All those wishing to work in the UAE must have a work permit (i.e. labour card) to work legally in the country. This includes nationals, residents, and expatriates.
This article will break down all you need to know about the application process and key things you should be aware of as an employee or employer with regard to work permits.
1. What Are the Types of Work Permits in the UAE?
MoHRE (The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation) offers 12 different types of work permits that are available to different business owners according to the nature and type of work.
Here are the different types of work permits:
- Foreign worker permit: to hire an employee outside of the UAE
- Transfer work permit: to move a foreign employee from one employer to another
- Temporary work permit: to employ someone in the UAE to work on a project for a set amount of time
- One-mission work permit: to hire a foreign worker to finish a short-term task or assignment for a set amount of time.
- Juvenile work permit: to hire a minor between the ages of 15 and 18
- Student training work permit: to hire an existing student in the UAE who is 15 years old
- National apprentice permit: to train an Emirati
- Freelance work permit: for foreigners in the UAE who are self-employed.
- Work permit for a citizen sponsored by their relatives.
- Part-time work permit
- Permit to hire an Emirati or a GCC citizen
- Golden Visa work permit
2. How Can You Get a Work Permit in the UAE?
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritisation (MoHRE) is responsible for issuing work permits. Furthermore, applying for a work permit and all related costs are the employer’s responsibility.
If you are an employer and are unfamiliar with the procedure, here is the process to apply for a work permit in the UAE on behalf of an employee:
- Use UAE Pass or your username and password to log in. (Only for smart and online platforms)
- Send in an application using one of the methods for service fulfilment
- The application will be sent to the Ministry for review along with supporting documentation
- Any issues will be brought to your attention for resolution
- The work permit will be granted once all criteria and paperwork have been satisfied
- After the ministry approves the work permit, you must pay the associated fees.
If you are about to move to the UAE for a new job, we have simplified the process of receiving your work permit into four steps:
- After the employer and employee sign the formal offer letter, the employer can apply for the work pemit on behalf of the employee
- MoHRE then grants a Pre-Approval Work Permit and issues the Employment Entry Visa, which allows the employee to travel to the UAE. It is valid for 60 days, during which the employee must complete all other formalities.
- Within 14 days of the employee’s arrival to the UAE, the employer must submit the employment contract to MoHRE and apply for the employee’s Residence Visa and a health check. This allows the employee to receive their Emirates ID card.
- After the medical screening and receiving the Emirates ID Card, which includes details of the residence visa, the work permit can be formalised.
3. What Are the Needed Documents to Issue a UAE Work Permit?
Here are the documents required to issue a new UAE work permit:
- A coloured picture with a white backdrop
- A photocopy of a passport valid for at least 6 months
- The ministry’s formal employment offer form, signed by both the employer and the employee.
- The academic documentation required is based on the profession’s skill level:
- Skill levels 1 and 2: A bachelor’s degree or higher is needed
- Skill levels 3 and 4: A high school diploma is needed
- Skill levels 6 to 9: No certificate needed
- Workers who earn less than AED 4000/month or who do not have a degree are not considered skilled.
- Professional license issued by the competent UAE authority. For example, doctors and nurses need a professional license from the Ministry of Health (DHA in Dubai and HAAD in Abu Dhabi).
- Nationals from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran must provide a readable and clear photocopy of both sides of their current national ID issued by their home nations.
4. How Can an Employer Check the UAE Work Permit Application Status?
Visit the MoHRE Inquiry website, select the “Application Status” service and enter the application number.
5. What Are the Conditions for Issuing a UAE Work Permit?
To receive the initial approval of the work permit in the UAE, the employer and employee must satisfy some essential criteria:
- The employee must be older than 18 years of age (unless the work permit is for a juvenile, training, or student employment)
- The profession of the employee must be in line with the activity of the employer’s establishment
- The establishment’s trade license must be valid with no violations on it
- The employee must meet the requirements specifiedin the regulations for specialised professions or positions requiring a license to practice the profession
- The work permit application should be submitted by the legally authorised signatory on behalf of the employer.
Additionally, the MoHRE may not issue, renew, or revoke work permits if the employer:
- Presents false documentation
- Is fraudulent or fails to carry out their registered activities
- Violates the ‘Wages Protection System’ or any other system that governs the domestic labour market.
6. How Much Does a UAE Work Permit Cost?
The cost of a work permit in the UAE ranges from AED 250 to AED 3,450, depending on the work permit type and the company’s classification.
In addition, MoHRE established a 3-tier classification system to categorise companies in the UAE. This classification is based on how well companies adhere to the new UAE labour laws, with tier 1 being the most compliant and tier 3 being the least.
For residence permit holders, here is the cost of issuing the different types of work permits:
|Type of Work Permit||Cost in AED|
|Event Work Permit||50|
|Part Time Work Permit||50|
|Temporary Work Permit||50|
|Worker test permit||50|
|Work permit for residence holders||50|
|A worker permit for holders of residency or self-employment for a period of two years||250|
For those without a UAE residence and need a work permit to travel to the UAE or wish to renew the permit, the cost is as follows in AED:
|Type of Work Permit||Category 1||Category 2||Category 3|
|Work permit for two years||250||1,200||3,450|
|Work assignment work permit||250||250||250|
|Renewal of a work permit for two years||250||1,200||3,450|
|Amendment of the employment contract||50||50||50|
|Permit to transfer a worker from one facility to another||50||50||50|
7. How Can an Employer Cancel a Work Permit in the UAE?
The process of cancelling a work permit includes some basic steps that the employer must follow to ensure the completion of the cancellation, which are:
- Apply a cancellation request for the work permit
- Complete the necessary information and data
- Pay any fines associated with delaying the work permit’s issuance or its non-renewal
- Submit their acknowledgement that they have paid the employee all their dues.
Please note that when cancelling a work permit, the worker’s signature must be on the permit cancellation form.
1. Can I Work Without a Work Permit in UAE?
According to the UAE Labour Law, it is illegal to work in the UAE without a valid work permit issued by MoHRE. It is a serious issue and shouldn’t be taken lightly because if you work without a work permit, you risk deportation or being banned by the state.
Furthermore, without the proper paperwork to prove your employment, you cannot claim your rights as an employee.
2. Do I Need a Work Permit If I have a Golden Visa in the UAE?
Yes, even if you have a Golden Visa, you still need a work permit to work in the UAE, as this is a necessary requirement for all workers in the UAE.
3. Where Can I Find my UAE Work Permit Number?
You can find your labour card or work permit number on your labour card.
4. How Long Is the Validity of a UAE Work Permit?
A work permit in the UAE is valid for up to 2 years, and it can be renewed.
5. How Long Does it Take to Process the UAE Work Permit?
The average processing time for a UAE work permit is from 5 to 7 days after the employment contract has been signed and submitted, along with the other required paperwork.
Now that you have all the key information on UAE work permits, be sure to check out Property Finder’s guide for employment contracts before you start any new job here.