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Your Guide to Applying for Dubai Free Zone Visas with DMCC

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You have successfully established a new business in one of the UAE’s free zones, set the processes in motion, and want to grow your business with a new team. Whether you are hiring within the UAE (talent working at Dubai’s onshore location) or want to hire a foreign workforce, the Dubai Free Zone visa applications are relatively straightforward. 

However, with the pool of information available today, understanding the visa process, including eligibility, legalities, and expenses, can be overwhelming. 

Most free zone authorities limit the number of visas issued to each business. Companies can increase their visa quota by moving to bigger offices or requesting an increase, subject to the free zone authority’s approval.

This detailed blog will help you make an informed decision about the associated procedures, types of visas and eligibility requirements for each type of visa. 

What is a Free Zone Visa?

A free zone visa in the UAE allows you to operate within specific free zones, such as DMCC, in a tax-free environment where no customs duties or restrictions apply.

Benefits of a Free Zone Visa

A free zone visa boasts numerous benefits. A primary draw is that qualifying free zone persons can enjoy a low corporate tax on qualifying income, financial access, healthcare access, school registration, and more. The simplicity of registering gives it a compelling advantage for those considering setting up a business in the UAE.

Four Types of Dubai Residence Visas at DMCC

The process of visa application with DMCC is simple and straightforward. 

The visa quota set by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) depends on the office size you select. For example: 

  • Flexi desk: Up to 3 visas
  • Serviced office: 4 or 5 visas, depending on the size of the office
  • Physical space: 1 visa for every 9 square metres

However, a company’s visa quota may be eligible for an increase in some instances.

Free zone visas do not deal with the UAE Ministry of Labour. Each free zone authority has its own employment law, and the provisions set out in the employment contract are in accordance with said labour law. Free zone visas strictly do not allow individuals to work outside the free zone (i.e. onshore) as they do not have an entire UAE labour contract.

Every DMCC-licensed company is eligible for four visa types: Employment visa, Dependents’ Resident visaPartner / Investor Visa (which also includes Business Visit visa) and Student visit visa (university and institution)

Each of the four visas arrives with scenarios ranging from new applications to renewal processes to transfer access for employees already living within the UAE. Visit our page here to learn more about the breakdown of each category at length. 

1. Employment Visa

A DMCC-licensed company must ensure its employees are authorised to work in the free zone by holding an employment residence visa, an identity card, or access approval. Identity cards and access approvals are an alternative way for an entrepreneur to authorise an employee without being sponsored directly by the company. 

Employment Residence Visa

An employment residence visa is the most common visa obtained through an employment contract with any free zone business. A free zone authority (in this case, DMCC), not the employer, sponsors a free zone employee’s visa.

Employees need an appointment letter from their company in a free zone to begin their application. This type of visa is valid for one, two and three years, and the application process differs for employees based outside of the UAE and employees based within the UAE. 

Identity Cards: 

If you want to hire a female under her husband or father’s sponsorship, you must obtain an identity card for this female employee. The identity card is valid for one year. Each electronically-issued identity card is a new count against your company’s allotted visa quota. 

Access Approvals

If you would like to bring someone to your office for temporary work and that person is not an employee, you must obtain access approval. This typically applies to consultants, contract workers, and employees of sister/parent companies who need to work on-site in DMCC temporarily. An Access Approval is valid for up to 1, 3 or 12 months. Access Approvals are limited to no more than 30% of the workers performing. 

2. Dependents’ Resident Visa

A DMCC-licensed company is eligible to apply for UAE residence permits for its sponsored employees and their dependents, such as their spouse, children, parent(s), parents-in-law, and housemaid(s), through DMCC. However, this application will be subject to Dubai’s Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) rules and regulations. A dependents’ entry permit is valid for 60 days.  If the dependent fails the medical test, the family member cannot remain in the UAE.

3. Partner / Investor Visa

This type of visa is ideal for foreign nationals who want to start their own business in Dubai or invest in existing companies. An investor visa is valid for three years, and no deposit at the immigration is required. 

Business Visit Visa 

A DMCC-licensed company can also sponsor a foreign team member to visit the UAE for business purposes. DMCC can help obtain a one-month business visitor visa for this employee.

4. Student Visa (University and Institution) 

A student at a DMCC-licensed university or institution is eligible to apply for a student visa. A university student visa is valid for one year, and an institution visa is valid for ninety days. 

Key Criteria for DMCC Visa

DMCC’s online portals process all visa applications. Each application requires a set of documents, which differ from case to case. The visa application process also varies depending on whether the applicant is outside the UAE or within. 

If the employee application is outside of the UAE, mandatory documents such as the Emirates ID, latest passport copy, passport-sized photo, signed offer letter, relevant education certificates, signed employment contract, and a medical fitness certificate are compulsory for all employee-related applications. DMCC provides an optional service for issuing the Emirates ID and medical fitness certificate.

If the employee application is within the UAE, the required documents are Emirates ID, status change document, and current visa copy. 

Some of the essential criteria to consider when applying for any visa is as follows: 

Employment Visa


  • Minimum passport validity must be six months while applying for the employment entry permit.
  • Relevant education certificates are to be attested by the UAE Embassy in the home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Dubai.
  • All certificates should be legally translated into Arabic if the applicant is within the UAE region.
  • You can apply for your prospective employee’s health insurance through one of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) 45 approved local health insurance inside the UAE.

Visit our application video manual here for detailed information. 

Dependents’ Resident Visa

  • Employees who receive a minimum salary of AED 4,000/month and live in a minimum one-bedroom accommodation can sponsor their immediate dependents - wife and children.
  • Employees who receive a minimum salary of AED 20,000 with accommodation can sponsor their parents and parents-in-law.
  • Valid health insurance for dependents.
  • If the employee holds designations such as a clerk, sales, executive, admin, assistant, etc., then that employee is to submit a three-month bank statement.
  • The sponsor’s job should not be that of a worker or any position equivalent to a housemaid to be eligible for the sponsorship.
  • If you are only a shareholder of a DMCC-licensed company holding a Dubai residence visa and not an employee residence visa issued by a free zone authority (DMCC, in this case), you can still apply for a dependents’ resident visa with DMCC.

Visit our application manual here for more information. 

Partner / Investor Visa

  • If you have multiple shareholders holding a minimum of 50,000 share capital within your DMCC-licensed company, you can obtain a partner visa for them.
  • If you are the sole shareholder of your DMCC-licensed company, you can obtain an investor visa.

Business Visit Visa

  • Each company can apply for up to 3 such visas at any one time.
  • This type of visa is non-renewable and non-refundable.
  • The associated costs are non-refundable in case of rejection.

Student Visa (University and Institution)

  • The applicant requires a minimum passport validity of six months and an application letter from the university/institute.
Visit the application manual here for more information. 

Hassle-Free Visa Services with DMCC

The DMCC Member Portal facilitates a wide range of company services, such as licensing, amendments, and NOCs. It allows you to efficiently manage your business activities in one convenient locationso you have more time to focus on what’s most important to your company.

About DMCC

DMCC is the world’s number one free zone. 9 times awarded ‘Global Free Zone of the Year’ by fDi Magazine and home to over 22,000 companies, registering an average of 7 new companies daily. With a focus on driving commodity trade flows, DMCC is the leading centre for international commodities like gold, diamonds, precious metals and coloured stones. They have an average annual growth rate of nearly 10% over the last three years, representing Dubai’s overall GDP at around 7%, leading to their award for Economic Impact.

Setting Up A Business in Dubai 2023

*The material provided in this blog is for general information purposes only and is subject to change based on government policy and regulations.


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