New UAE Residency Rules and Visit Visa Extension 2023

Anisha Sagar

Anisha Sagar

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Dubai is one of the most sought-after destinations for both tourists and residents alike, offering a high standard of living and a thriving business scene. However, visa rules and regulations in Dubai have recently changed, so it’s imperative that you keep up with the changes.

Whether you are looking for new job opportunities, launching your company in Dubai, or a safe and secure place to raise a family, you must ensure that you are fully compliant and able to take advantage of all the opportunities that Dubai has to offer. From updates to residency visa requirements to new regulations for tourist visas, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest developments and what they mean for those looking to live and work in Dubai.

An Overview of the New UAE Visa Rules 2023

The UAE recently implemented significant changes to its entry and residency visa policies as part of reforms that took effect in October 2022. These reforms have streamlined procedures, expanded the long-term Golden Visa scheme, and introduced a new five-year residency visa called Green Visas. In addition, there have been increases in visa service fees and longer grace periods for leaving the country after visa expiration.

Validity of Freezone Visas Modified:

The validity of free zone visas in the UAE has been reduced from three to two years, with the change taking effect in October 2022 as part of the UAE visa reforms. The move standardizes the validity of work visas, which were previously three years for free zones and two years for the mainland.

Visa Fees Increase:

The fees for availing all services offered by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP) have increased by AED100. This includes the additional smart services fee for Emirates ID and residency visas.

Emirates ID Replaces Visa Stamps on Passports:

The UAE has discontinued the practice of stamping residency visas on passports. Instead, residents will use their Emirates ID as their official residency document.


Visa On-arrival Policies Have Changed:

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a favorable visa policy for travelers from different countries. Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are exempt from obtaining a visa or permit to enter the UAE. They only need to produce their GCC country passport or national ID card upon arrival. Other nationalities may be eligible for a 30-day visa on arrival, which can be obtained without prior visa arrangements. There are also some countries that are eligible for a 90-day visa on arrival. Indian citizens holding a normal passport and either a visit visa issued by the USA, a green card issued by the USA, a residence visa issued by the UK, or a residence visa issued by the EU are eligible for a 14-day visa on arrival, given that the visas or green card is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival into the UAE. It’s important to note that passports must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into the UAE and the list of countries eligible for visa on arrival may change, so it’s advisable to check with the UAE embassy in your country before traveling to the UAE.

New Visa-free Destinations:

The Emirati passport provides its holders with visa-free entry to 112 countries, granting access to more than 50% of the world without a visa requirement. The passport also grants visa-free entry to the Schengen area, which includes many European territories. Some of the countries that Emiratis can visit without a visa include France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain, among others. The duration of stay without a visa varies from country to country and ranges from 15 to 180 days. This visa-free travel is a significant perk of holding an Emirati passport and makes travel easier and more convenient for its holders.

Smart Ways to Apply for a Visa:

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has introduced a new video conferencing service to complete residency visa applications. The service was launched on January 11, 2023 and allows applicants to submit documents and complete the application process digitally. Customers can follow up on their transactions through video calls and send any required documents through a chat box. The aim of the service is to achieve a “zero visit” goal, but in rare cases, if an application cannot be completed, an officer will send a link to schedule an appointment to visit the administration in person. This new service is a step forward in providing smart government services and making it easier for entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Dubai. The option to visit a service center in person is still available to those who prefer it.

An In-depth Look at the New UAE Residency Rules 2023

The UAE government implemented a sophisticated visa system in October 2022, leading to several alterations to visa policies, and these recent reforms are part of the major residency and entry permit reforms implemented by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security (ICP). The cost of all UAE and Dubai visas, including 30-day and 60-day tourist visas, has risen by AED 100. The ICA’s one-month visit visa fee, for instance, has increased from AED 270 to AED 370.

