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Girl in the Gulf...

Published: 29 Mar 2017

My visa journey

Move to Dubai they said, it’ll be fun they said - and to be fair for the most part they were right.

My primary focus has been to get my residence visa and Emirates ID (EID) - let me tell you can’t do anything, without these 2 items. So I thought I would share my visa application experience.

Your company will have to sponsor your visa and should have a PRO (Public Relations Officer) who handles your application.  I was really fortunate, as our company PRO was on top of things every step,    but needless to say it still took a bit of time and we had a couple of hiccups.


In order to apply for your residence visa your PRO will need the following:

  • signed employment contract (this held up my application as we had a bit of back and forth negotiating so I was here for a couple of weeks before I signed my contract)
  • obviously your name and date of birth, which is pretty standard, the other questions I got asked were my husband’s full name and my father’s full name
  • colour copy of your passport
  • standard passport photos (minimum of 2) on a white background


A week or so after my application was submitted I got my temporary employment visa. I then had to take a hard copy of the temporary visa plus another 2 passport photos and my original passport to the Al Baraha Hospital (which is the government hospital in Dubai) where you go for your medical tests and biometrics for your EID. 

It is very organised and the process flows smoothly, I had read nightmare stories about how long it would take, but the whole process took me about an hour. I was seen immediately - the young guy filled out the relevant paperwork, attached one photo to my visa application form and stuck a sticker with a barcode on the back of the second photo, processed my EID application and told me to head off to my medical.

Medical is stretching it, all you need is an x-ray and a blood test. There are security guards at each stage who direct you to where you need to go and being a woman definitely has its perks - you get to see a lady doctor and the queues are way shorter. As a lady in her mid-forties who has long since had her family, the persistent questioning about whether or not I was pregnant did make me smile. X-rays are at gate 4 and blood tests are gate 5. Once you’ve done this you go onto do biometrics, which is digital fingerprinting, another photo (so make sure you’re photo ready) and your signature - all of which you will see again on your EID. Results are normally turned around in a couple of days, I did mine on Thursday and picked them up the following Tuesday.


Things to note:

  • if you are planning on driving to the hospital there is plenty of free parking there
  • any interactions with government departments (and banks) it’s been my experience to always look for the ticket machine, and get a ticket
  • my application cost AED 690 which is for 3 years, so make sure you take cash with you
  • the blood tests are testing for HIV and Hepatitis C, and the x-ray is for TB so if you have any of those, you may come unstuck
  • don’t lose the second photo as you will need to hand this in when you go back to collect your results
  • collect your results from counter 9 (on this occasion you don’t need a ticket).


Ok, so then medical results and passport are handed over to my PRO who I assume goes to the relevant government department to get my visa approved and put in my passport - simple right? For anyone who knows me, it’s never that simple. . . . I get a call from my PRO saying I had to go to the immigration office at the airport and get the file reference number of my original entry into the country, I think I confused things by going to Qatar during my application process which meant a different entry date to my original application. I got the file number (after getting my ticket and waiting in the queue) again fairly smooth process, and handed it over. A week later I had my visa stuck in my passport and valid for 3 years.

During the visa process your EID is also being processed and they ask for a UAE mobile number, so they can send you texts with updates on the progress. Literally within half an hour of getting my visa in my passport I got a text saying my EID was ready for collection. The text message will tell you which post office to go to and again they have the ticket system, so grab your ticket wait in line and pick up your card easy peesy - took me about 10 minutes from start to finish.


So there you have it, the marathon that is visa and EID application in Dubai!

Final things to note and check:

  • I’ve been told if you are not a graduate you can’t get a Dubai visa, but should be able to get an Abu Dhabi visa (may well be urban myth or hearsay)
  • a wife cannot sponsor her husband on an Abu Dhabi visa
  • you can get a temporary UAE mobile number as a tourist
  • at the visa application process they ask for a mobile number, when I did my application recently their system was not set up to accept newer mobile numbers so make sure you have an alternate number - anything 056 and below should be fine (mine is 058)
  • Luckily the EID process does accept 058 as you will absolutely need this to track your application.


Watch out for next month’s instalment- moving house in Dubai!


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