The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai handles all matters related to the status and services of expatriates residing in Dubai. As an expatriate looking to live and work in Dubai, it's essential to understand GDRFA policies and procedures around visas, emirates ID registration, medical testing, document attestation, and more.

What is GDRFA Dubai?

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) is the branch of the Dubai government that handles all visa, emirates ID, and residency-related services for expats and foreigners in Dubai. Some essential functions include:

  •     Issuing various kinds of visas like employment, visit, student, and more

  •     Processing applications for Emirates ID cards and ensuring their renewal

  •     Managing and issuing resident identity cards

  •     Overseeing medical fitness examinations

  •     Verifying documents through attestation

  •     Maintaining records on expatriate residents

The GDRFA aims to provide smooth and efficient services to all those looking to visit, live, work or study in Dubai.

GDRFA Visa Application and Renewal

There are many different types of visas issued by the GDRFA Dubai, depending on your purpose of staying in Dubai.

Employment Visa:-

Your employer will apply for your employment visa if you have received a job offer in Dubai. The requirements are:

  •     Clear coloured copy of passport

  •     Clear-colored photo on a white background

  •     Copy of signed labour contract

  •     Copy of educational certificates attested by relevant authorities

  •     Medical fitness certificate

Once approved, the visa is valid for 60 days from entry.

Residence Visa:-

If you stay more extended term, you must apply for a residence permit. The process includes:

  •     Submitting application form

  •     Providing Emirates ID application

  •     Undertaking medical fitness test

  •     Providing proof of profession

The residence visa must be renewed every 2-3 years.

Other common visas issued by GDRFA include:

  •     Tourist visa: 30 to 90-day visa for tourism activities

  •     Student visa: For full-time students enrolled in academic institutions

  •     Investor visa: for business investors establishing or participating in commercial activities

  •     Family visa: For family members of a residence visa holder

  •     Transit visa: For a short 96-hour stay in Dubai


Most Dubai visas need to be renewed periodically, depending on type. Overstaying visas can lead to fines, a ban on re-entry and even legal action. So always renew well in advance.

GDRFA Emirates ID Card:-

The Emirates ID card is mandatory for all expats residing in Dubai for more than 6 months. Here are vital steps and rules around obtaining it:

Applying for an Emirates ID

To apply, you'll need:

  •     Passport copy

  •     Residence visa copy

  •     Eye scan

  •     Fingerprint scan

  •     Digital photo

The card costs 100 AED for first-time application and renewal.

Use of Emirates ID:-

The Emirates ID is an essential proof of identity needed for:

  •     Opening a bank account

  •     Getting a driving license

  •     Purchasing property

  •     Accessing healthcare

  •     Visa renewals and more

It would help if you carried it at all times.

Renewing an Emirates ID:-

An Emirates ID is valid for 3 years. You can renew 30 days before expiry by:

  •     Visiting any Emirates ID centre

  •     Paying renewal fees

  •     Providing necessary documentation

Fines apply for late renewals.

GDRFA Medical Fitness Examination:-

The GDRFA requires all expats to undertake a medical fitness exam at an approved medical centre in the UAE as part of residence visa requirements.

The medical test checks for:

  •     HIV

  •     Tuberculosis

  •     Leprosy

  •     Hepatitis B and C

  •     Syphilis

More tests may be needed depending on age and medical history.

Exam Validity:-

The medical fitness certificate must be issued within 3 months of arrival in Dubai. It remains valid for 6 months from the date of issue.

Renewal Requirements:-

You'll need to retake the medical test before expiry:

  •     When renewing a residence visa

  •     To change jobs

  •     Upon Emirates ID renewal

Children below 18 may be exempted.

GDRFA Document Attestation:-

Since Dubai authorities only recognize attested documents, GDRFA requires all official documents submitted by expats to be duly attested and verified.

Which Documents Need Attestation?

Some examples include:

  •     Birth, marriage, divorce certificates

  •     College degrees and transcripts

  •     Experience letters and employment contracts

  •     Passport copies

  •     Photographs

Who Can Attest Documents? 

Documents issued in your home country must first be attested by:

  •     Relevant authority (like ministry or department)

  •     Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  •     UAE embassy or consulate

In Dubai, GDRFA can also attest documents by placing a formal seal.

