18 Jun 2024

How to Get a Visa as a Software Engineer in Dubai

Getting a Work Visa as a Software Engineer in Dubai

Dubai is an attractive option for software developers.

As our Dubai Software Engineer Salary Calculator and article on the average salary for software engineers in Dubai show, salaries in Dubai are very generous. Combine this with no income-tax and year round sunshine, and it's easy to see why Dubai is so popular.

If you want to work as software programmer in Dubai however, you're going to need a work permit.

The specific rules for obtaining visas in the United Arab Emirates vary by Emirate. That means the process is a little different in Dubai than Abu Dhabi.

In this article, I explain the two main ways to get a software engineer visa in Dubai.

I also give an overview of the steps in each visa process, so you'll know what to expect.

In this article: πŸ“

The Two Main Visa Options

If you have a contract with a company with a presence in Dubai there are two main options for getting a visa. Employer Sponsored Work Visas and the Golden Visa program.

Employer-Sponsored Residence Visa

Most software developers moving to Dubai for work will obtain a residence visa sponsored by their employer.

This work or residence visa is what allows the engineer to live and work in Dubai.

This is by far the most common method for expats and programmers moving to Dubai.

In this situation, the employe will handle most of the visa application on your behalf.

Residence Visa: Key Facts

Duration: Typically these visas last for 2 years. Your employer will renew your visa for an additional two years when it expires.

Sponsored: The visa only allows you to work for your current employer. Once you quit your job your employer will notify immigration. This means you must find another employer, to remain in the UAE.

Cost: The standard work visa costs just under $1000 USD (3,300 AED). However, your employer should bear the cost. If your employer asks you to cover this cost yourself it's a red flag.

Overview: Obtaining the Residence Visa

Job Offer: Secure a job offer from a Dubai-based company. The employer will sponsor your employment visa.

Initial Approval: The employer will apply for an entry permit, which allows you to enter the UAE.

Medical Examination: Upon arrival in Dubai, you will need to undergo a medical examination.

Emirates ID: Apply for an Emirates ID, which is a mandatory identity card for all UAE residents. Your employer should you guide you throught this.

Labor Contract: Sign a labor contract with your employer, which will be registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

Residence Visa: The final step involves obtaining the residence visa, allowing you to live and work in Dubai. This visa is typically valid for 2 years and can be renewed.

Requirements for the Residence visa:

  • Passport: Valid for at least six months.
  • Passport-Sized Photos: Recent and against a white background.
  • Job Offer Letter: From a Dubai-based company.
  • Educational Certificates: Attested by relevant authorities.
  • Medical Test: To ensure you are free from communicable diseases.
  • Emirates ID: Application form and fee.

Golden Visa for IT Professionals

The other option for highly skilled software engineers is the Golden Visa program.

This program offers long-term residency for highly skilled professionals, including developers.

Unlike the employer-sponsored visa, the Golden Visa does not tie you to your current employer.

However, you're responsible for the application rather than your employer.

Golden Visa: Key Facts

Long-term Residency: The Golden Visa is valid for 5 or 10 years

Validity: You can stay outside the UAE for up to 180 days per year. Stays longer than this invalidate the visa.

Self-sponsored: With the Golden Visa you actually sponsor your own visa. You can then also sponsor any dependents, family members or even domestic helpers.

Cost: You'll need to pay around $1000 USD (4,000 AED) for your Golden Visa application. You'll also need to take a medical and officially translate documents. This can add an extra $1000-1500 in costs. However, the costs are quite low considering you may only have to pay once every 10 years.

Overview: Obtaining the Golden Visa

Location: In Dubai, you can apply for a Golden Visa using online services, as well as in person.

Document Submission: Provide necessary documents, including your passport, work contract, salary certificate, and degree certificates.

Medical Test: Book and complete your medical test at an authorized center.

Security Clearance: Submit your application to be reviewed for security clearance.

Await Approval: The processing time can vary, but you will be notified once your application is approved.

Receive Visa: Once approved, you will receive your Golden Visa.

Stay Informed

Visa regulations can change, so it’s important to stay updated with the latest requirements and procedures.

If you need more detailed information or assistance with a specific type of visa, it's useful to consult with a legal expert or a specialized visa service.


Both the employer-sponsored residence visa and the Golden Visa offer viable pathways for software engineers seeking to work in Dubai.

The choice between the two depends on your long-term goals and personal preferences.

The employer-sponsored visa is straightforward if you have a job offer, while the UAE Golden Visa provides greater flexibility and long-term benefits.

By understanding the processes and requirements, you can make an informed decision and successfully navigate the visa application process to start your career in Dubai.

In both cases you will need a job offer and a contract with a company in Dubai.

If you haven't got a job offer yet, then I recommend checking the latest job opportunities for software engineers in Dubai. I also provide guidance on finding the best software developer jobs here in Dubai and which organisations I think are the best companies to work for in Dubai.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general guidance only. Please do your own research and consult with a professional before making any decisions. We are not responsible for any actions taken based on this information.

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