Friday, March 20, 2020

How to renew your Dubai Residence Visa (2020 edition!)

Note: This process is for Dubai only. Don't use this process for Abu Dhabi or any other emirate!

The process for visa renewal seems to change every year. There are five phases:
  1. Planning. This is important because you'll receive contradictory information from many people.
  2. Visit Typing Centre. Once you've prepared, you'll need to visit a typing centre complete your applications for you.
  3. Medical. Get blood sample drawn. Don't worry, it's a thin needle.
  4. Document collection. Collate the papers required. Don't lose any!
  5. Submission of documents to employer. Because your employer applies on your behalf.

Phase 1: Planning.
It is important to plan because the process is non-trivial and can change without warning. This is how to be prepared.
  1. Select a Dubai Health Authority (DHA) Medical Fitness Center that is convenient for you. You will need to select from the approved DHA Medical Fitness Centres list. Unfortunately, you can't just go to Mediclinic in Dubai Mall (which is what I do for everything else!)
  2. Select a typing centre that that performs both Medical Typing and Emirates ID renewals. You will need to select from the DHA Approved Typing Centers list and the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship (FAIC) approved typing offices. Most typing centers perform both.
  3. Select a waiting period for your medical results. Shorter waiting periods are more expensive. At the time I applied, the choices were:
    • 4 hours: AED 700
    • 24 hours: AED 480
    • 5 days: AED 270
  4. Select a mailing address. You'll need to have your Emirates ID delivered somewhere! If you don't have a PO Box, just say Karama Post Office: you'll be able to collect it at the counter.
  5. Get proof of Medical Insurance. For ADNIC, you'll need to install the smartphone app. Lucky you. For ADNIC customers, use the smartphone app to find the Proof of Insurance page: take a screenshot of this and print it out.
  6. Find your passport and Emirates ID. You'll need these as part of the application process. If you have lost your Emirates ID, you'll need to apply for another one before starting this process.
  7. Make sure your phone number is valid. You will be sent status updates via SMS.
  8. Withdraw some money. There is the possibility that the typing center you visit will not accept credit cards. The maximum charge will be AED 1129.50 (AED 755 for 4 hr medical + AED 374.50 for Emirates ID renewal). 
  9. Get some passport photos. Depending on the typing center, you may need some passport photos. Typing centers are not consistent with whether or not they need passport photos, so it's always a good idea to bring at least 6.
  10. Ensure that you don't need to leave the country in the next 7-10 days. You'll need to surrender your passport during the visa renewal process, so you won't be able to leave the country.
  11. Get a plastic folder to hold your documents. You will collect 5-10 pieces of paper during this process. You do not want to lose any of them.
Now that you've done some planning, time to execute!

Phase 2: Visit Typing Centre.
It's not possible to fill in the forms yourself: you'll have to pay someone to type them for you. This is what you have to do.
  1. Go to the typing centre and ask for Medical Typing for Visa Renewal and Emirates ID Renewal. You will need to provide them:
    • Your passport.
    • Your Emirates ID.
    • Preferred DHA Medical Fitness centre.
    • Medical results waiting period.
    • Mailing address for Emirates ID.
  2. Pay! In a typing center, the cashier is usually a different person to the typer. At the end of this phase, you will have the following 2 documents.
    • Emirates ID Application form.
    • Medical Fitness Application form.
You will need to show your passport at the typing centre, but they do not need to retain it.

Phase 3: Medical.
Get your blood test and wait for the e-mail result.
  1. Visit the DHA Medical Fitness Centre. They will draw blood from your arm for testing. It's a thin needle, so don't worry. You will need to provide them:
    1. Your passport.
    2. Medical Fitness Application form.
  2. Wait for the e-mail from DHA. It will come from and will contain a PDF called eMF-Certificate.pdf. Verify that your Medical Fitness Result says "FIT" then print this document.

Phase 4: Document collection.
Do you have everything you need?
  • Passport. You'll have to surrender it during the visa renewal process. Hopefully not more than 5 days.
  • Medical Fitness Results. Print the eMF-Certificate.pdf file.
  • Emirates ID application form.
  • Proof of Medical Insurance.
  • Passport photo. 

Phase 5: Submission of documents to employer. 

Once you have all the documents above, you're ready to renew your Dubai residence visa. Only surrender your passport to your employer when you are ready to have your visa renewed.

After processing, your employer will give you back your passport with a Resident Visa. Processing times vary: mine was 7 days from submission.

Best of luck.