UAE Expat Family Visa Sponsorship: Explained

Your family means the world to you and no matter which corner of the universe your dream takes you, living your dream sans the loved ones by your side, rain or shine, seems like something is missing. What if the country you are residing in for work welcomes your close ones too to the country?! Yes, UAE hosts more than 200 nationalities and allowing their loved ones into the country is no biggie for one of the world’s most expat-friendly nations.

The criteria to meet for family sponsorship is fairer now

Being a UAE resident, it is important to know that on meeting certain criteria you can easily sponsor your family so they can legally stay with you and enjoy all the benefits the country offers to its expat residents such as financial facilities, driving licence, vaccination, government health services & health insurance, property leasing, public transport monthly pass, admission of children in world-class government as well as private schools and others. Thanks to the new family sponsorship law for expats that came into effect in March 2019 in the UAE.

The new family sponsorship law for expats in the UAE

Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, stated that the decision of the UAE Cabinet to consider the income of foreign workers that apply to bring their family members to the country, rather than their profession, will improve the family lives and social ties of private sector workers. He also highlighted the decision’s positive effects on the labour market, as it will enhance productivity, support the national economy, and better the performance of workers within a comprehensive environment that will integrate the entire community.

As mentioned by Ali Mohammed Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, UAE is an ideal global model of residency and employment which lures ambitious individuals who aim to accomplish their dream of pursuing their study or career in a country whose wise leadership, government and people accept all cultures with open arms, making it an ideal environment for family stability. The cabinet’s decision certainly has beefed up family stability by allowing foreign workers to legally bring their families to the nation based on security, economic and social laws.

What is the family visa eligibility criteria?

If you are a foreign national living in the UAE on a Residence Visa, then you are allowed to sponsor your dependents through a UAE Family Visa. However, not everyone can bring their dependents along until they fulfil certain conditions. Having a valid Resident visa stamped on your passport, a valid Emirates ID and a tenancy contract aka EJARI or a rental agreement on sponsor’s name from any flat or residence are the foremost requirements in UAE to sponsor family members. Additionally, although there is no restriction on the type of profession the sponsor is into now, they have to match the set income threshold set by Dubai immigration. Married couples can sponsor each other for a UAE residence visa. In the light of the changes done in the regulations by the Labour Ministry in 2011, the minimum salary for male sponsors to be eligible to sponsor their family in Dubai/UAE is AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 + Accommodation. Be informed, an expatriate can sponsor his daughter only if she is unmarried and son if he is under 18. The father can only sponsor his son older than 18 for 3 more years (until he turns 21) if the son is studying in UAE or abroad provided the supporting documents proving the same are furnished.

Can men be sponsored for residence visas by women holding a valid UAE residence permit?

In view of amendment to the UAE’s new family sponsorship policy, men sponsored by their wives, daughters or mothers can obtain a UAE work permit and find employment. Effective 28th July 2019, men sponsored by their family can work legally in the UAE. Click here for detailed information on UAE work permits for husbands on wives’ sponsorship.

Expat wives can also sponsor their husbands and children only if they meet the eligibility criteria. To be able to sponsor her husband, a wife needs to hold a residence permit listing her profession as teacher, engineer, nurse, doctor or any other profession in the medical sector. Her salary should be at least 10,000 AED or 8,000 AED + Accommodation. She must submit the additional documents if requested by the relevant authorities.

Can a single mother sponsor her child?

In a normal scenario, it’s the father (head of the family) who can sponsor unmarried children below 18. However, in specific cases like this a mother can also sponsor her kid. While there are other conditions that will also be taken into account, the main eligibility criteria for applying for a family sponsorship visa UAE is related to whether you can look after the sponsored person’s requirements. Mother shall have a valid Employment visa with minimum salary of AED 3500 + Company-paid accommodation or AED 4000 without company-provided accommodation. In case of divorced or separated mothers, they have to provide a written no objection certificate (NOC) from the biological parent or custody Verdict of Court or Certificate from Local Authority or Affidavit from their Consulate. The document should be translated into Arabic. If the certificate has been issued by their home country it should be attested by the UAE Embassy in the home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in UAE. The mother is also required to put up a security deposit of Dh 2,500 for each child which is refundable at the time of visa cancellation.

Can I sponsor my step child?

Not only biological children, the UAE expatriates can also bring their step-children into the country under certain predefined conditions. In order to be able to sponsor your step children, you have to fulfil certain conditions laid out by GDRFA. With that it is mandatory to provide a written no-objection certificate from the biological parent and a monetary deposit for each child i.e., AED 5,000. The deposit has to be paid at the Naturalisation and Residency Department and will be returned on cancellation of the visa. Also note that their residence visas will be valid only for one year and can be renewed right before it is going to expire.

What are the requirements if I want to sponsor my parents?

Apart from meeting your eligibility criteria of being a sponsor, you need to keep a deposit as guarantee and render a document proving that there is no means of care for your parents back home if you wish to sponsor your folks for a UAE residency. In addition to this, your earning must not be less than 20,000 AED or 19,000 AED + 2-bedroom accommodation). Not only that, you also have to obtain an annual medical insurance policy for both of your folks with the minimum stated coverage per parent.

Can a husband (Muslim expatriate) sponsor his two wives?

If a Muslim man is legally married to more than one woman in line with his religion and country-specific laws they can sponsor their wives on meeting the mandatory terms and conditions laid out by the GDRFA.

