Skyscrapers, a vibrant hospitality industry, and the inner-city beaches make the UAE an attractive place to reside, but the thriving economy that plays an increasingly important role in both international commerce and tourism is what draws expats to the United Arab Emirates. Many hope to live, work and settle here when they make their initial move.
To the delight of many expatriates residing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the UAE announced the Golden Visa in 2018, giving long-term resident permits to highly valued foreigners. In April 2022, the UAE cabinet announced a new set of executive regulations regarding entry permits and long-term residence for expats, which will officially be enforced in October 2022. They broaden the qualifying criteria for applying for long-term visas, while also widening the number of people who can apply for long-term visas in various categories, professions, and positions.
This article covers everything you need to know about the Golden Visa UAE, including:
What is the Golden Visa UAE?
In 2019, the UAE announced ten-year golden visas for select residents. They allow foreigners to live, work, and study in the UAE without requiring a national sponsor and with full ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland.
The UAE Residence and Entry Scheme has recently been updated, allowing more people to apply for a golden residence visa. With the new guidelines, the conditions for applying for 10-year visas have been relaxed, and more people from a wide range of professions will be able to apply for the Golden Visa.
What are the new changes being implemented?
From 3 October 2022, the authorities will implement adjustments and changes to the Golden Visa in order to attract even more applicants by increasing the eligible categories. Professionals, specialists, and outstanding abilities are among the latest additions.
The new rule allows Golden Visa holders to sponsor an unlimited number of domestic employees, and the requirement for real estate and property investment to get the Golden Visa has been reduced to AED 2 million. This is applicable not only to real estate investors, but also to students, skilled professionals, and outstanding talents.
Changes to the Golden Visa system will make it easier for foreign nationals to live, work, conduct business, and study in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor.
Golden Visa UAE benefits and advantages
According to the official website, the Golden Visa is “a long-term residency visa which enables foreign talents to live and work or study in the UAE while enjoying exclusive benefits.”
These benefits include:
- an entry visa for six months with multiple entries to proceed with residence issuance
- a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 10 years
- a self-sponsored visa, as there is no need for an employment sponsor
- ability to stay outside the UAE for more than the usual restriction of six months in order to keep their residence visa valid
- sponsoring their family members, including spouse and children regardless of their ages
- sponsoring an unlimited number of domestic helpers
- allowing family members to stay in the UAE until the end of their permit duration if the primary holder of the Golden visa passes away.
There are other Golden Visa privileges specific to individual emirates, as listed below.
Owners of the Golden Visa Abu Dhabi will be entitled to discounts and deals on vehicles, real estate, health care, hospitality, health insurance, and financial services in Abu Dhabi. To provide the incentives, the Resident’s office has partnered with businesses from a variety of industries.
Abu Dhabi Golden Visa holders will be eligible for discounts on selected properties from developer Imkan Properties as part of the Abu Dhabi Residents Office’s commercial collaborations.
Banks such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank will provide reduced mortgage fixed-interest rates to golden visa investors as well as attractive savings account rates to non-real estate investors.
Holders will also be eligible for lower prices on annual health insurance policies for families and individuals, with comprehensive network coverage and a package of benefits both inside and outside the UAE.
Golden visa holders will also be eligible for vehicle price reductions and priority booking for new releases, as well as unique payment options, maintenance offerings, and licensing services.
They will receive discounts on restaurants, spa treatments, gym memberships, and hotel stays at chosen hotels.
According to the authorities, foreign residents in Dubai with a golden visa and a driving license from their home country can now take the UAE driver’s test without having to take any additional lessons.
Furthermore, Golden Visa Dubai holders who have a driver’s license from one of 32 authorised countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, Qatar, Kuwait, and Ireland, will be immediately eligible for a UAE driver’s licence.
Outstanding expatriate students and their families will be granted a 10-year residency Golden Visa in Dubai. They will also be granted discounts to attend international university branches in Dubai to further their education.