Key Takeaways: GDRFA Dubai

  •     Handles all visa, residency, ID and document-related services for expats

  •     Issues employment, tourist, student and other visas with specific rules

  •     Emirates ID card is mandatory - must renew before expiry

  •     A medical fitness exam is required to obtain a residency

  •     All foreign documents need attestation before submission

Understanding GDRFA's role and processes facilitates visa applications, renewals, avoiding fines and seamless residency in Dubai.


The GDRFA Dubai performs a crucial function in managing all aspects of an expatriate's residency and stay in Dubai. By issuing visas, processing IDs, verifying documents and enforcing strict health protocols - it aims to maintain secure records on immigrants while providing smooth services.

Abiding by its rules and regulations allows expats to continue living and working legally in Dubai without hassles. Hopefully, this guide has provided comprehensive information about meeting GDRFA's requirements for long-term expatriates choosing Dubai as their resident country.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How long is a UAE tourist visa valid?

A: A UAE tourist visa is typically valid for 30 days and can be extended up to 90 days.

Q2: What documents are required for attestation in UAE?

A: Documents like birth/marriage certificates, education degrees, employment contracts, and passport copies require attestation from the home country + UAE embassy before submission to the UAE.

Q3: Can I renew my Dubai residence visa without exiting the country?

A: Residence visa renewals can be done within Dubai by submitting an application and passport to relevant authorities like GDRFA.

Q4: How do I check if my Emirates ID is expired?

A: Login to the ICP website, go to Public Search and enter your Emirates ID number. It will display the expiry date. Alternatively, check the physically printed expiry on the back of the card.

Q5: What is the fine for overstaying a UAE visit visa?

A: The fine for overstaying a 30-day UAE tourist/visit visa is AED 125 per day for the first 5 days and AED 250 per day beyond that.

Q6: Can a residence visa be renewed after expiry?

A: Yes, late residence visa renewal is allowed within 1 month grace period after expiry with fines - AED 125 a day for the first 5 days, then AED 250 a day.

Q7: What is the validity period of a medical test for a UAE visa?

A: UAE medical test reports are valid for 3 months from the issue date for residence visa applications. Validity reduces to 14 days for visa change applications.

Q8: How long does Emirates ID renewal take?

A: Emirates ID renewal is processed within 15 days of application submission. The applicant is handed a paper receipt until the card is issued.

Q9: Can I pay traffic fines with an expired Emirates ID card?

A: No, an Emirates ID card must be valid when paying traffic fines. Renew it to clear fines and avoid additional penalties.

Q10: What is the fee for getting an employment visa in Dubai?

A: Employment visa fees in Dubai start at AED 2,000, excluding medical charges, deposits, typing charges, etc. Actual cost depends on company PRO charges.

Q11: How long can I stay on a residence visa outside the UAE?

A: On a valid residence permit, you can stay outside UAE for up to 6 months. Exceeding this will cancel your visa and require a new entry permit.

Q12: Can I still work on a visit visa in Dubai?

A: No, working on a visit visa in Dubai is strictly prohibited. Only those holding employment residence permits can work legally.

Q13: Is a medical test required for a UAE transit visa?

A: No, UAE transit visas allowing 96-hour Dubai stopover do not require medical tests or examinations before arrival.

Q14: Can I pay fines at the Dubai Airport before leaving?

A: Immigration counters at Dubai airports allow visitors to pay overstay fines before leaving to avoid entry bans.

Q15: How can I verify attested documents in Dubai?

A: Submit documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which can be checked electronically using a unique barcode to confirm attestation.

Q16: Can a newborn baby enter Dubai without a visa?

A: Yes, newborn babies under 6 months of age can enter Dubai without a visa when accompanied by a parent with a valid residence visa.

Q17: What is the penalty for overstaying a UAE residence visa?

A: The fine for overstaying a valid residence visa is AED 125 a day for the first 5 days, then AED 250 per day. An exit permit is also needed to leave.

Q18: Can I pay Dubai traffic fines with an expired license?

A: No, a driver's license must be valid at the time of payment for clearing RTA Dubai traffic fines. Renew license to pay fines.

Q19: How long can I stay out of Dubai on a multiple-entry visit visa?

A: Multiple entry short-term Dubai visit visas allow holders to stay outside UAE for a maximum of 90 days per entry with the ability to re-enter.

Q20: What happens if a medical test is failed in Dubai?

A: Failing a medical test for infectious diseases can lead to visa cancellation and deportation as per GDRFA Dubai regulations.