UAE Residency Permit System Explained


The UAE is known for its strict visa policies. Before 2019, the country offered only two types of residency visa options. Based on the investment value, UAE offered a 6-month multiple entry visa and a 2-year residential visa. However, in an effort to further boost its economy and bring in the best and brightest minds, the UAE has revised the terms of its residency program. They are now allowing promising investors and skilled professionals to apply for a 5 or 10-year visa, encouraging them to be part of the next growth phase of the nation and making UAE their primary or secondary residence.

In 2019, 6,800 investors from over 70 countries with investments totaling AED 100 Billion (USD 27 Billion) were given permanent residency in the Emirates. Another interesting fact is that 90% of the UAE’s population, approximately 10 million inhabitants, are foreign nationals. That’s 10 million people who have migrated to the Emirates. These statistics clearly show that the UAE is not only a thriving economy with great potential but is also open to welcoming people; people who are looking to pursue their dreams and enhance their standard of living. If you fall into one of the categories above or want to learn how you can qualify for a UAE residence visa, read on to understand the new rules, eligibility criteria, and the impact of the new residency program in the UAE.

UAE Long-term Visa: Who’s Eligible for the 10-year Residency Visa Permit?

Recently, the Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched long-term residency programs, namely, a 5-year residency program and a 10-year residency visa program, also known as the Golden Card. As of May 1, 2019, six categories of people qualify for the long-term residency program in the UAE:

  1. General Investors

As a general investor, you are eligible for the 10-year visa if you:

  • Have made public investments in Dubai, through deposits or via a company, amounting to AED 10 Million or more (approximately USD 2.74M) and
  • 60% or more of those investments are in non-real estate assets and
  • You have 100% ownership of these assets (i.e., they are not under any loan or mortgage) and
  • You must ensure that the asset/s are not entangled in a dispute of any kind

Benefits to General Investors:

  • You also get a visa for your dependent/s, which is valid for 10 years.
  • If your primary asset is a business, you can have partnerships in the asset, provided that each partner too has invested AED 10 Million each.
  • If you are striving to set up a team for your business, you can also get a 10-year visa for an executive director and one advisor.
  1. Persons with Specialised Talents

To apply for the 10-year residency visa under this category, all you need is a valid work contract that clearly states your role. The term “specialised talent” includes the following professions:

  • Doctors
  • Researchers
  • Scientists
  • Inventors

An added benefit of applying under this category is that subject to the level of your accreditation (i.e., any private or public patents under your name, or publications authored by you and your degree in the relevant field) the permit granted can be extended to your spouse and children.

UAE Long-term Visa: Who’s Eligible for the 5-year Residency Visa Permit? 

  1. Real Estate Investors

While most of the 5-year residency program conditions are similar to those of the 10-year general investor program, the minimum value of property investment, in the case of real estate investors, needs to be AED 5M (approximately USD 1.37M). The visas granted under this category are valid for 5 years for primary applicants, their dependents, executive directors, and advisors.

  1. Entrepreneurs

If you aspire to set up a business, any business in the UAE, the new residency regulations have made it a lot easier and uncomplicated. A project worth AED 500K or more (approximately USD 137K) and accredited certifications from the government are all you need to apply for a 5-year residency visa under this category.

Benefits associated with the residency visa for entrepreneurs:

  • 5-year visa for not just the primary applicant but also his/her dependents
  • The 5-year visa can be upgraded to an investors visa (if applicable)
  • 5-year visa for 3 executive directors in the company
  1. Outstanding Students

For several years, the UAE has been at the forefront of education. Students from all over the globe migrate to the Emirates to leverage the state-of-the-art education system.

Under the new visa residency program, students with a minimum of 95% in secondary school or with a distinction of 3.75 GPA or equivalent, can apply to be long-term residents of the country.

  1. Retired Residents

The UAE Cabinet approved the long-term residency law for retired residents. According to this law, retired residents over the age of 55 can be issued a 5-year long-term visa. For a retiree to be eligible for this 5-year long-term renewable visa, he/she must fulfill one of the following criteria:

  • Make an investment of AED 2M in a property in the UAE (approximately USD 548K) or
  • Have financial savings of AED 1M or more or
  • Have an active income source of AED 20,000 per month or more (approximately USD 5,480)

Apart from the 5 and 10-year long term visa programs, the UAE government has also introduced two new visa reforms recently, namely; 

  • Remote Work Visa

This is a one-year visa that allows remote working professionals worldwide to reside in the UAE. So, professionals can stay in the UAE under their own sponsorship and work for companies anywhere in the world. Talk about living your best life!

  • Multiple-entry Tourist Visa

This is a 5-year visa but unlike the residency program, the visa holder can stay in the country for up to 90 days upon each entry, which can be extended by another 90 days. What’s more is that this visa is open to all nationalities, does not need a guarantor, and the visa holder can enter and exit the Emirates as many times as needed.

What Does it Mean for Investors?

The Entire Investment Dynamics is Expected to Shift. As mentioned above, UAE has already raised AED 100 Billion in investment since the introduction of the long-term residency programs. These residency programs are expected to further drive substantial traffic to the Emirates, whether in the form of entrepreneurs, investors, or skilled professionals. More incoming residents leads to an increase in investments which in turn leads to a flourishing UAE economy. Long-term careers, residency, and a perfect retirement plan in the UAE are no longer a dream. Moreover, the world class infrastructure, security and connectivity make it one the best cities in the world to live or work from.

Experts suggest that in the long term, these changes and visa rules will drive more and more foreign nationals to settle down in the Emirates. With relaxed and lucrative residency visa measures, UAE intends to stimulate the local economy by attracting the best talent and wealthy investors from around the world. These are the people who are going to innovate and contribute to the economy, ultimately creating more jobs and investment opportunities. Because of the long-term residency programs, entrepreneurs and innovators can aspire to build long-term careers in the UAE, adding value to society.

In a Nutshell

By introducing the Long-term Residency Programs, the UAE has not only taken a huge leap towards greater investment opportunities but also opened doors to people striving to call the Emirates their home.

The launch of the citizenship program from the UAE has also led to a series of foreigner-friendly reforms, like legalising cohabitation, allowing alcohol purchase without a license, and permitting 100% foreign business ownership, allowing the Emirates to become a major trading and business hub. If you are an investor, an entrepreneur, a professional, or a retiree, looking to settle down in the UAE – one of the world’s safest places to live in, you should consider a long-term residency investment.

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