Over the past decades, the UAE has become a main destination for foreigners for work, investment and living, due to the steps taken by the UAE government in order to achieve sustainable development, attract global talents and increase the flexibility of the job market.
One example of this is the new visa and residency rules. Indeed, the UAE cabinet approved on April 18, 2022 the regulations on entry and residence of foreigners, including new entry visas with simplified requirements and more benefits for visitors and residents, formalizing a process aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy.
The executive regulations of the Federal Decree-Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners shall come into force after ninety days from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.
The following are the key highlights of the new visa and residence system:
A-Golden Residence Visa
The UAE Golden Residence Scheme, first implemented in 2019, was designed to enable expats to live, work and study in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor and with 100% ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland. The eligibility criteria for the Golden Visa are now being simplified. The categories of people eligible to apply for the long-term 10-year visa have been expanded to include qualifying “investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes”.
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.
There are no restrictions on the duration of stay outside of the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residence valid.
The previous physical presence requirements to maintain a Golden Residence 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 new Golden Residence Visa categories are as follows:
1)Golden Residence for Professionals
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 Emiratization’s classification, which is aligned with the International Standard of Classification of Occupations ISCO by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the monthly salary should not be less than (AED 30,000) thirty thousand dirhams.
2)Golden Residence for Exceptional Talents
This residence is granted to top talents in vital fields. It is awarded based on talent only regardless of the educational qualification or the employment status or the monthly salary or professional level. 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.
3)Golden Residence for Scientists
Scientists and researchers with high achievements and influence in their field can apply for this residence after being recommended by the Emirates Scientists Council.
The candidate should have a Ph. D. or master degree in the disciplines of engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the best universities in the world. The candidate should have substantial research achievements.
4)Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs and Start-up Owners
Qualifying applicants will be deemed eligible in this category if they meet the following requirements:
Entrepreneurs should own, or be a partner in, a start-up registered in the UAE under the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) category that generates annual revenues of not less than AED1 million (USD272,250).
Entrepreneurs or start-up owners who obtain approval for a start-up idea from an official business incubator, from the Ministry of Economy or from a competent local authority.
Entrepreneurs who were founders – or one of the founders – of a previous entrepreneurial project(s) approved by the Ministry of Economy or competent local authorities that was / were sold for a minimum of AED7 million (USD1.9 million).
5)Golden Residence for Real Estate Investors
Real estate investors can obtain Golden Residence when purchasing a property that is worth no less than AED2 million. As per the new amendments, investors are also entitled to obtain the Golden Residence when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks. Investors can also obtain Golden Residence when buying one or more off-plan properties of no less than AED2 million from approved local real estate companies
6)Golden Residence for Outstanding Students and Graduates
Qualifying applicants 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.
7)Golden Residence for Humanitarian Pioneers
This residency is for distinguished members of international and regional organizations, outstanding members of associations of public benefit, recipients of recognition awards in humanitarian fields, and distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts.
8)Golden Residence for Frontline Heroes
Golden residency can be granted to frontline workers with extraordinary efforts in a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UAE Cabinet has approved several new types of entry permits and visas for tourists, relatives and jobseekers, many of which will not require a sponsor or host for the first time.
All entry visas are available for single or multiple-entry and are valid for 60 days from their issuance date. They can be renewed for similar period(s).
The new types of entry permits and visas are the following:
1)Job Exploration Visa
This visa has been introduced to enable young talents and skilled professionals to explore job opportunities available in the UAE. It does not require a host or a sponsor. It is granted to those classified in the first or second or third skill level under the MOHRE. Recent graduates applying for this visa must be from one of the top 500 universities in the world, with minimum educational levels of a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
2)Business Entry Visa
This visa has been introduced to enable investors and entrepreneurs to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE, without requiring a sponsor or a host.
3)Tourist Visa & Multi-Entry Tourist Visa
This visa enables the holder to stay in the UAE for up to 90 continuous days and may be extended for a similar period, provided that the entire period of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year. It does not require a sponsor or host, but applicants must demonstrate a bank balance of USD4,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies during the six months prior to applying.
