In a residency policy reform, the United Arab Emirates recently announced an easing of residency rules for expatriates and issuance of green visas to overhaul its economy and attract foreign talents. Now the country allows expatriates to reunite with their families who possess valid residency visas by allowing parents and relaxing the age limit of children.
Residency visa holders need to obtain approval from either the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) if visas are issued in Dubai or the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) for visas issued in other Emirates.
Foreign expatriates with a valid residency permit can now sponsor their families regardless of their job titles if they earn a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation. Medical fitness examination clearance is mandatory for everyone more than18 years old.
Type of profession as criteria of sponsoring immediate family members of expatriate residents was abolished in March 2019 and the income criteria were introduced. Now Expatriate husbands employed in the UAE can sponsor their immediate family members including their wife and children, subject to conditions that include a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation regardless of the type of profession.
Once a UAE resident father fulfils the conditions for sponsoring his children, the mother can sponsor them.
After the arrival of family members in the UAE and modifying their entry permit to residence permit, a resident has 60 days to apply for sponsoring the residence visas of immediate dependents.
Visas for family members are issued for a one, two or three years period based on the employment contract and capacity of employment as an employee or employer.
Normally one or two years visa validity applies to expatriate employees while an employer is issued a residency visa for three years.
The residence visa for parents and male children above 25 years of age is granted yearly and is independent of the visa duration of the sponsor.
The requirements change as the residency policy of the UAE government changes and can be tracked from the GDRFA or the FACI websites.
Both male and female family members above 18 years of age must undergo and clear the medical fitness tests at government-approved medical health and fitness centres in the UAE for the grant and renewal of residence visas.
Regardless of first-time issuance or renewal of visa, every applicant must undergo medical examinations for two communicable diseases including a blood test for HIV and chest x-ray for pulmonary tuberculosis.
Persons found to be HIV positive or infected with tuberculosis will be considered medically unfit and residence visas shall not be granted and immediate deportation will then be done by government authorities.
Dormant or inactive tuberculosis once diagnosed makes the residents liable to be declared medically unfit. They are granted a ‘Health Fitness Certificate for Residence’ for one year subject to medical treatment and follow-up by the Department of Preventive Medicine or equivalent health and fitness authority approved by the government. There are many health and fitness centres in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah that have several medical fitness centres and can be conveniently reached for fixing an appointment.
As an expatriate resident, you can sponsor the residence visa for your wife and children only when you satisfactorily meet all the above-mentioned sponsorship requirements set by the GDRFA.
Sponsoring your wife will need you, as an expatriate resident, to prove that a marital relationship exists by submitting an authenticated marriage certificate in the Arabic language online or along with the typed application form. A certified translator can also translate the marriage certificate into Arabic.
The same set of documents that you submitted for the entry permit is required while sponsoring your wife and children and include the following
The type of sponsor dictates the duration of residence visa and is issued for one, or two or three years. The renewal of a resident visa is subject to the same conditions applicable for fresh visas.
As the residence permits of family members and the resident sponsor are interlinked, any cancellation of the resident visa of the sponsor automatically cancels the visas of the dependents.
In such cases, a grace period of 30 days from the date of expiry or cancellation of their visa is allowed for obtaining a new residence permit. In case the sponsor cannot renew or cancel the visa of the family members, the dependents are not considered legal residents and would be fined.
The residence visa approval and issuance is a time-consuming process with many legalities involved. Secondly, the approvals are granted on a case to case basis and don’t always guarantee visa approval. It is highly recommended that you hire the best PRO services in Dubai for application submission, medical appointments and legal consultancies for facilitating the visa approval process.