Can I Work in the UAE while Carrying a Tourist Visa?

Tourist visas and working visas are two separate visas you need to be aware of. Tourist visa has a short-term validity and it should only be used when you are visiting the UAE for a short period of time or for a ‘holiday’. Meanwhile, a working visa is fit for the purpose of working in the country.

If you are currently here in the UAE bearing your tourist visa and you want to start working here, there are a couple of things that you should know before you take your next step. In this article, you will know everything about it.

Expats should always be reminded that a tourist visa is only for visiting purposes. Prior to the expiry of your visa, you can apply for an extension or exit the country. Once the expiration date has passed, you need to leave the country immediately or else, the UAE authorities will impose fines and penalties for overstaying.

For all expats out there—working in the UAE with a tourist visa is illegal. If you want to learn more about it, check this article out.

Am I allowed to work in the UAE with a tourist visa?

NO, you should not work in the UAE with a tourist visa. This is illegal and you can be fined 50,000 AED if you will be caught. To avoid this, there is one thing that you need to do—you should process the documents you need before you work once you get employed. That’s the basic step to start working in the UAE. Before you report to work, make sure that you are coordinating with your employer to process all the paperwork.

Can I search for a job in the UAE with my tourist visa?

When you arrive in the UAE with a tourist visa, there is nothing wrong if you search for jobs in the country. The UAE doesn’t impose any strict rules or regulations regarding this. Compared to other nations that will prohibit you to search for work, in the UAE, you are free to do so. However, be reminded that once you got a job, you need to convert your visa into a working visa to avoid any inconvenience on your part.

What happens if I work in the UAE with a tourist visa or without a working visa?

If you choose to work in the UAE with a tourist visa, you are putting yourself at risk because it is illegal. There will also be a penalty fine of 50,000 AED. Plus, you might be banned from entering the UAE again. You and the employer will face penalties for doing this.

Another thing, if you do work while on a tourist visa, you will not get any “employee rights” because you don’t have an employment visa. So should you have any issues with your employer, such as not getting any salary or you encounter problems, you cannot go to the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MOHRE) to complain about it because you are technically “not employed”.

Reasons Why Employers Will Ask You To Work Prior To Getting Your Working Visa

There may be valid reasons why your employer will ask you to work prior to getting your working visa. First, your employer may ask you to work even without a working visa because he doesn’t want to waste time.

Your employer may ask you to work while they are processing your employment papers. After all, some employers need the help of additional employees immediately. And since it can take time to process the working and residency visa, they tend to ask their new employees to start right away while waiting for the papers.

If you can observe, those reasons seem valid since your employer is already processing the legal papers. However, in the eyes of the law, your employer is asking you to work without a visa and it is illegal.

Why do you think an employer will ask you to work without proper and legal documents? Some of them don’t want to pay you with the right compensation. When you work without an employment visa, your employers know that you can’t raise any dispute for the reason that the authorities will catch you working without a working visa.

In this case, you will not have anything to back you up when you want to complain. You will be left with a choice to accept the wrong amount of compensation, or not be compensated for your work at all.

Employers who ask you to work without a proper visa also have the advantage of eliminating your employee rights because the logic is simple—if you are not registered as a worker and you don’t have a working visa, you are not entitled to employee rights.

What should you do to avoid trouble?

UAE law is straightforward. All you have to do is to comply. Here are the basic things you need to do to avoid all kinds of trouble regarding tourist and working visa.

  • Look for UAE jobs in a subtle way while your tourist visa has not expired.
  • After securing a job, let your employer know that you only have a tourist visa so he can start processing your legal documents.
  • Wait for the documents to be processed. Ask your employer to give you copies of the working and residency visa before you report to work.
  • If you are still waiting for your visas, follow up your employer if necessary.
  • Do not work without an employment visa even if your employer asks you to do so.
  • Report to work after you receive your original employment and residency visa.

Tourist and working visas are two important documents when you are traveling to the UAE. But, keep in mind that they have a different purposes. You have to ensure that you understand everything about these visas to save yourself from abusive employers. If you know someone who is currently in the search for a job in the country, don’t forget to share this with them.

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