4)Entry Permit to visit Relatives or Friends
A visitor can apply for this entry permit if he/she is a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident. It does not require a sponsor or a host.
5)Entry Permit for Temporary Work Mission
This entry permit will be offered to those who have a temporary work assignment, such as a project-based mission or probationary testing, and will be sponsored by the employer. Applicants will require a temporary work contract or a letter from the employer clarifying the visit purpose and proof of fitness to work.
6)Entry Permit for Study and Training
This entry permit is intended for those attending training and academic courses and/or participating in internship programmes. The sponsor can be a university or educational or research institution that is licensed in the UAE, both government and private entities. Applicants require a letter from the institution, setting out details of the study or training or internship programme and its duration.
7)Entry Permit for Medical Treatment
This type of visa is for visitors seeking medical care from the UAE. The visa shall be sponsored by a medical establishment.
8)Entry Permit for GCC Residents
This is granted to residents of the GCC countries and their escorts.
9)Entry Permit for Emergency
This visa is available to travelers, sailors, flight crews, and those in medical or flight emergency situations.
10)Entry Permit for Diplomatic Affairs
This is an entry visa reserved for holders of diplomatic, special, and United Nations (UN) passports.
The new system for residence visas and entry permits offers new types of residence permits for investors, skilled employees, self-employment, and family members. The new types provide customized benefits to each category.
1)Green Residence Visa
The UAE has now introduced a new form of residence that does not require sponsorship.
The categories for the Green Residence Visa are:
For skilled workers, this new residency program provides a 5-year residency without a sponsor or employer. The applicants should have:
- a valid employment contract and should be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation,
- a bachelor’s degree or equivalent education is required, and
- the salary should not be less than AED15,000 per month.
-Freelancing and self-employment
This category provides a five-year residency for freelancers and self-employed individuals without requiring a sponsor or employer in the UAE.
Qualifying applicants are required to have a minimum educational qualification of a bachelor’s degree or specialised diploma and must obtain a freelance/self-employment permit from the MOHRE.
Applicants must demonstrate an annual income from self-employment for the previous two years of not less than AED360,000 (USD98,000) or financial self-sufficiency throughout his / her stay in the UAE.
-Investors or Partners
Qualifying applicants should be investors establishing or participating in commercial activities and requirements include approval of the investment and proof of investment. If the investor or partner has more than one licence, the total invested capital will be calculated. Approval of the competent local authorities is mandatory. This replaces the previous residence visa that was valid for only two years.
- Allows residents to easily issue residence permits for their family members, including spouses and children.
- Children may now be sponsored at the age of 25 (previously 18), with no age limit for unmarried daughters.
- Children of determination are granted a residence permit, regardless of their age.
- Green Residences holders are permitted to issue residence permits for their first-degree relatives, and in all cases, the validity of the residence of the family members shall be the same duration as the original residence holder.
2)Standard Employment Residence
Unlike the green residence visas, this type of visa is only valid for 2 years.
This residency permit is granted to students enrolled in educational entities and is valid for 2 years and is sponsored by the licensed educational establishments in the UAE.
- Remote Work Residence – visa is issued for 1 year with no sponsor required.
- Retirement Residence – visa is issued for 5 years with no sponsor required.
- Real Estate Owner’s Residence – visa is issued for 2 years with no sponsor required.
- Humanitarian Residence – permit issued for humanitarian cases.
- A female resident whose UAE husband passed away and she has a child or more.
- The parents or children of UAE citizens who hold foreign passports.
- Spouse and Children of GCC citizens who hold foreign passports.
According to the mentioned above, we can say that the new UAE new system of entry and residence, with its flexible rules, “will attract more global talents and skilled workers from all over the world to work and invest in the UAE.”
Rasma Legal team is available to support you with assessing whether you qualify for the residency under the new regulations, and with the entire residency procedure.