The United Arab Emirates is a rapidly developing country, hosting thousands of international students every year. It is its good weather, state-of-the-art facilities, exposure to unique cultures and traditions, wide range of job opportunities among other things that make the UAE a great study destination for foreign students, especially those from India.
Every foriegn national who wants to study at a UAE university should hold a UAE student visa. However, one will not be issued a student visa unless he/she has been accepted to a higher education institution in the UAE. In the UAE, the visa process is handled by the education institution where the student will be studying. Here’s more information about the UAE student visa process pertaining to which other important details such as visa requirements, visa fees, how to apply, etc. have also been mentioned.
The UAE requires all international university or college students studying in the country who are at least 18 years of age to hold a student visa.
An official admission letter from the university
A passing medical fitness test
A visa sponsor, either the university itself or a parent or guardian
Approval of the concerned General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).
Currently, a student visa in the UAE if granted for a duration of one year, at a time, which is renewable for a similar period if an official proof of continuation of study is presented from the concerned higher education institution.
A student visa in the UAE can either be obtained by residents sponsoring their children or the accredited university to which the student has been accepted. Authorities represented by the concerned General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the respective emirate will be responsible for processing the student visa.
According to the laws set by the UAE government, a resident expatriate in the country is not allowed to sponsor their male children above the age of 18. However, male children above the age of 18 may remain on their parent’s residence visa sponsorship only if they present evidence of attendance at an institution of higher education for at least a one year course.
For female students, their expatriate parents can continue sponsoring them regardless of their age.
In October 2018, it was announced that all students who graduate from secondary school or university or complete 18 years of age will be allowed a one-year residence visa. The same can be renewed for the following year from the date of graduation or on completion of 18 years.
In November 2018, the government of UAE declared that all outstanding international students in the country will be issued a five-year visa. The eligibility criteria for the same are as follows:
For school students: Must graduate with at least 95% from secondary school whether public or private.
For university students: Must graduate with a minimum GPA of 3.75 from within or outside the country.
Note: Benefits of the visa will also apply to family members of the selected students.
Depending on the country of origin, the student will be required to get an entry permit without which he/she will not be allowed to enter the UAE. The university where the student will be studying may also sponsor their entry permit.
In order to apply, one may visit the following portals:
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship- either the ICA’s eChanel portal or mobile applications available for both iOS and Android.
GDRFA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs)- either online or in-person at the centre in the respective emirate where the student will be pursuing higher education.
Once the student enters the country, the university will arrange the Student visa for them, which is also known as a Student Residence Visa.
Unlike other countries, in the UAE, the student does not apply for a student visa. It is the college or university to which the student has been accepted that will apply for the student’s visa at the GDRFA office of the concerned emirate.
If the application for student visa is approved, the GDRFA will enclose a Residence Visa on the passport of the student along with an Emirates ID, valid until the visa remains valid.
Notably, one will not be issued a visa only because he/she has been accepted to the higher education institution as the decision entirely depends on the UAE immigration authorities rather than the school.
Given below are the general documents required to apply for a UAE Student Visa:
Duly-filled application form provided by the university
12 copies of the student's recent photographs
2-4 copies of Passport copies which must be valid for at least the next 6 months and must include two blank pages for stamps and the visa itself
Offer of Acceptance sent by the university
Copy of visa and tuition fees receipt
Proof of undergraduate/postgraduate degree
Tenant agreement or proof of student accommodation
A medical certificate, issued by a government-approved health center in the UAE. All applicants over the age of 18 have to take part in medical examinations for HIV, TB, Hepatitis B and C, Leprosy, and Syphilis.
Note: The requirements for UAE visa applications may vary from one emirate to another and one university to another. The documents mentioned above are only to give an idea of what general documents may be required for a student visa application in the UAE.
The visa processing fee depends on the institute you applied for. A health insurance fee might also be included, depending on your university. If it’s not, you will need to get your own health insurance. To give an idea, visa fees charged by the University of Wollongong in Dubai have been given below:
Student visa for 1 year if applicant is inside the UAE will cost AED 9,206.5, while Student visa for 1 year if applicant is outside the UAE will cost AED 7,576.5. The same is inclusive of Visa processing fees, change status, regular medical examination, health Insurance, a Visa Maintenance charge of AED 2,500.
Many UAE universities do not provide health insurance.
Usually, a student visa in the UAE is processed within 5 to 7 days. However, it may take up to five weeks depending on the documents submitted among other things.
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