United Arab Emirates: Overview: Immigration Law Of The UAE

Last Updated: 2 September 2018
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, July 2019

Immigration Law of The UAE

There are several laws and regulations put in place to control the flow of foreigners entering and exiting the country's territory. Federal Law Number 6 of 1973 as amended by Federal Law Number 13 of 1996 [the Immigration Law] contains the laws governing immigration regarding the entry, and residency of expatriates in the UAE. Additionally, UAE government passes several regulations about immigration under various ministerial decrees and orders, the most relevant of which, regarding the procedure, is Ministerial Decree Number 360 of 1997 [The Decree] to Issue the Executive Bylaw of the Immigration Law.

To legally enter the country, an individual would require a valid visa as defined in the Decree as "...Permission to be posted on the passport or on the travel permit of a foreigner which will allow him to enter the country. It should accompany by all persons included in passport unless the visa specifies the names of beneficiaries of the visa."

A visa allows entry into the UAE for short or temporary periods although some of these periods are renewable. Below are the types of visas one can attain before entering the country and depending on their purpose of entry as established in Article 8 of the Immigration Law which states that "Any entry permit or visa shall state the purpose of entry into the country."

Types of Visas:

  1. Tourist Visa.
  1. Transit Visa.

3. Visit Visa

  1. Multiple Entry Visa.
  1. Residence Visa.

6. 96-hour Transit Visa.

7. 14-transit Visa.

8. 60-day renewable Visa.

The rule regarding foreign visitors to enter the UAE is that all visitors require visas except citizens of GCC countries (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE) and the government exempt the following citizens:

  1. Andorra
  1. Australia
  1. Brunei
  1. Canada
  1. Hong Kong
  1. Ireland
  1. Japan
  1. Malaysia
  1. Monaco
  1. New Zealand
  1. People's Republic of China
  1. Russia
  1. San Marino
  1. South Korea
  1. United Kingdom
  1. United States of America
  1. Vatican City

Citizens of the countries mentioned above do not need to acquire a visa to enter the UAE. Such visitors can obtain permits at the airport, for a fee of AED 100. It allows the visitor to stay in the country for up to 60 days and have the option to extend the trip for another 30 days. Extensions may be applicable for at the Naturalization & Residency department. The fee for extension is AED 500, and the party should submit it within 60 days of the trip.

Importantly, for applying for any visa or permit, it is necessary to attain the sponsorship of either a UAE resident or other legal entities such as corporations (employers) or hotels. If a hotel or a resident of UAE is sponsoring the visa or permit, they would usually deposit the visa at the airport for collecting the permission upon arrival.

The UAE bodies, which are responsible for issuing visas and permits to foreigners wishing to enter the UAE, are the Naturalization and Immigration Administration, the International Airport Authority of any member emirate and any other institute selected for this purpose by the Ministry of Interior.

Entry permits are different from visas, and one can obtain it only within the UAE from the Headquarters of Immigration and Residence. Below are the types of grants available to foreigners to stay legally in the UAE.

  1. Employment Permit.
  1. Residence Permit.
  1. Residence for Employees Permit
  1. Residence with Work Permit

96-hour Transit Visa

Article (7) of the Immigration Law describes that the "the Immigration authorities in the international airports of any member emirate in the UAE may act by rules set by the Ministry of Interior grant aliens entry the country visas for ninety-six (96) hours as per the following conditions:

  1. The foreigner should have a passport or a travel permit, valid for entry in the Country and the country of destination.
  2. He should have a ticket to continue his trip.
  3. He should leave the country within ninety-six (96) hours from the time of obtaining the visa.

Visit Visa

Article (12) of the Immigration Law defines that "Any outsider entering the Country with visit visa or authorization should need to leave the Country on the expiry date of such visa or consent either through cancelation expiry period thereof - unless he has gotten a habitation permit." An outsider can get a visit visa for various purposes. In spite of the fact that systems are pretty much similar for everyone, conditions differ contingent upon who the guest is and who the guest's support is. The lawfully allowed purposes for which one may enter the UAE on a visit visa are the following:

  • To visit family or friends that are residents of the UAE
  • To attend a juridical person
  • For tourism purposes

If the tourist remains in the country beyond the legalized period, he is fined AED 100 a day with an additional AED 100 for airport documentation processing fees. Once an individual attains a visit visa, he must travel within 60 days of its date of issue. Otherwise, there should be a renewal of the permission, and a fee of AED 150 is applicable.