According to the Dubai Media Office, select groups of Golden Visa holders in Dubai will also be given the coveted Esaad privilege card, free of charge.
Who is eligible under the new Golden Visa rules 2022?
The 10-year visa is currently granted to seven categories of people: property investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with extraordinary talent, scientists, professionals, outstanding students and graduates, and humanitarian contributors.
Real estate investors
Real estate investors can receive the Golden Visa for Real Estate Investors by investing AED 2 million into the country’s property market. This has prompted many Dubai residents to invest or merge their properties in order to meet the AED 2 million threshold required for long-term residency.
The new revisions also allow investors to obtain the Golden Residence when buying a property with a loan from a certain local bank. Furthermore, the residence can be obtained when investors purchase one or more off-plan properties from approved local real estate companies for no less than AED 2 million.
Startup investors can now receive a Golden Visa if their company is registered in the UAE and falls into the category of small and medium enterprises (SME) with annual revenues of AED 1 million or more.
Furthermore, the Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs can be earned if the following conditions are met:
- The individual is the founder or one of the founders of a previous entrepreneurial initiative that was sold for at least AED 7 million.
- The approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for initiatives or ideas
Individuals with outstanding talent in the fields of art, culture, digital technology, sports, innovation, medicine, law, and others are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme.
Furthermore, the 10-year Visa will be granted exclusively on the basis of the individual’s talent. It will not be influenced by educational background, employment status, a monthly wage, or professional status. However, a federal or local government entity’s recommendation or approval will be necessary.
Scientists and researchers who meet the following criteria will now be eligible for the Golden Visa:
- Have a PhD or Master’s degree from one of the world’s top universities in engineering, technology, life sciences, or natural sciences
- A recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council
Skilled workers may be eligible for the Golden Visa scheme if the following conditions are met:
- They have a valid contract of employment in the UAE
- The job must be classified as occupational level one or two by the Ministry of Human Resources Emiratisation
- The monthly salary must be at least AED 30,000
- A bachelor’s degree
Students who have achieved remarkable academic success in either UAE secondary schools or universities are also eligible to apply for the 10-year Visa or the Golden Visa scheme.
Furthermore, talented individuals who have attended one of the world’s top 100 universities are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa programme. Academic performance/cumulative average, year of graduation, and university categorization are all considered.
The Golden visa is available to humanitarian pioneers such as the following:
- Distinguished members of prestigious international and regional organisations
- Prominent members of public benefit organisations and recipients of humanitarian recognition awards
- Renowned humanitarian volunteers and supporters
Doctors and nurses
The UAE is providing long-term residency to doctors and nurses, the first line of defence, in “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices”. Between July 2021 and September 2022, all doctors licensed by the UAE’s health regulatory bodies can apply for the Golden Visa through the ICA’s golden residency services for doctors.
Nurses and medical personnel, the unsung heroes of the UAE’s COVID-19 struggle, are now also eligible for the prestigious Golden Visa.
For doctors and nurses who want to apply for visas in person, seven centres associated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship have been established around the Emirates.
Golden Visa UAE application
Applicants can express their interest on the website of the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). To request a nomination, candidates must provide the appropriate paperwork and be willing to relocate to the UAE in accordance with their business venture.
How much does the UAE Golden Visa cost?
The 10-year visa will cost between AED 2,800 and AED 3,800 for candidates currently in the UAE. However, applicants from outside the UAE will have to pay between AED 3,800 and AED 4,800 for the Golden Visa. This is a government processing fee, which explains the extra charge for applications from outside the country. The precise amount is also determined by the category for which the applicant is applying.
The immigration authority in the UAE will assess the application with relevant government departments, and if it is refused, the applicant will receive a partial refund.
In addition, the applicant must pay roughly AED 1,000 for a medical examination and an Emirates ID processing fee. They will also be required to get UAE health insurance, which varies in price but starts at AED 800.
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