New Federal Law will grant residency visas to property owners

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New federal law granting residency visas to owners of freehold property, regardless of their nationality or the size and value of the property, will be introduced within the year.

The aim is to create a unified visa system related to home purchases for the whole country, that would benefit the housing market that has recently been less buoyant after several years of growth.

In several emirates, including Dubai, prospective homeowners seeking residency have relied on property developers to act as sponsors for visas. The three-year visa, which allowed the holder to live in the emirate but not to work, was a significant incentive for many buyers, especially those from Iran, Pakistan and India.

It wasn’t clear whether developers could actually guarantee these visas, as some promised, and whether the DNR would issue them. Only in Abu Dhabi developers said there was not even the possibility of a residency visa for foreign buyers.

Residency visas granted in the past would remain valid, but it would not be possible to renew them until the federal law is implemented.

Property industry insiders said, according to The National, that a single nationwide system was vital in easing confusion over which emirate had which entitlement and would help to restore confidence to the market.

Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) last year criticized developers that promoted housing projects in this way, pointing out that all visa applications were subject to approval from the DNR.

A committee to examine the system proposed that the title deed for a freehold or long-term leasehold property would itself qualify a buyer to apply for a residency visa, cutting the developer out of the process.

1 COMMENT

  1. Update 1: Property Visa Law on the Way in March

    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle08.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2009/February/theuae_February414.xml&section=theuae

    New laws to grant six-month residency visas to individuals who buy freehold properties will be ready next month, a top Ministry of Interior official said on Tuesday.

    The ministry is also studying the possibility of granting residency visas to the families of property owners.

    The move comes amid a 20 per cent decline in property prices and a predicted fall of up to 50 per cent in some areas by the end of the year.

    “We are working on this draft to unify and streamline the procedures of issuance of residency visas for expatriates who purchase properties such as flats, offices, and shops,” said Brigadier Nassir Al Awadi Al Menhali, Acting Director-General of the Federal Naturalisation and Residency Department.

    “They will get a six-month visa which can be renewed.”

    Al Menhali said that details of the law, such as how much the renewal would cost, have not yet been worked out.

    “It couldn’t come at a better time for the market,” said Vincent Easton, head of sales at Sherwoods, a property consultant firm. “I’m just confused about why it is only six months. It seems more like a visit visa.”

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