The UAE is a prominent country in the Persian Gulf with advanced modern infrastructure, transportation, and communication systems. This nation is welcoming not only to tourists but also to expatriates. It's no coincidence that out of the 10 million people living in the country, only 1.5 million are native Emiratis. Some people come here to work, while others come to live, enjoying the beautiful beaches, world-class shopping, and high-quality services. The Emirates is a sought-after destination for entrepreneurs thanks to its excellent business conditions.
When relocating to the Emirates, foreigners opt for various cities, and one of the most popular destinations is the capital, Abu Dhabi. It boasts the magnificent Yas Waterworld water park, the Ferrari World theme park, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Nearby, in Al Ain city, there is an oasis recognized as an agricultural heritage system by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
It is not difficult to move to this area because in Abu Dhabi, as in the entire UAE, it is relatively easy to obtain a residence permit. It is issued for different periods, ranging from one to three years on a regular sponsored visa, and for five or 10 years on an unsponsored golden visa.
The term of the residence permit for family members coincides with the term of the residence permit for the main resident. However, regardless of the validity period of the residence visa, it will eventually expire. If a foreigner wishes to continue staying in the Emirates, they will need to renew their residence visa and update their resident's ID card. We will guide you through the process, detail the fees you will be required to pay, provide information on where to apply, and explore the possibility of completing the entire process online.
- What Will Happen If the Residence Permit Is Not Renewed?
- General Procedure for a Residence Permit Renewal
- Residence Visa Renewal for Domestic Workers
- Family Visa Renewal
- Employment Visa Renewal
- Student Visa Renewal
- Investor or Partner Visa Renewal
- Peculiarities of Residence Visa Renewal in Certain Cases
- Emirates ID Renewal
- Cancellation of a Residence Visa
- What to Do If Your Tourist Visa Has Expired?
What Will Happen If the Residence Permit Is Not Renewed?
You can enter the UAE on a renewable entry permit, which residents of many countries can apply for upon arrival. However, such a visa significantly limits a person's abilities. In contrast, a residence visa (a residence permit) provides access to:
- All banking services in the UAE. Residents can easily open an account in any bank in the country.
- Access to Emirati loans.
- A local driver’s licence.
- Public health services and insurance.
- Public and private education options for children.
- Employment and investment opportunities.
New buildings in the UAE
In most cases, the residence visa can be renewed after it expires, and there is typically a grace period provided. Depending on the type of residence visa, this grace period for staying in the country without facing eviction and fines can extend up to six months. Staying in the Emirates without a valid residence permit can result in a fine of 50 AED ($14) for each day of residence in the country after the grace period ends. Additionally, there are other potential negative consequences, including possible arrest and deportation.
This can be avoided if the residence visa is renewed in a timely manner. A few simple steps will allow you to continue living legally in Abu Dhabi without incurring fines.
However, there is no need to rush. UAE law permits the early renewal of a residence visa, but this is typically granted only in exceptional cases with legitimate reasons. It will necessitate special permission and approval from the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP). Early renewal, in this context, refers to applying for a residence visa renewal one month before its expiry. The maximum period for which you can apply in advance to the ICP is six months.
General Procedure for a Residence Permit Renewal
In Abu Dhabi, as well as throughout the UAE, there are various types of residence visas, and consequently, each of them has its own renewal procedure. However, there are some general rules that apply to all cases. Firstly, there are requirements for the applicant, who must:
- Hold a passport with a validity period of at least six months.
- Comply with the UAE law requirements specific to the type of service, such as providing medical insurance. Additionally, they must undergo a medical examination, which is a standard procedure when obtaining an initial work and residence permit. This includes proving the absence of HIV for all foreigners, and certain categories of workers being tested for syphilis and hepatitis B. Female domestic workers are also required to provide a negative pregnancy test. In Abu Dhabi, a chest X-ray confirming the absence of tuberculosis is mandatory. Since 2016, all resident foreigners must repeat this examination when renewing their residence visas. If they have scars, an active disease, or drug-resistant tuberculosis, they will not be deported from the UAE. Instead, the applicants will be granted a one-year residence visa with a conditional fitness certificate and will be obligated to undergo treatment.
- Pay the statutory fees. An expat is required to pay 100 AED ($27) for the application, 150 AED ($41) for issuing a residence visa, and 150 AED ($41) for eChannel services. Additionally, there may be other additional fees depending on the type of residence visa.
You can apply for a residence visa renewal online through the special electronic service eChannel or via the website of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security (ICP). In Abu Dhabi, it is also possible to obtain and renew a residence visa through licensed typing centres. These centres handle the application printing and processing through the Department of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi.
