How to Convert an Employment Visa into a Business Visa in the UAE?

You came to Dubai, got sponsored by a UAE-based company and started working here. As simple as that! You didn’t have to do anything to obtain your work permit, residence visa and emirates ID. Your employer made everything available to you. So far it was all a no-brainer for you! But now as you are planning to try your hands on business in your favourite country, things are not as simple as it was when you were working in Dubai as an employee but can be…if you are au courant with the process of switching from employment visa to business visa.

You can do business in Dubai only if you have a trade licence and a valid visa. The former allows you to commence a particular trade or business in a particular area/location of the UAE and the latter officially permits you to enter, leave or stay in the country for a specified time period. Both these documents are mandatory to open both local and foreign corporate bank accounts.

UAE Employment Visa vs. UAE Business Visa

Both employment and business visas give permission to foreign nationals to work in the UAE but while the first one allows them to work in UAE as a worker or employee, the second one empowers them to work in the country as an employer. Let’s get to know about them a little bit more.

UAE Employment Visa

An UAE Employment Visa allows a person from any part of the world to do a job under an employer either on the mainland or in the free zone. Securing a work visa involves UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate where a person is employed. Also known as pink visa, a UAE employment entry visa is an official document that is issued to a foreign national by the MoHRE upon request made by an entity registered in the UAE that is hiring the individual. Bearing the validity of 2 months which is extendable twice while the formal work permit is being approved, this permit enables the holder to legally enter and remain in the UAE for a period of 30 days while their employer applies for the residence visa on their behalf. A residence visa is granted to the foreigner when they are already inside the country having entered utilising the entry permit.

UAE Business Visa

Designed to invite entrepreneurs to invest in the UAE, a business visa on the other hand allows one to trade in UAE and to sponsor themselves and their family for long-term residency. Also sometimes called Dubai Partner Visa or Investor Visa, UAE Business Visa comes under the Golden Visa system which is structured to allow foreigners to obtain a long-term visa for themselves and their dependents. Dubai investor visa is applicable to foreign nationals who are willing to commence their own business or invest in an already established business in Dubai. The Dubai investor visa enables the holder to reside in the UAE, and to come and go as per their wish for the duration of the visa.

Transition From Job to Business in Dubai

Those who are already working in the UAE on the sponsorship provided by their employer should note that the process of cancelling an existing employment visa and applying for a new business visa takes considerable time. Nonetheless, knowing the time-consuming, tedious process up to the hilt makes the task a lot easier. So, keep reading to get acquainted with the process of converting an employment visa into a business visa. Here’s a primer guiding you on how you can convert your employment visa into a business visa.

Have Your Current Employment Visa Cancelled

To be eligible to apply for a new visa you’re required to cancel the existing one. Since the visa is sponsored by your employer, you have to have them place a request for visa cancellation to the issuing authority. The moment your employment visa gets cancelled, your employment will be terminated and you will get only 29 days’ grace period from the date of cancellation to stay in the country (provided the visa is still valid at the time of cancellation) and apply for the visa you desire. To avoid delay in visa application processing make sure you have no fines to pay if yes then clear your dues right away.

PS: Be informed that the grace period granted to the employee after termination of the employment contract might extend to 180 days according to the new labour law that has already come into effect this year (on February 2, 2022). However, it is still advisable to take your actions keeping the 28 days in mind as until June 2022 we have no confirmed information about it.

Acquire a New Entry Permit

On cancellation of the existing employment visa, you can apply for a “new entry permit”. This permit comes with a validity of 60 calendar days and is substantially a temporary employment visa.

Apply for Status Change/Status Adjustment’

‘Status change’ is a mandatory step to be taken before the grace period expires otherwise fines will be imposed by the UAE government. Also termed as ‘status adjustment’, status change’ basically is the procedure of reactivating the entry permit without physically exiting the country. In the event of overstayed visa, you will likely keep incurring a fine until the status change is done. Visa status change is done in the three ways as follows:

  • In-Country Status change
  • Out of Country Status Adjustment
  • Border Run

Be informed, during the process of activating a visa entry permit applicants can’t leave the UAE until their visas have been stamped.

Follow Steps Required to Obtain Emirates ID Card: Medical Examination + Biometrics

Issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Emirates ID is an identity card for the UAE’s citizens and residents and is a document you need to live and work in any emirate of the country while enjoying benefits that are provided to the residents only such as access to school, insurance, banking or anything that requires presenting an identification card. You can electronically apply for an Emirates ID. The process of getting an Emirates ID involves visiting an ID service centre to give your biometrics and getting a medical examination done.

Have Your Residence Visa Stamped

This is the final step of the way that takes you to start your own company in Dubai or any other emirate of the UAE. Get your residence visa stamped confirming that you are eligible to work and live in the UAE for a certain period. Once all the previous steps are duly performed, your passport will have a UAE residency visa stamp. Usually, the entire process of changing visas takes 1 months’ time to be completed. Remember that your visa may be invalidated if you are out of the country for more than 180 days in one shot. It’s important you visit the UAE every six months to keep your resident status active.

Dubai Is Your Turf Now!

After you get your business visa, you are free to conduct your business activity by opening a company in Dubai Mainland, Free Zone or Offshore or any location of your choice in the UAE. The sky’s the only limit if you’ve made up your mind to hop into UAE’s ocean of business from the well of your job. For any sort of business/investor visa or business setup assistance you may reach our qualified Dubai business advisors at Adam Global Dubai. We are happy to help you in every step of your entrepreneurial journey whether you are planning to start a real estate business, an e-commerce company, a beauty salon, grocery store, or a digital marketing firm. Please feel free to get in touch with us to book your free consultancy.

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