Over the past 5 years, the United Arab Emirates has been cementing its place as a global hub, launching new initiatives that are designed to bring the world just a bit closer together. From long-term visas - especially the coveted Golden Visa - to legislative reforms, the UAE has been positioning itself as the perfect place to visit, invest and to call home. The latest announcement from the UAE government doesn’t just outline new visas, it effectively overhauls the country’s entire visa system.
There are several important changes that people need to be aware of, such as expanded visa privileges for families. Previously, parents could only sponsor male children up to the age of 18 (extended to 21 for university students in certain cases). Under the new rules, the age limit has been raised to 25. There is no change to the sponsorship for unmarried daughters, which has no age limit, and children with disabilities are granted permanent residence regardless of age.
The remaining announcements can roughly be broken down into three categories – Visit Visas, Golden Visas, and Green Visas. The visa changes are expected to go into effect by September 2022.
Here are the key takeaways:
1. Visit Visas
The typical tourist visa requires a host or sponsor – this could be a relative who is a UAE resident or a travel agent through which the trip is booked. Under the new regulations, tourist and visit visas will no longer have the need for sponsorship – this applies equally to those visiting the UAE for a vacation as well as those who are in the country to explore job and business opportunities. The validity of a tourist visa, previously 30 days, has been increased to 60 days.
Job Exploration Visa
This new visa is aimed at attracting young job seekers who fall under the First, Second or Third skill level for UAE job categories. It is also applicable to new graduates from the top 500 universities in the world. The minimum requirement for this visa is a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification.
Multi-Entry Tourist Visa
Thew new multiple entry visa grants visitors and tourists a stay of up to 90 consecutive days in the country. It can be extended for another 90 days, bringing the total stay to 180 days in one years. The visa has a total validity of 5 years. Applicants for this visa must have proof of a minimum $4,000 bank balance over six months prior to submitting their application.
2. Golden Visas
Real Estate Investors
Investors who buy property worth at least AED 2 million can obtain a Golden Visa instead of a standard investor visa. They can also earn a Golden Visa through the purchase of one or more properties, provided the total investment is at least AED 2 million and done through an approved real estate company. For mortgage buyers, a Golden Visa can be obtained when purchasing with a loan from specific local banks.
This category of visa is awarded to owners or partners of companies classed as small and medium enterprises (SME) with an annual revenue of at least AED 1 million. The category also extends to owners of businesses/entrepreneurial projects that sold for a total value of at least AED 7 million.
Family and Domestic Help
The coveted Golden Visa - a 10-yea residency permit that is granted to entrepreneurs, scientists, professionals in high-skill categories, exceptional students, humanitarian workers and frontline workers – allows for sponsorship of family member and domestic help. There is no limit to the number of helpers who can be sponsored, and there is no maximum duration for time spent outside the UAE in order to keep the visa valid, as is the case with a standard residence visa.
As an additional point for families, if the original holder of the Golden Visa should pass away, their residence permits will continue to be valid for the full duration.
Scientists and Skilled Professionals
Scientists and researchers applying for a Golden Visa should have a Ph.D. or a master’s degree in engineering, technology or a branch of science from a leading university. They should be able to demonstrate research accomplishments in their field. The Emirates Scientists Council will review candidates and make recommendations accordingly.
For highly skilled professionals in several different fields (medicine, engineering, business education, law and science, to name a few) should have a valid employment contract and should be classed in the First or Second skill level for UAE job categories. The minimum educational requirement is a Bachelor’s degree and minimum salary is AED 30,000.
Exceptional Talents and Outstanding Students
Professionals who display a high level of talent in their field – regardless of educational background, employment status or salary – are eligible for a Golden Visa based on a recommendation from a federal or local government body.
Students from UAE best schools and universities, as well as the top 100 universities in the world, can also get a Golden Visa. Academic performance is the main criteria measured as well as the year of graduation (the visa mainly targets new graduates) and, for international universities, the ranking and classification of the university where the degree was obtained.
3. Green Visas
Skilled Employees & Freelancers
Highly skilled professionals can earn a 5-year Green Visa without the need for a sponsorship or an employer – it effectively functions as a freelance visa. Minimum requirements are a Bachelor’s degree and a salary of AED 15,000.
Investors and Partners
Investors and partners in joint ventures can obtain a five-year visa, which replaces the old two-year investment visa. Proof of investment must be provided, with approval from relevant authorities. The total capital value will be taken into account in the case of multiple investments.