The exception is the residence visa for domestic workers, which is obtained by the employer. In this case, the employer must go through the Tadbeer service, responsible for the selection of domestic personnel.
For other applicants, it is more convenient to use dedicated mobile applications. In the UAE, these applications are available for all operating systems. By opting for this method, a foreigner can submit their application at any time, day or night. The process involves registering in the system, selecting the appropriate service, completing a form, uploading documents, and paying the fee. Afterward, you will only need to await application approval and receive your UAE resident card (Emirates ID).
Individuals who prefer to apply in person should visit the nearest typing centre. Upon arrival, they will receive a queue ticket. Subsequently, they are required to submit their application along with the necessary documents to a customer service representative and make the applicable payments.
The time for consideration of the application is 48 hours in all cases.
Residence Visa Renewal for Domestic Workers
Citizens and residents of the UAE have the privilege of hiring foreign domestic and household workers. As previously mentioned, this process can be facilitated through Tadbeer, a service centre that assists in hiring various roles such as nurses, maids, cooks, security guards, private teachers, and coaches, among others. Resident employers are required to pay a fee of 5,000 AED ($1,360) for Tadbeer services and candidate selection, in addition to an insurance fee of 2,000 AED ($545). It's worth noting that citizens of the UAE and Persian Gulf countries are exempt from these payments.
Tadbeer also facilitates the process of obtaining and renewing residence visas for domestic staff. Consequently, when the residence visa of domestic workers expires, the employer should approach Tadbeer to initiate its extension. Required documents for this procedure include copies of the sponsor's and employee's passports, a medical certificate, an application for a new Emirates ID, and medical insurance.
Family Visa Renewal
Residents of the UAE can sponsor foreign family members to join them in the country. Spouses, children, and in certain cases, other relatives can obtain a residence visa, with the duration depending on the sponsor's category, which can include:
- Residents working in the private sector or free zones.
- Residents employed in the public sector.
- Citizens of the UAE or the Persian Gulf countries.
To renew a residence visa for their relatives, sponsors need to provide the following documents:
- A recent 4.5x3.5 cm colour photograph of the applicant.
- A copy of the applicant’s passport.
- A medical certificate (required for individuals over 18 years old).
- A copy of the sponsor's passport with a valid residence permit.
- Proof of medical insurance.
In addition, depending on the situation, the applicant may need:
A resident working in the private sector or free zone
A resident employed in the public sector
Citizens of the UAE and the Persian Gulf countries
Employment contract. A bank statement from the resident's account for the last three months. A registered lease agreement or a title deed in the name of the resident.
A salary certificate. A registered lease agreement or a title deed in the name of the resident.
No additional documents are required.
A registered lease agreement or a title deed in the name of the resident. A financial guarantee of 3,000 AED ($817) per person.
Employment Visa Renewal
To renew this type of residence visa, you will need a recent colour photo measuring 4.5x3.5 cm with a white background, a medical certificate and insurance, as well as a copy of your passport. The employees of the private (non-governmental) sector will need a labour card or a printout of a labour card as well.
In addition, the foreigner must provide a statement from his employer confirming that he is still employed.
Student Visa Renewal
To renew the student visa, in addition to the standard documents (copies of a passport, a medical certificate, an application, photos measuring 4.5x3.5 cm, and insurance), the applicant must provide a letter from the educational institution confirming their ongoing enrollment.
Investor or Partner Visa Renewal
Renewing this type of residence visa is the easiest, requiring only a standard set of documents, which includes a 4.5x3.5 cm photo, a copy of the passport, a medical certificate, and insurance.
Peculiarities of Residence Visa Renewal in Certain Cases
In addition to the cases mentioned above, Abu Dhabi has a special procedure for widowed or divorced women and their children who need to renew their residence visas. This situation typically applies to individuals living in the country on a family visa, where the validity of the residence permit is linked to the spouse's permit. Normally, the dissolution of a marriage would lead to the cancellation of the residence visa. However, the UAE government has provisions to address the needs of women and children in such situations.
Therefore, widows or divorcees have the right to apply for the renewal of their residence visa for themselves and their children. If they have housing and a source of income, they can stay in the UAE. A medical certificate (which only applies to adults) and insurance are also necessary. The fee is standard and equals 100 AED ($27). This residence visa can only be renewed once and for no more than one year. Similarly, the child’s stay in the country should not exceed the period established for their mother.
Using this benefit is only possible if a woman had a valid residence visa at the moment of her spouse’s death or divorce.