Changes to the UAE Golden Visa in 2023

The UAE has made significant revisions to the Golden Residence Scheme and expanded the categories of the Golden Visa to simplify the eligibility criteria and include more beneficiaries. The UAE Golden Visa is now valid for a 10-year period for all categories, providing the holder with the right to reside and work in the Emirate for a decade.

Investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, and skilled workers are eligible for the 10-year Golden Residence. The new rules also permit Golden Residence holders to sponsor their family members, including spouses and children, of any age, as well as unlimited support services labourers.

The grace period for expats after a residence visa expiration or cancellation in the UAE has been extended from 30 days to 6 months for Golden Visa holders and their family members. Expats now have a 6-month window to either renew their status or leave the country without incurring fines. However, if the Golden Visa holder fails to renew or cancel their dependents’ visas, they may be subject to overstay fines.

The UAE recently launched an online eligibility quiz for aspiring applicants seeking the Golden Visa. The visa is now available to scientists, researchers, skilled professionals, exceptional talents, and real estate investors.

  •   Scientists
    For scientists, a PhD or Master’s degree in engineering, technology, life sciences or natural sciences from a top-ranked university and a recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council is required.
  •   Skilled Professionals
    Skilled professionals must have a contract of employment in the UAE, a job under occupational level one or two as defined by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and a minimum salary of AED 30,000 per month. They must also have a bachelor’s degree. Skilled professionals (classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification) are entitled to an extended grace period of 6 months.
  • Exceptional Talents
    Exceptional talents in fields such as art, culture, digital technology, sports, medicine, and law can apply for the visa with approval from a federal or local government entity. The 10-year Visa will be awarded solely on the basis of the individual’s talent. Education, employment status, salary, or professional status will not be a factor in the selection process.
  • Real Estate Investors
    Real estate investors can obtain the Golden Residence by purchasing a property worth at least AED 2 million or through approved local real estate companies. The new amendments also allow investors to obtain the Golden Residence when purchasing a property with a loan from a specific local bank. Furthermore, the residence can be obtained when investors purchase one or more off-plan properties from approved local real estate companies for at least AED 2 million.The grace period for expats after residence visa expiry or cancellation has been extended from 90 days to 6 months for property owners. As a result, expats now have a grace period of six months to either amend their status and apply for another residence visa or leave the country without paying fines.
  • Entrepreneurs
    Entrepreneurs and startup investors can receive a Golden Visa if their company is registered in the UAE as a small or medium enterprise (SME) with yearly revenue of at least AED 1 million. Additionally, the Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs can be obtained if the person was a founder or one of the founders of a previous entrepreneurial project sold for a minimum value of AED 7 million or needs approval from the Ministry of Economy or the relevant local authorities for their current project or idea.
  •  Students
    Students who have excelled academically, with high grades from UAE secondary schools or universities, are eligible to apply for the 10-year Visa or Golden Visa program. Additionally, students who have graduated from one of the world’s top 100 universities based on academic performance, graduation year, and university ranking can also apply for the Golden Visa program. Note that students who have completed their studies are eligible for an extended grace period of 6 months.
  •  Humanitarian Pioneers
    People who have made humanitarian contributions, including members of international and regional organisations, outstanding members of public benefit associations, recipients of humanitarian awards, and distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts, are eligible for the Golden Visa.
  •  Doctors and Nurses
    Doctors and Nurses are offered a long-term residency in recognition of their efforts and sacrifices, including those who have played a critical role in the COVID-19 response, and they are now eligible to receive the Golden Visa. Seven centres associated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship have been set up throughout the Emirates for in-person visa applications.
  •  Cultural
    Creative professionals, including artists, singers, dancers, musicians, performers, curators, and others aged 25 or above, can apply for a long-term Cultural Golden Visa, regardless of their educational background, employment status, salary, or professional level. They must obtain a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Culture and Youth and be in the country at the time of their application.
  •  Executive Directors
    Executive directors who hold at least a bachelor’s degree accredited by the Ministry of Education, have a letter of experience in the same position for 5 years, have a salary certificate of at least AED 50,000, and have a valid work contract can apply under this category.



