What is the difference between UAE Entry Permit and Residence Visa

Entry permits and residence visas in the UAE are often being interchanged. There are expats who think that an entry visa is enough to enter and stay in the UAE until their employment contract expires. Little did they know that there is still a need for a residence visa to stay in the country for as long as they need it. So, if you are an expat in the UAE, you should know the difference between UAE entry permit and residence visa or else, you will encounter issues in the future if you are caught not having both.

Also Read: Immigration Ban, Labour Ban, Permanent Ban and Other Bans in UAE

Entry permit and residence visa are two different documents you need to apply for before you go to the UAE. And even after getting your first job, you will need to keep both especially if you are planning to work here for a longer period of time. Keep in mind that there are consequences when you don’t follow the rule.

Some of the issues you will likely encounter is getting deported because of the lack of documents to stay in the UAE and paying fines for getting your permits and visa late. If you don’t want to face these kinds of issues, it’s better to know as early as now what are the purposes of these two important documents.

Different Between UAE Entry Permit and Residence Visa

To give you a short description of the difference between entry permit and residence visa, an entry permit is considered as a document that permits expats to enter and stay legally in the UAE for a short period of time while a residence visa is given to the expat once he/she enters the country using the entry permit.

What is an Entry Permit in the UAE?

An entry permit is typically issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in the UAE. This document states the period of time when an expat can legally stay within the country. This may be issued in a written form or an electronic copy. There will be cases that you need to apply for an entry permit before you fly in the country or you can get it once you arrive in the UAE.

Who will pay for the Entry Permit?

If you are going to the UAE with a sponsor, your sponsor will be the one to manage all the transactions needed to get the entry permit. This will be done through the online and offline channels of GDRFA. Your sponsor could be your employer, the private sector company you are working for, a public entity, a relative in the UAE, a UAE-based airline, and similar roles.

What are the types of Entry Permit?

Entry permits vary and it depends on your reason for entering the UAE. Basically, there are 6 entry permits in the UAE. One for

  1. employment,
  2. family visit,
  3. tourism/transit,
  4. treatment,
  5. mission, and
  6. attending conferences

Do entry permits have expiration dates?

Yes, entry permits have validity dates. An expiration date is a period within which the entry permit must be utilized. Whether you use the land borders, seaports, or airports, you are allowed to enter the country within the said period.

In general, entry permits have validity dates of 2 months. An expat can’t extend the validity of the entry permit. It will expire automatically after the period stated in the document.

It’s also important to note that the expiration dates of entry permits differ depending on the type. For instance, a person with entry permit for transit can only stay in the country within 4 days and a person with employment entry permit is allowed to stay in the UAE for 2 months. During the 2-month period, the employee should be given a residence visa to continue his/her stay.

The employer is responsible to apply for the residence visa. If this is not followed and the employee hasn’t changed his/her status to a resident, he/she will be asked to leave the country immediately. Else, he/she will pay the equivalent fines and face the charges.

If you are an expat in the UAE with unexpired entry permit, make sure to communicate this with your employer to avoid trouble.


The UAE has recently passed new provisions with regards to visit visa and entry permits. Starting from October 21, 2018, ALL VISIT VISA AND ENTRY PERMITS CAN NOW BE EXTENDED FOR 30 DAYS TWICE. This is applicable even if you don’t leave the country.

The renewal fee is AED 600. Visitors and tourists can apply for the second renewal before the first renewal expires. So, every time a person renews his/her entry permit, he/she will need to pay AED 600.

If you will not renew after the expiration date of your entry permit, you will pay AED 100 fine for a day of overstay. This will start after 10 days of your entry permit expiry.

Note that the new provision is not applicable to visitors and tourists who are residents in GCC countries, people who have a 96-hour permit for special missions, residents who are with the GCC nationals, and people with special entry permits.

What is a Residence Visa in the UAE?

Compared to an entry permit issues before or during the entrance to the country, a residence visa is given to expats after he/she arrives in the country using an entry permit. Sponsors will be the ones to apply for the residence visas of the expats but they need to pass the requirements of GDRFA.

What is needed for a residence visa?

You will be required to undergo a medical test to prove that you are medically fit to stay in the country. You need to pass the security check as well.

Do residence visas have expiration dates?

Yes, there are validity dates for residence visas. The validity date depends on the type of residence visa and the sponsor. It can last for 1, 2, of 3 years.

Once you have your residence visa, the GDRFA will attach a residence visa on your passport to allow you to travel freely in and out of the UAE considering the period of your visa. Your travel time should not exceed 6 months if you don’t want your residence visa to be canceled automatically.

Now that you have an idea of what’s the difference between an entry permit and a residence visa, there is no need to interchange these two terms anymore. You can now distinguish which is which. Make sure to remember the validity dates of your visas to avoid paying penalties.

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