Immigration Fast Facts – United Arab Emirates

At Emigra Worldwide, we know that even experienced expats can be caught off-guard when emigrating to a new country. With that in mind, here are five aspects of immigration that can trip up – or thrill! – first-time travelers to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Seven Emirate states

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) consists of seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al-Qaiwain, and Fujairah, which were united as a federal state on 2 December 1971. Though the UAE is one country, immigration requirements and processes may vary from one Emirate to another.

Different processes for dependent husbands and wives

Men seeking sponsorship for their dependent spouses can apply via the standard process, with a minimum expected monthly salary of AED 5000 with accommodation. However, women who wish to bring their husbands will need to apply via a non-standard process, with a minimum monthly salary of over AED 20,000 with accommodation. Husbands who enter the UAE via this process will receive a permit for only one (1) year; it is generally expected that the husband will secure employment locally in the UAE and obtain a Work Permit and new Residence Permit in his own right. Salaries mentioned are per our experience and may differ from what is declared by the authorities.

A family affair

Travelers who want to bring their parents or in-laws should have a minimum salary of AED 20,000 and at least a two-bedroom house; however, even if you meet these requirements, permits for parents are issued at the discretion of the Humanitarian department.

Should you bring your partner?

It is important to know that unmarried partnerships and same-sex relationships are illegal in the UAE and remain a punishable offense.

Alcohol awareness

Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs, but it is a punishable offense to drink or to be under the influence of alcohol in public. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi (although a Ministry of Tourism by-law allows hotels to serve alcohol only to those over 21), and 21 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (except Sharjah, where drinking alcohol is illegal). Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor license to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. These licenses are valid only in the Emirate that issued the license.