UAE opens up to talent with new visa rules: increased eligibility and benefits

The UAE government brought new executive regulations to simplify and expand eligibility to the existing 10-year Golden Residence Visa into force on 3 October. The regulations also dramatically reduce the investment amounts required and extend the benefits of the long-term visas to immediate family members.

The move is designed to strengthen the UAE’s position as an ideal destination to live, work and invest, and to attract and retain top talent in the country. Some businesses in the UAE are now offering 10-year Golden Visas as part of their recruitment packages for key positions or specific skills, in addition to salary and bonus schemes.

The UAE first started granting five and 10-year renewable visas in 2019 to enable expatriates to live, work and study in the UAE without requiring a national sponsor and without any minimum stay requirement. Under the new rules, the UAE Golden Visa will grant 10-year residence to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes, who meet certain eligibility parameters.

Real estate investors will be able to obtain a Golden Visa if they purchase a property, or one or more off-plan properties from approved local real estate companies, with a minimum value of AED2 million (USD544,500). Previously the investment threshold was AED10 million (USD2.725 million). Investors are also permitted to purchase property via a loan from specific local banks.

Qualifying entrepreneurs must own or be a partner in a start-up registered in the UAE that generates annual revenues of at least AED1 million (USD272,000). Alternatively, they are required to obtain approval for a start-up idea from an official business incubator or a competent authority or have founded a previously approved entrepreneurial project that was sold for at least AED7 million (USM1.9 million).

Professionals in all disciplines – including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences – will also be eligible, provided they have a valid employment contract in the UAE, are classified in the first or second occupational level under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) classification, have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and receive a monthly salary of at least AED30,000 (USD8,200).

Qualifying scientists and researchers are required to demonstrate high achievements and influence in their field based on the recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council. Applicants must have a PhD or a Master’s degree in the disciplines of engineering, technology, life sciences or natural sciences, as well as “substantial research achievements”.

Qualifying ‘exceptional talents’ will be talented individuals in culture, art, sports, digital technology, or inventors and innovators in other fields. Awards will be based on talent only, based on the recommendation or approval of a federal or local government entity, regardless of educational qualifications, employment status, monthly salary or professional level.

Outstanding students and graduates will be high-performing students in UAE secondary schools, outstanding graduates from UAE universities or the top 100 universities worldwide, according to specific criteria that includes academic performance (cumulative average), year of graduation and the university classification

In addition to securing their stay in the UAE for a period of 10 years, the new rules will allow a Golden Visa holder to sponsor his/ her family members, including spouse and children regardless of their age, and to sponsor unlimited domestic staff.

The previous physical presence requirements to maintain a Golden Visa have also been removed, and family members will be permitted to stay in the UAE until the end of their permit duration in the event of the death of the primary visa holder.

“The Golden Visa offers a self-sponsored solution to investors, entrepreneurs, professionals and exceptional talents to live and work in the UAE without being tied to a particular employer,” said Simon Gordon, Managing Director of Sovereign Corporate Services in Dubai.

“It also provides more flexibility to 100% foreign-owned businesses who may experience difficulties in hiring without a local partner or sponsor. We had started to see companies offering Golden Visa status to long-serving employees as a retention incentive. Now, after these changes, it will also become the tool to attract talent to the UAE.”

As part of huge changes to the visa system, the UAE has also introduced a new ‘Green Visa’ that allows freelancers or self-employed individuals and investors or partners in commercial businesses, as well as highly skilled workers to live and work in the UAE for five years without the need for company sponsorship, as well as offering an array of benefits to family members.

The UAE green visa will allow the holder to obtain residency permits for children, spouses and first-degree relatives. Green visa holders will also be able to sponsor sons up to the age of 25 and daughters regardless of their age.

The overstay period will also be extended, and once a green visa is cancelled or expires, holders will have up to six months to stay in the UAE. Those looking to acquire the UAE green visa from overseas will be eligible for a 60-day entry work permit to come and complete the application on arrival in the emirates.

In addition to these amendments to the 10-year Golden Residence Visa and introduction of five-year Green Residence Visa, the UAE government has also introduced several new types of entry permits and visas for tourists, relatives and jobseekers, many of which will not require a sponsor or host.

To discover more about the opportunities presented by the new Golden Visa rules, Green visa, entry permits and residency visas, contact Sovereign to find out about our Visa Services in the UAE.

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