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Confused about sponsoring your dependants? Here’s everything you need to know

Author: Olga Melnyk, Head of Sales and Business Development

There are a host of great reasons to live and work in the UAE. From a business perspective, the country’s favourable tax regime – 0% on personal and corporate incomes – makes it an incredibly attractive proposition. As does its vibrant economy and its strategic location between the vast and emerging markets of East and West.

On a more personal level, residents of the UAE benefit from a high standard of living and quality of life. The UAE recently placed 23rd in the Best Countries index, ahead of Portugal and Greece and only slightly behind Spain and Ireland. Dubai in particular is often highly ranked as a place to live. The Teleport City Comparison recently ranked the Emirate well for a number of factors affecting quality of life, including its quality of healthcare, environment, and level of safety. And there’s even more good news: as an expatriate, the benefits of living in the UAE can extend to your family too.

If you’re employed by a business in the UAE, your employer will most likely assist with the process of applying for visas for your dependants. If you are a business owner, however, then you need to make your own application to sponsor your dependants for their visas. But don’t worry, the process is incredibly straightforward – particularly when setting up in a free zone.

Who can I sponsor?

It is possible to sponsor your spouse, children, parents, and any domestic staff such as maids or drivers. Whoever you are sponsoring, you must first ensure you meet the required criteria and are able to provide the correct documentation.


Firstly, you must hold a valid UAE residency visa. Without this you cannot sponsor anyone else for theirs. You must also be entered into a registered tenancy contract in the UAE and be able to prove a minimum salary of AED 5,000 for a spouse, AED 10,000 for spouse and children, and AED 20,000 for a parent or parents.

To sponsor a child or spouse you will also need to provide the UAE consulate with an attested marriage and/or birth certificate from the country of origin – this must be legally translated if it is not written in English or Arabic.

To sponsor a child or spouse you will also need to provide the UAE consulate with an attested marriage and/or birth certificate from the country of origin – this must be legally translated if it is not written in English or Arabic.

The criteria for sponsoring non-family members – such as domestic staff – is slightly different. For example, only certain nationalities of maid can be sponsored, they must be sponsored by married males, and their visas are only valid for one year (standard residency visas can last one, two, or three years). Some Emirates will also require an official letter from an employment agency when sponsoring domestic staff.

These rules may also differ slightly if you are a woman looking to sponsor your dependants. In most cases women can usually only sponsor dependants if they can provide a fully legalised and attested divorce or spouse death certificate. Some Emirates, such as Abu Dhabi, will also only allow women to sponsor dependants if they work in certain professions – including engineer, teacher, doctor, nurse or any other profession related to the medical sector – and receive a salary of over AED 10,000.

The cost of sponsoring a dependant visa application will depend on the free zone you set up in and its associated immigration centre. However, prices usually start at around AED 2,500.

Sponsoring a dependant – step by step

Once you are sure you meet the criteria and have the required documents in place, you can now sponsor your dependants’ visa applications. Whether you require a visa for a spouse, child, maid or driver, the process consists of four straightforward stages:


1. Entry permit: The entry permit is essentially a temporary visa, valid for 60 days. The application process for an entry permit usually takes 15 days, though there is also a fast-track option which takes as little as 5-7 working days.

2. Status change: Once you have your dependant’s entry permit, it is time toactivate it. This process is known as ‘status change’ or ‘status adjustment’. It is not possible to obtain a full residency visa without completing this stage. There are three different ways to carry out a status change – in-country, out of country, and the so-called ‘border run’ which entails driving across the UAE border and then re-entering to receive an entry stamp. This process takes around 3-5 days.

3. Medical fitness test and Emirates ID registration: Anyone applying for a UAE visa must undergo a medical fitness test. This usually only takes a few hours and comprises of a blood test for any infectious diseases, and a chest X-ray. With the medical passed, your dependants must apply for their Emirates ID card – this is an identity card that must be carried by UAE citizens at all times and is needed to open bank accounts, to take out contracts for mobile phones, or tenancy agreements.

4. Residence visa stamping: The final stage of the visa application process is residence visa stamping – this refers to obtaining the actual UAE residence visa stamp or sticker in the dependant’s passport.

Sponsoring dependants – getting it right

Sponsoring your dependants for their UAE residency visas doesn’t need to be taxing. As shown above, the process is incredibly straightforward if carried out correctly. There are, however, a few common pitfalls that all sponsors should be aware of to ensure their dependants’ application is successful and not unnecessarily delayed.

Sponsoring your dependants for their UAE residency visas doesn’t need to be taxing.

These generally concern your country of origin and the specific requirements of the Emirate or free zone you choose to set up in. As these conditions can be complex, it is important to work with a company formation specialist when making or sponsoring a visa application.

A company formation specialist can also take care of all the heavy-lifting in the process for you, meaning sponsoring a dependant will usually only take a few hours of your time.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to, or click here.

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UAE laws and regulations as well as pricing related to company formation are subject to change without notice. While we produce our content on the basis of thorough research, laws and regulations might have changed since this content was published. Furthermore, responsibility for any information in external links lies solely with the operator of the third party website.