Whom you can sponsor as a UAE resident?

An expatriate holding a UAE residence permit can sponsor his or her immediate family members only as long as the permit is valid. After the amendments in the expats’ family sponsorship policies and visa rule a UAE expat resident can sponsor their spouse, parents and children as long as they meet the requirement of a minimum salary for sponsoring their family in UAE. If you ask – Can I sponsor my siblings for the UAE residence visa? The answer is “NO” as of now. Only first degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) can be sponsored by an expat living and working in the UAE. However, you can sponsor any second-degree relative for a UAE visit visa.

Can a wife work on a UAE dependent visa?

It is illegal for dependents to work on a dependent visa. If the individual is not a minor (under 18), they must look for an employer who can sponsor you for an employment visa. The same rule applies to wives under the sponsorship of their husbands. On a wife’s visa, it’s usually mentioned “not allowed to work”. But still if she manages to find an employer who is willing to hire people on dependent visas just to save their visa expenses, she can work but without being too optimistic about high salary or any generic perks that other employees get from their company such as gratuity, air tickets, etc.

To sum up, any woman who is living in the UAE on a spouse-sponsored dependent or family visa is very much eligible to work in any of the seven emirates of the country provided they present an NOC (or a written permission) from their spouse to the employer as per the latest regulation by the Labour Ministry in 2011. But a work permit is mandatory without which working in UAE on dependent visa still remains illegal and can attract fines from the relevant UAE authorities. The employment contract should be mutually signed by both parties. To be double sure, the wife can check with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation or her local Tasheel office where there is a proper record of her employment or not.

How many types of family visas are there in Dubai?

You might come across 3 types of family visas in Dubai

  • 1 year family visa – for expats who wish to sponsor their step children. The 1-year UAE Resident Visa needs to be renewed annually.
  • 2 years family visa – for expats who are on a 2 years labour contract and looking to sponsor their family. This visa is valid for 2 years or till the sponsor’s visa is valid.
  • 3 years family visa – For sponsors who are working in the UAE on a 3 years labour contract. The visa is valid for 3 years or until the sponsor’s visa expires.

How long does the family visa processing take?

Usually, family visa processing is decided by the status of the current visa your family member holds. In most cases the process takes 15-17 working days – from file opening to stamping. The timeframe can stretch as well in some cases due to delay in receiving the approvals from the Immigration Department of the respective emirate. Sometimes it just takes 5 working days to process a family visa if you have all the required documents in place. Be informed, from the beginning of the sponsorship process till you get the family visa, the family member’s tourist visa must be valid. Keeping the expiration date of your family member’s tourist visa, you have to make sure you have enough time in your hands. If not, you’ll have to extend the tourist visa.

What are the required documents to sponsor a family member?

After making sure you are matching the salary limit as required by law i.e., AED 4000 excluding accommodation/allowance from your employer or AED 3000 with company provided accommodation, the next step is to gather the following documents depending on the relationship you share with the individual being sponsored by you:

Documents required in case the sponsor is a salaried employee in the UAE

  • Original marriage certificate duly attested from your home country by the UAE Embassy and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs UAE. For attestation you need to provide the authorised attestation agents with original certificate, passport copy, visa copy, 2 photographs and an authorisation letter (if you are not present in the certificate issuing country at the time of attestation)
  • Original birth certificate/s of your child/children duly attested by the UAE Embassy in the issuing country and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE
  • A copy of the tenancy contract (aka Ejari) in your name
  • Passport copies of the family member (valid at least for six months)
  • 4 passport size photos of the family member with white background
  • Original Emirates ID of sponsor
  • Insurance copy of the sponsor
  • Colour copies of passport and residence visa of the sponsor in high resolution
  • Original salary certificate from the employer stating the sponsor’s monthly salary (if from a free zone company, then the sponsor needs the letter from the relevant Free Zone Authority in Arabic)
  • Original Labour Contract of the sponsor
  • Latest water & electricity (DEWA) bill under the name of the sponsor

Additional documents in case of an employer/investor in the UAE

  • Colour copy of trade license (in high resolution)
  • Copy of Memorandum & Articles of Association of the company (in high resolution)
  • Original 6-month company or personal bank statement of the company

Would I get a work permit or labour card if I have been employed on my dependent visa?

You might stumble upon an employer in the UAE who is ready to hire you on your dependent visa to save a buck or two. But despite the fact that such a company does not have to provide a visa to the so-hired employee but must apply for a work permit, commonly known as a labour card which has been now eradicated and replaced by the Emirates ID. For that the employer has to make an application to a Tasheel centre with copies of visas, photographs, the NOC, and the relevant fee, which will vary depending on the category of the company and typically starts at just Dh353. After the amazing change, the employees who have labour contracts issued through the Ministry of Labour no longer are required to carry labour cards (as well as health insurance and driving licence) as it has been integrated with Emirates ID, an official id document.

Adam Global Dubai is your one-stop solution for any sort of help regarding business set-up in Dubaior long-term residency. Business set-up advisors, financial consultants, accounting & bookkeeping experts, finance & taxation professional, visa specialists, you name it, we have a huge team of qualified and wonderful people who are at their toe to make sure your life in UAE is an easy breeze with their years of experience in their respective field. Get in touch with us for any kind of family visa sponsorship assistance.

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