UAE Free Zone Residence Visa
An individual can obtain residency in the UAE Free Zones through various ways. The UAE Residence Visa is issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in the UAE. This is where the immigration file is kept.
The Free Zone is the sponsor of the UAE Residence Visa. As there as more than 45 free zones and 7 emirates in the UAE, all government related matters need to be done in the respective Emirate where the UAE residence visa is issued.
Types of Residence visa in the Free Zone
The most common method to obtain a UAE residence visa in the free zone is to get an employment contract through one of the free zone companies – wherein the employee and employer shall enter into an agreement – which could either be unlimited or limited – based on the employer’s discretion. The UAE Residence Visa issued from a Free Zone are normally valid for 3 years (onshore visas are normally valid for 2 years).
The Freezone are not deemed to be ‘Onshore’ and therefore there are restrictions on Freezones doing business Onshore (within the UAE). Freezone visas do not deal with UAE Ministry of Labour (Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation – MOHRE) at all, only the Immigration department (GDRFA). This makes the process much more straight forward but means that Freezone visas do not strictly allow the individuals to work outside the Free Zone (i.e. Onshore) as they do not have a full UAE Labour contract.
Entrepreneurs who wish to open their own companies in a UAE Freezone are eligible to apply for residency in the UAE on either Employment i.e. Manager, Business Development, etc. or with an Investor visa. An Investor visa is likewise valid for 3 years and no deposit at the immigration is required. Some prefer Investor visa as the application process is more straightforward and submission of the legalised diploma is not mandatory in most Freezones – although the activity of the company may require the Investor to have a Degree in that particular discipline
Both Employment and Investor visa holders can apply for their dependents’ residence visas i.e. wife, children, husband, housemaid, etc. For employment visa holders, a specific range of salary and set of requirements are required to be met to be able to apply for the dependent’s residence visa.
- Applicant’s presence in the UAE for the period of applying for the visa up to the point of receiving back the passport from the free zone with the stamped residence visa on it (allow 15 days and remain in country during this time to complete the process)
- Blood test and X-ray results from the medical test at the UAE immigration department
- Original valid passport
- Legalised Attested Educational Certificate (applicable for Employment Residence visa with higher job category or Professionals i.e. Manager, Engineer, Nurse, Teacher, etc.)
Working Part-Time in the UAE
In effort to improve worker mobility in the UAE, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has introduced the Part-Time Employment Contract system, allowing Emiratis and expatriates to legally work for two or more employers at the same time, after obtaining the relevant work permit. Find more details on below link
Two options for applying for Free Zone Visa in the UAE
- Outside the country
This process is applicable for clients who are outside the UAE and wish to enter the UAE through Residence Visa. The Employment Visa Entry Permit (EVEP) will be deposited at the immigration section at the airport – ready for the client’s entry.
The client will be required to stay in the UAE for finalisation of the visa i.e. medicals, Emirates ID application, insurance, visa stamping, etc. – which shall take an approximate of 2 weeks’ time.
At this stage some freezones require health insurance for all employees and dependants in order to obtain visas some do not. Please ask your contact at PRO Partner Group for specific information on this.
2. Inside the country
This applies for clients who are already in the UAE via tourist visa or cancelled residence visa. This process takes an approximate of 3 weeks.
PRO Partner Group provide a personalised approach to PRO services such as UAE residence visa application and other substantiation matters, with a dedicated service tailored to all our clients’ business’s specific requirements. Processing government documents can be a complex task for many businesses, particularly for foreign investors who are unfamiliar with the region. PRO Partner Group’s service facilitates this, making the entire process quicker and simpler.
PRO Partner Group have a highly experience team of fluent Arabic speaking PROs on the ground to assist companies with seamless Government Liaison Services in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and across UAE within Freezones and Onshore. Our operational support team will also ensure good client communication, follow up and tracking of processes and documents at all times.
Patricia Tan is the Client Relationship Executive – Free Zone specialist at PRO Partner Group. For further information about Free Zones in the UAE please contact Patricia on
firstname.lastname@example.org or call a member of the team on:
+971 (0)4 456 1761 (Dubai)
+971 (0)2 448 5120 (Abu Dhabi)
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