How to apply for a UAE student visa
Dubai is a hotspot for international students. Source: Shutterstock

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is developing rapidly as a higher education hub, driven in large part by a marked increase in domestic demand for better quality education and educational institutions.

Additionally, good weather, state-of-the-art facilities, job opportunities after graduation, and highly ranked universities in the Gulf region are among some of the many other reasons why the seven states in the UAE are great options for higher education.

If you’re planning to study in the UAE, here’s all you need to know about obtaining a student visa (also known as a student residence visa).

What documents do I need?

You’ll need to get your admissions letter first from the university before starting the application process. Then you will need to submit all your documents to the university who will handle the application for you.

These are the documents you will need to apply for a UAE student visa.

  • Filled-out application form (provided by the university)
  • Passport copies (generally 2-4 copies are required). Ensure you have at least 6 months validity and two blank pages for stamps and the visa itself.
  • Photographs of yourself (12 copies)
  • Admission offer letter from the UAE university you applied for
  • Bank statements showing proof of funds for tuition fees and living expenses
  • Copy of visa fees and tuition fees receipt
  • Tenancy agreement or proof of student accommodation
  • Proof of your undergraduate degree, if applying for a post-graduate program

Do I need to take a medical test?

You will need to undergo a medical check-up if you’re an international student in the UAE. Source: Shutterstock

Yes, applicants are required to take a medical test at a certified UAE medical center upon arrival.

The test usually includes a general health check-up, chest X-ray, and tests for HIV (AIDS), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis (TB), Leprosy, and Syphilis.

How much does it cost?

The visa processing fee is set by the UAE Government Services office, but the university or institute you applied for will also charge an additional service fee, which varies from one to the next.

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.

In general, a student visa in UAE can cost up to AED3,000 (US$820), excluding health insurance.

How long will it take? 

It can take a few weeks, so prepare well in advance. Source: Shutterstock

The student residence visa process normally takes two to five weeks once you’ve submitted all the correct documents.

However, there is an express visa option for an additional fee which usually takes one to three weeks to process.

Take note that a student residence visa in the UAE becomes invalid if a student stays out of UAE for six months.

If you have a valid reason for doing so, such as a medical reason or family emergency, you will need to submit documentation to the immigration authorities.

Can I work on a student visa?

In 2017, it was announced that international students over 18 years old can apply for work permits for part-time jobs in the UAE. Previously, international students were only allowed to work on campus.

Therefore, you can apply for internships, work experience, or jobs to help fund your expenses and build your resume while studying for a degree in the UAE.

In Dubai, students are able to take up employment at about 4,500 businesses across nine creative clusters including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Studio City.

How long is the visa valid for?

Student visas for full-time programs offered in the UAE are valid for a maximum of 12 months. If your program is longer than that, you’ll need to renew it after a year.

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