Family Visa UAE with Partner Sponsorship

Last Update 12 January 2012
by Diya Ayu

According to a Gulf News "Ask The Law" report 12 January 2012, the conditions specified by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the UAE under which a wife can sponsor her husband (which are different for those for a husband sponsoring his wife) are:
  • The wife should be employed as a doctor, engineer, or teacher
  • Minimum salary should be AED 3,000 if accommodation provided, or AED 4,000 if accommodation not provided.
  • An attested marriage certificate and labour contract needs to be supplied. If salary between AED 3,000 and AED 4,000 then a tenancy contract also.
  • For husbands working in different professions, an application for an exemption from the profession requirement needs to be made to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, and the minimum salary should be AED 10,000 without accommodation or AED 9,000 with accommodation.

General information about sponsoring a spouse in the UAE
Married couples can sponsor each other for a residence visa in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and the rest of the UAE. Note that the sponsorship is only for a residence visa which is not the same as an employment visa / work permit / labour card. If the spouse is working, then s/he is supposed to get a work permit from the employer. It is not uncommon for spouses to work (usually part-time) without a labour card but be aware that s/he will not have any rights should there be a dispute between the employee and the employer, and there is potential for problems (fines, labour ban, deportation) if found out. There are some restrictions when applying to sponsor your wife or husband.
  • Husband can sponsor their wife whether she is employed or not, and no matter what his occupation is (except in Sharjah which have funny restrictions on which occupations are permitted to sponsor their families).
  • The sponsor must have a salary of at least AED 4,000 per month, or AED 3,000 if the company provides accommodation. This may have increased to AED 5,000 or 6,000 per month without accommodation and AED 4,000 with accommodation in 2009 (check with the immigration department). There was a proposal by the Federal National Council (FNC) in December 2008 that the minimum salary should be increased to AED 8,000 and AED 10,000 per month. Update: according to press reports 01 July 2009, this change to minimum AED 10,000 per month will be implemented (unknown when), but possible exceptions for humanitarian cases could be made (ask at immigration department).
  • Wives can only sponsor their husbands if she is in a restricted list of professions for example teacher, doctor, engineer or equivalent. She must have a minimum salary of AED 5,000. Dubai rules might be more flexible on occupation if the wife is earning more than AED 10,000 (check with the DNRD).
  • People in de-facto relationships cannot sponsor their partners - a marriage certificate is required. It probably wouldn't be advisable to even try since it is illegal for unmarried couples to live together in Dubai.
  • Muslim expatriates with more than one wife can only sponsor one of them for a residence visa (Gulf News 28 October 2007).
  • Wives under the age of 25 might need special permission from the Director General of the immigration department (not confirmed).
There may be some flexibility in how these rules are applied, depending on which emirate you're in, what nationality you are or what country your passport comes from, how much you earn, your profession, the time of day, and how much wasta you have. Women who don't fit the criteria above could apply at the relevant immigration department for special dispensation to sponsor their husbands. Alternatively, trade up to a newer model husband who already has a job and a sponsor.

Deposit for sponsoring family members in UAE
  • The immigration department requires that residents in some occupation categories put down a deposit of AED 5,000 for each family member sponsored, including spouse and children.
  • Complete list of occupations not supplied but it's likely to be ones that pay lower salaries in UAE.
Sponsoring children for residence visas in Dubai and UAE
  • Daughters who are unmarried can be sponsored by a parent. Married daughters can be sponsored by their employer, educational institute if studying, or husband. Age limit for sponsorship of unmarried daughters is unknown or there isn't one. Check with the immigration department in the emirate which will issue the visa. Up to age 25 should be no problem at least.
  • Sons up to the age of 16 can be sponsored by a parent, or up to 18 if they are a full-time student. If males are over 18 and want to study full-time in the UAE then check that the education institute can sponsor them for a student's residence visa.
  • Parents of step-children will need permission from the biological father or guardian for sponsorship. If that is not possible, check with the immigration department what documents are needed.
Documents required for spouse and family residence permit
  • Application form - from typist at DNRD or relevant UAE visa processing department.
  • 2 photographs of spouse (but bring a couple of extra photos).
  • Original entry permit of spouse (e.g. visit visa, tourist visa)
  • Original passports of sponsor, spouse and other family members being sponsored.
  • Original valid medical certificate
  • Copy of the sponsor's employment contract or salary certificate
  • Copy of the sponsor's valid residence permit
  • Copy of sponsor's e-gate card in Dubai (unconfirmed if this is necessary)
  • Residence contract in name of sponsor or close relative if applying at Sharjah Naturalisation & Residency Department (SNRD), attested by the Sharjah Municipality (Gulf News 11 August 2008). This apparently does not apply to professional workers on higher salaries.
  • Health insurance for spouse (might not be required, or required in Abu Dhabi only).
Document list based on information on DNRD website. A marriage certificate (or birth certificate for children) is not specified but bring one anyway. It will need to be attested in home country or country of marriage (relevant marriage court or authority > UAE embassy in country of marriage). Bring originals of all documents also, even if only a copy is specified. Expect to to make two trips to the visa processing office - the first to find out what additional documents you need to bring.
Procedure to arrange husband / wife visa
  • Spouse should go to medical clinic to do blood test and x-ray.
  • Spouse and sponsor go to immigration department typing center with all documents - pay fees and get application form filled in.
  • Typing center will direct you to the next counter.
Fees are AED 300 for a 3 year residence permit (AED 100 per year) + 10 dhs processing fee + 120 dhs if urgent processing required.
  • If your spouse overstays his/her entry permit before processing the residence visa, there will be fines of 25 dhs per day imposed (or more if that has changed).
  • It is not necessary to depart and re-enter the UAE when changing entry permit to residence visa.
Choosing between employer and spouses sponsorship for residence permit
If you have a choice, it's usually better for you to get a residence visa sponsored by your spouse in preference to your employer. Some employers may not like that but try anyway. Advantages are:
  • You are not, or less likely to be, subject to the automatic UAE labour ban if you resign (you might be if you break the labour law)
  • If you change jobs, you don't need to transfer sponsorship
Family residence visa Abu Dhabi
  • Abu Dhabi family residence visa sponsorship should be the same as the rest of the UAE but according to November 2005 reports in the Khaleej Times, Abu Dhabi residents needed either no minimum salary, or AED 2500/3200 minimum (with/without accommodation provided) to sponsor immediate family members, and immediate family members would be given 2 year visas (not 3 year visas).
  • Deposit of AED 5000 for each family member required, or AED 20,000 if the sponsor is holding a UAE investor visa.
  • Reports not confirmed by UAE government website (last checked 22 November 2005).
  • Check with the Abu Dhabi residence department for more information.