Changes to the UAE 5-Year Visa or Green Visa

The UAE Green Visa has undergone significant improvements aimed at attracting talents, experts, freelancers, investors, and entrepreneurs with a new 5-year residency option. The residency requirements have been simplified and made more flexible, and additional benefits include longer grace periods of up to 6 months after the residency permit has ended to facilitate family members’ stays.

Skilled Workers
The Green residency for skilled employees has been updated, offering a 5-year residency period for skilled workers without a sponsor or employer. To be eligible, applicants must have:

  • A valid employment contract
  • Classification in the first, second, or third occupational level, as determined by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • A minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • A salary of at least AED 15,000.

Please note that third-level skilled professionals, as classified by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, are eligible for a 90-day extended grace period after the expiration of their Green residency.

Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals
The new Green Residence for freelancers and self-employed individuals offers a 5-year residency in the UAE without needing a sponsor or employer. The following criteria must be met:

  • Obtainment of a freelance/self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
  • Possessing a bachelor’s degree or specialised diploma
  • Having an annual self-employment income over the past two years of AED 360,000 or the ability to demonstrate financial stability during the stay in the country.

Investors and Partners
The Green Residence for investors and partners is designed to encourage investment in the UAE and offers a 5-year residency for those involved in commercial activities. The following requirements must be met:

  • Approval of the investment and proof of investment
  • Calculation of total invested capital for investors with multiple licenses
  • Mandatory approval from competent local authorities.

Children of Emirati Mothers
The UAE has recently extended the validity of residency visas for the children of Emirati mothers and foreign fathers, from three years to five years. This move is seen as a positive and progressive step towards granting these children the same rights as other citizens in terms of healthcare and education.

UAE Residency Re-entry Permit

Residents of the UAE who have been staying outside the country for more than six months can now return by applying for a re-entry permit, according to travel and typing centre agents in Dubai. The re-entry permit will allow UAE residents who have been away for over six months to return to the Emirate within 30 days of permit approval.

With the re-entry permit, residents can now remain outside of the UAE for more than 6 months without having their residency cancelled. However, to be eligible to apply for the permit, residents must provide a reason for their extended absence and provide proof of the same. The re-entry permit can be applied for through the official website of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP).

Benefits for Family Members

The United Arab Emirates has recently introduced new benefits for family members of Golden Visa holders. The holders can now sponsor their parents for a 10-year residency, compared to the previous one-year stay. They are also exempt from paying the deposit required to sponsor parents and only need to provide a certification from their consulate as the sole caregiver. In addition, Golden Visa holders can sponsor residency for their first-degree relatives, including their spouses and children, for a five-year stay.

The grace period for Green visa holders and their family members to exit the UAE after a residency visa cancellation has been extended to 6 months, with no fines during this time. However, if the green visa holder fails to renew or cancel the visa of their dependents, they may face overstay fines. The Green Residence holder can bring their first-degree relatives, with their residency matching the same duration as the original holder.


Entry Visa Rules 2023

The UAE has recently introduced ten new types of entry visas that do not require a sponsor or host, aimed at simplifying the entry requirements for visitors to the country for different purposes. These new visas offer flexible durations and are available for single or multiple entries, valid for 60 days from the date of issuance.

  • The Job Exploration Visa is aimed at attracting young talents and skilled professionals to explore job opportunities in the UAE and do not require a sponsor or host.
  • The Business Entry Visa is for investors and entrepreneurs to explore business and investment opportunities with easy entry processes.
  • The Multi-entry Tourist Visa has been introduced for all nationalities and allows tourists to enter the UAE multiple times on self-sponsorship, with a stay of 90 days on each visit that can be extended by another 90 days. The only requirement is proof of having a bank balance of AED 14,700.
  • The Family Visa rule has also been changed to allow male children under 25 and disabled children to be sponsored by their parents, and unmarried females can be sponsored indefinitely.
  • The entry permit for visiting friends and relatives, a temporary work mission, and study and training have also been introduced, with specific requirements for each.
  • A residence permit may also be issued for humanitarian cases, such as the female resident whose husband passed away in the country and has one child or more or the parents or children of a UAE citizen who holds foreign passports.