Another exception to the standard rule is the renewal of a residence visa for children who have completed their studies at a local school in Abu Dhabi or have reached the age of 18. They can stay in the country if their parents provide them an allowance. This residence visa is renewed for a year, with the possibility of an additional extension for the same period. Thus, children who have reached the age of majority or have graduated from school in the UAE can extend their stay in the country for another two years. After that, they will have to either obtain another residence visa or leave. The fees in this case are standard and amount to 100 AED ($27) per year for each year of stay.
Photo: EvaL MiKo (Vecteezy)
Obtaining such a residence permit will require a school graduation certificate and a financial guarantee of 5,000 AED ($1,361). The specified payment is a deposit that is refunded to the applicant after a change in their status, such as obtaining a new residence permit or leaving the country.
One more interesting case is when the permit holder has been living outside the UAE for six months or more. In this case, the residence permit is cancelled. However, if such a person can prove that they have a valid reason for their absence, they will be granted permission to re-enter. For example, if a foreigner has left for medical treatment, education, or military service abroad, they will need to provide the relevant certificates.
A former resident must apply through smartservices.icp.gov.ae to obtain an entry permit. The application must include evidence that they were out of the country for a legitimate reason. For every 30 days or less that they have spent abroad, they will be charged an absence fee of 100 AED ($27).
Leaving the country for six months may not result in the termination of the residence visa. There are some exceptions that allow a foreigner to stay abroad for more than six months and maintain the validity of their residence permit. A residence visa is not cancelled for:
- Wives of UAE citizens.
- Domestic helpers accompanying UAE citizens who have gone abroad for medical treatment or study.
- Members of diplomatic and consular missions.
- Assistants of members of the ruling families working in the homes of the royal family abroad.
- Migrants working for the public sector and sent abroad by their employers for official matters.
- Holders of investor visas.
- Residents sponsored by UAE diplomatic and consular representatives and their dependents.
Emirates ID Renewal
The Emirates ID is a biometric identity card issued to all residents and citizens of the UAE. Along with the renewal of the residence visa, you need to update this card. This can only be done after obtaining a residence permit, as one of the requirements for issuing such a card is a valid residence visa.
You can apply through e-services, typing centres, and Customer Happiness Centres (“Happiness Centres”).
The fees for issuing a resident's card are as follows:
- 100 AED ($27) per application.
- 40 AED ($11) as a service fee.
- 30 AED ($8) for printing a document.
- 150 AED ($41) for an urgent service fee. This service is only available in "Happiness Centres."
Processing an application for the issuance of an Emirates ID takes five days.
Cancellation of a Residence Visa
Individuals holding family or employment visas who choose to leave the UAE for more than six months without valid reasons must cancel their residency status. In such cases, it is the responsibility of their sponsors, whether it be an employer or a family member who initially invited them to the country, to submit the necessary applications for cancellation.
Additionally, the employer must initiate the cancellation process by applying for the termination of the employment contract, labour card, and work permit with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
The employee must also sign the application for the cancellation of these documents. Subsequently, the employer submits a visa cancellation application to the ICP (Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security).
What to Do If Your Tourist Visa Has Expired?
In this case, it is not necessary to leave Abu Dhabi because visit visas can be renewed for another 30 days, regardless of the validity period of the previous visa. Such renewals are possible twice, allowing you to stay in the UAE for up to 120 days in total.
However, it is essential to complete all the formalities in a timely manner, as you will be required to pay a fine of 50 AED ($14) for every day of illegal stay. Additionally, at the airport, violators will face a charge ranging from 250 AED to 350 AED ($68 to $95).
Holders of certain visas are granted a 10-day grace period for extension; however, this is an exception rather than the rule. In general, fines are imposed as soon as the validity period ends.
You can apply for a visa renewal through all ICP services, the TASHEEL Service Centre, as well as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs throughout the emirate.
The standard renewal fee is 600 AED ($163). Additional fees may also apply.
In a Nutshell
The renewal of a residence visa in Abu Dhabi is a straightforward and cost-effective procedure. The required documents may vary depending on the type of the residence visa. You can initiate the visa renewal process online, and there is a fee of 100 AED ($27) for the application and for each year of the residence visa's validity.
Most residence visas, as well as some visit visas, offer a grace period for renewal after their expiration. However, it is advisable to renew your stay in the country on time to avoid incurring a fine of 50 AED ($14) for each day of delay. Additionally, the renewal procedure is straightforward and cost-effective.
However, if a person intends to leave the UAE permanently, they will need to cancel their residence visa first.