Article (11) of the Immigration Law prohibits visitors to work when on visit visa as stated "The outsider who gets a visit visa may not work anyplace in the nation with or without pay or for his own. If the visa is for work purposes for an individual or a foundation, the holder may not work for another individual or foundation without the composed permission of that individual or foundation and the endorsement of the Directorate of Nationality and Immigration".

Multiple Entry Visa

Residents of the accompanying nations can get a 90-days various section visit visa substantial for a half year from the date of issue for a stay of 90 days.

  1. Austria

2. Belgium

3. Bulgaria

4. Croatia

5. Cyprus

6. Czech Republic

7. Denmark

8. Estonia

9. Finland

10. France

11. Germany

12. Greece

13. Hungary

14. Iceland

15. Italy

16. Latvia

17. Liechtenstein

18. Lithuania

19. Luxembourg

20. Malta

21. Netherlands

22. Norway

23. Poland

24. Portugal

25. Romania

26. Seychelles

27. Slovakia

28. Slovenia

29. Spain

30. Sweden

31. Switzerland

Penalty and Punishments

Article 30 of the Immigration Law expresses that If a guest goes to the UAE by any methods for transportation by rupturing the arrangements of Article (2) where no guest ought to enter the nation in any capacity without a legitimate international ID or a movement archive. Also, the provisions of Article (7) as mentioned above of the Immigration Law, the Directorate of Nationality and Immigration may order deportation and order the owner of the transportation to take the illegal visitor out of the country, and the owner shall bear transportation expenses. Any captain of any transportation means who refuses to carry out an order issued to him by the preceding article may be punished by a fine not exceeding AED 2000. If a visitor enters the country and refuses to obey the deportation order, he shall face imprisonment for a period not more than four months and a fine not exceeding AED 2000 as mentioned in Article (31). Article (32) explicitly indicates that if the owner of any means of transport or the responsible person attempts to bring any person inside the country by violating the provision of Immigration Law shall be imprisoned for a period not more than one year and fine not exceeding AED 5000. Article (33) mentions that any person, who gives misleading statements to avoid the provisions of this law, will face imprisonment for a period not more than four months and a fine not exceeding AED 2,000, and the court may order his deportation from the country. Article (34) Any person who falsifies a visa or entry permit for entering the country or residing therein, or any document to avoid the provisions of this law, or uses knowingly any forged document. The defaulter will face punishment by way of imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding AED 10,000, and the court may order his deportation from the country. Article (36) states that "any person attempts to commit a crime punishable under this law or participates in that crime or assists or induces or urges others to commit such crime, shall face punishment with the prescribed punishment for that who commits the crime itself."

The Court of Cassation (Case number 268 of 2010) decided on 30 November 2010 and referring to Article 22 and 28 of Federal Law Number 6 of 1973 read with Article 184 of Law of Civil Procedures as held as under:

"the Ministry of the Interior is not obliged to accept the amendments made by a resident foreigner to the particulars of his residence permit under which permission to reside has been granted, including the full name, unless there is a legislative provision requiring the Ministry to do so, because a residence permit is not an absolute right that a foreigner has, and the grant of a residence permit is an act of national sovereignty. Likewise, the Department is not obliged to state the reasons for not accepting any amendments, and the grant of a residence permit to a foreign male who is married to a UAE woman is a permissive matter for it pursuant to article 28 of the Implementing Regulations to Federal Law No. 6 of 1973 relating to immigration and residence of foreigners, and the amendments thereto. The Department may cancel the residence permit of a foreigner at any time for reasons connected with the public interest, pursuant to article 22 of the aforesaid law."

In case 323 (Judicial Year 26) decided on 25 April 2005, the Court of Cassation discussing the effects of illegal employment held that:

The mere fact that the employment of an employee by the employer is illegal under UAE law does not disentitle the employee to monies contractually due to him from the employer. That is a principle of Islamic law that must be applied under the Constitution of the UAE. That applies even notwithstanding that both the employer and the employee may be liable to penalties under civil law for breaching immigration and employment rules. A further reason that the employee is entitled to his dues irrespective of the legality of the contract under UAE law is the Islamic principle against unjust enrichment. The employer would be unjustly enriched if he had the benefit of the work of the employee without paying the contractual dues.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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