificate/hospital admission records, or specific documents required by DNRD. It is better to apply a week prior to expiry of six month period. Usually, this is called In-Pass, and is granted to people who have genuine issues beyond their control, such as those cited below.
Exception to the rule
There are only some specific exceptions to this rule, such as those mentioned below:
Foreign wife of a UAE national, if she is on his sponsorship.
Domestic helpers accompanying a national, who is studying abroad, or undergoing medical treatment abroad.
Expatriates travelling abroad for medical treatment, provided, they are sent by the UAE government department, or work for a government department. In any case, a medical report with approval from the UAE Health Ministry or Medical Services of the UAE Armed Forces, or UAE Police is required.
Employees of diplomatic and consular missions in the UAE, and domestic helpers accompanying them.
Expatriates employed in the UAE Public Sector, based outside the UAE, as part of their job, or are being sent overseas for training purposes. Expatriate students based in UAE, but studying overseas as part of their course.
Whatever, the case may be, the best way out, is to contact the relevant UAE Immigration Authority, prior to entering the UAE, so as to avoid any issues when re-entering the country.
Work permit and residence visa cancellation
Usually your employer can arrange cancellation of your work permit and residence visa, when it is time for you to leave UAE or when changing jobs. The procedure involves closure of bank accounts, credit card cancellations, cancelling telephone subscriptions, electricity and water accounts, moving out of company accommodations, and all that is under the employer's sponsorship.
However, if you plan to continue remaining in the UAE, you will have to negotiate and find some way of retaining bank accounts, telephone lines etc., with your employer. On the other hand, if you are working in one of the UAE Free Zones, your employer and your sponsor will not be the same. Your sponsor will be the free zone authority, and therefore, the authority will be responsible for all your loose ends, although your employer can help you too.
Documents required for Labour Card / Work Permit Cancellation
The following documents may be required for cancellation of labour card/work permit.
- Sponsor's Passport copy
- Original Passport of the sponsored worker
- Three copies of application for cancellation prepared by typing agents, with the form duly signed by the sponsor and having the company's seal
- Copy of establishment card
- Copy of commercial license
- Air-ticket fare (if the worker is in default), or an entry permit to modify his status
Documents required for Residence Visa Cancellation
- Original passport of the sponsored worker
- Two copies of approved cancellation certificate by the Labour Ministry
- Copy of valid commercial license
- Copy of establishment card
Cancellation of Family Residence Visa
If you have a family under your sponsorship, it is mandatory to cancel the Family Residence Visa, before starting the work permit cancellation process. The documents required for cancellation of Family Residence Visa are:
- Original passport of the sponsored family member
- Three copies of approved cancellation certificate filled up by typing agent
- Sponsor's passport copy
- Copy of establishment card
Cancellation of Residence Visa in case of job change
When changing jobs within Dubai, the previous residence visa and work permit are likely to be cancelled. On obtaining the NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the previous employer, you can transfer the sponsorship to new employer and get new permit issued by MOL.
As of now, there is no need to cancel residence visa of family members under your sponsorship when changing a job. Instead, you are required to provide a bank guarantee of Dh.5000 for each family member to DNRD.
Cancellation of Residence Visa when relocating from Dubai
It is advisable to cancel your Residency Visa when you are relocating from Dubai. The procedure is easier if you are in Dubai, but you can even cancel your residency without having to make a trip back to Dubai.
If you have a valid residence visa, and have stayed outside UAE for more than six months, your visa automatically becomes invalid or expired, but, it is advisable to cancel it, else, you may be denied a new visa when you wish to enter the country next time.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs, Dubai says that a service is made available to those wishing to cancel their residency while staying outside the country.
If spending more than 6 months out of UAE: Sponsored individuals who have stayed beyond 6 months out of UAE will have to produce the following documents to avail this service.
- Request for cancellation of residence e-form with signature of the sponsor
- Original passport or departure statement of the sponsored person showing expiry of residency.
If spending less than 6 months out of UAE: Documents required for cancellation of residency when outside the country for less than six months are:
- Cancellation of residency e-form with signature of the sponsor
- Passport of the sponsored person or expiry of residency outside the country.
The sponsored person's residency may be cancelled even without staying more than 6 months out of UAE, in case of cancelling residency of their sponsor. UAE ID card may also be needed for this purpose.
On submitting the documents, cancellation fee of Dh.70 may have to be paid by e-form to typists, apart from Dh.130 departure fee which is applicable.
Once this is done, one working day is required as processing time.
Some considerations prior to visa cancellation
Utilities – To avoid any outstanding debts in UAE, prior to cancellation of visa, it is required that you terminate your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, water connection, electricity and telephone lines. Majority of employers even ask for clearance from such utility departments for initiating labour card cancellation procedure.
Accommodation – If you are residing in the accommodation provided by your employer, you will have to vacate within the grace period mentioned in the contract.
Residence Visa grace period
When the visa is cancelled, you will be given a 30-day grace period for exiting the country. Thereafter, for every day overstayed, a Dh.25 will be fined for initial six months, Dh.50 for next six months, and Dh.100 beyond that.
Non-cancellation of visa
Visa cancellation is a must for re-entry to UAE and other GCC nations, and to avoid any unnecessary complications in future. If you have not notified your employer about your departure officially, you can be declared as absconding, and this can result in a ban to enter or work in UAE for a specific term.
The visa cancellation services are offered at:
- Residence department – the main branch
- Abuhail center
- Jebel Ali port
- Hatta Center (Does not accept cancellation application if the visa holder is outside UAE)
- Danata – Main branch
- A’amal Center- Hyatt Regency
Note: From 1st April 2012, expatriates in Dubai will need an Emirates ID card for renewal of their residence visas.
Visa Ban in Dubai
There are two types of visa ban in Dubai.
- Immigration visa ban meaning you are permanently denied entry.
- Employment ban which is imposed to those employees who terminate their employment contract before its expiry as agreed with the employer.
Retirement age in UAE
Other visa cancellations in UAE are done due to an employee wanting to retire after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years. However, expatriates in UAE who wants to continue working even after attaining the retirement age have been given a leeway by the government by increasing the retirement age from 60 years to 65 years as from January 1, 2011. This has practically given the expatriate employees the freedom to change jobs without first acquiring a no-objection certificate from the employer. Previously, the law ensured that all workers got a six-month visa ban forcing them to leave Dubai or UAE if their current employer refused their acquisition of a no-objection certificate.
Kindly note: Visa rules are subject to sudden change without warning. The UAE Embassy in your country or the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), the relevant authority in the UAE, is the only source of information that can be relied upon. The validity period for a free visit visa on arrival change often.