UAE Entry Permit Extension

According to reports, some UAE entry permits may be extended for up to 90 days based on the purpose of the visit and other factors. The applicant’s passport must have a minimum validity of 6 months, and tourist entry permit applications must be submitted by the relevant tourism company.

An entry permit extension can be granted within 48 hours for eligible applicants who meet all requirements and conditions. The extension can be requested online through the website or mobile app of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICA) by following these steps:

  1. Register and create an account on the ICP smart service system
  2. Apply and pay the required fees

A 30-day extension, which can be issued twice, costs AED 610. For GCC residents, a 30-day extension application costs AED 260 and must be accompanied by a passport copy.

In three specific cases, the extension may exceed a month:

  • Healthcare entry permits – may be extended up to 90 days for AED 510.
  • Entry permits for those accompanying GCC citizens – may be extended up to 60 days for AED 260.
  • Study permits – may be extended up to 90 days for AED 610.

The stay period for visit entry permits will be determined based on the visitor’s purpose of visit and at the discretion of the authority, but it must not exceed one year. The head of the authority may also extend the visit entry permit if there is a valid reason for the request and all fees have been paid.


Visit Visa Extension Rules 2023

The UAE has recently introduced ten new types of entry visas that do not require a sponsor or host, aimed at simplifying the entry requirements for visitors to the country for different purposes. These new visas offer flexible durations and are available for single or multiple entries, valid for 60 days from the date of issuance.

The UAE Immigration department has ended the practice of extending visit visas without leaving the country. Those seeking to extend their visit visas must now depart the UAE and reapply.

The prior relaxation of visit visa extension rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been withdrawn, and procedures have returned to pre-pandemic norms. At present, there has been no official confirmation from the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP) regarding the new visa extension rule; however, reports indicate that visa extension applications submitted within the country are being denied.

Visit Visa Overstay Rules 2023

Foreign nationals who have exceeded their visa validity in the UAE cannot depart the country without obtaining an outpass or exit permit first. The outpass for Dubai/UAE can be acquired at the airport immigration offices or land borders and may also be obtained at the Al Awir Immigration office for a reported cost of AED 200 to 300.

Visitors who overstay their visas will be required to pay full fines, which amount to AED 50 per day of overstay. UAE visit visa holders will be granted a grace period of 10 days from the date their visa expires, after which the overstay fines will start to accrue. It is important to note that the overstay fines will not be imposed on visitors who are unable to leave the country due to airport closures or flight cancellations.

If you’re thinking about obtaining a UAE residency visa and starting a business in Dubai, you no longer have to worry about the cumbersome paperwork and time-consuming process of setting up a business. With Meydan Free Zone, you can now take advantage of a digital, paperless experience and simplify the entire process. Take the first step towards a better future today and switch to an all-digital experience with Meydan Free Zone to grow from Dubai.

Set Up Your Dubai Business Today!

Why Meydan Free Zone?

Meydan Free Zone is a thriving economic district in Dubai, offering innovative investment and lifestyle benefits in a secure and regulated environment. The team of professionals at Meydan Free Zone will assist you with all your business needs, from registering your company name to maintaining your licenses and visas. The free zone is located in the heart of Dubai, with airport links and advanced infrastructure and technology to support your business. Contact Meydan Free Zone for assistance with your visa application process, including e-fee payments, website design, documentation preparation, and global payments.

*Meydan Free Zone does not offer freelance license or freelance visa options. 

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