Published in The Express Tribune on April 18, 2022
In one of the biggest overhauls of the visa system, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday introduced a new entry and residence scheme offering “10 types of entry visas with simplified requirements and more benefits”.
According to an official statement, the new visas require no host or sponsor and offer more flexibility including multiple entries and 60 days of validity.
Now, a Golden Residence holder in the gulf state can sponsor his or her family members including spouse and children regardless of their age as well as can also sponsor support domestic workers without limiting their number.
According to the new system, approved by the country’s cabinet, there is now no restriction related to the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residence valid.
“People entering the country as visitors will be able to stay for 60 days, rather than 30 days at present,” The National reported.
The report stated that parents can sponsor their male children until the age of 25, up from 18 previously, allowing them to remain in the country after school and university. This was first set out in September 2021.
It said that skilled professionals on salaries of Dh30,000 ($8,100) per month or more will find it easier to gain a Golden Visa, adding that the system will be expanded further.
The announcement is the formal ratification by the cabinet of a series of recent visa changes – plus new details and decisions – which are known as executive regulations.
“The new system of entry and residence aims at attracting and retaining global talents and skilled workers from all over the world,” a statement from the media office read.
More flexible visas will boost “competitiveness and flexibility of the job market and foster a high sense of stability among UAE residents and families”.
The report said that a major expansion is introduced in this category to attract highly skilled workers with educational qualifications and professional experience in all disciplines including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.
“The applicants should have a valid employment contract in the UAE, and should be classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification.”
The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the monthly salary should not be less than Dh30,000 ($8,100).
This residence is granted to top talents in vital fields. It is awarded based on talent only. Educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional level are no bar, the report said.
“It requires the recommendation or approval of a federal or local government entity, and includes talented individuals in culture, art, sports, digital technology, inventors and innovators and other vital fields.”
Real estate investors
According to the report, real estate investors can obtain Golden Residence when purchasing a property that is worth no less than Dh2 million.
As per new amendments, it added, investors are also entitled to obtain the long-term visa when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks.
“Investors can also get the residence when buying one or more off-plan properties of no less than Dh2 million from approved local real estate companies.”
According to the report, the executive regulations set flexible requirements for entrepreneurs eligible to obtain the Golden Residence.
“An entrepreneur should own or be a partner in a startup registered in the country in the category of small and medium enterprises and generates annual revenues of not less than Dh1 million,” the report stated.
In addition, obtaining approval for a startup idea from an official business incubator or from the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is sufficient to obtain the Golden Residence in this category.
Moreover, if the person is a founder (one of the founders) of a previous entrepreneurial project (projects) that was sold with a total value of not less than Dh7 million, he/she will be entitled to Golden Residence. The approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas.
Outstanding students and graduates
This residence targets high performing students in UAE secondary schools, and outstanding graduates from UAE universities and the best 100 universities worldwide according to specific criteria that include their academic performance (cumulative average), the year of graduation, and the university classification.
This residence is granted to scientists and researchers with high achievements and influence in their field based on recommendations from the Emirates Scientists Council, the report further said.
Earlier, the UAE launched Green Visa Programme, allowing foreigners to live and work in the country without company sponsorship and sponsor their parents and children up to 25 years of age.
This was a huge shift from the previous system where a limited number of long-term residency permits were available for those with significant investment in the country, or where companies had to jump through hurdles to sponsor foreign workers.
The new visas build on the UAE’s previous ‘golden visa’ scheme which made it easier for investors and highly skilled workers — besides exceptional students and postgraduates — to move to the country. Other resource-rich Gulf states have introduced similar visa programmes in recent years, though none this expansive.