UAE unveils ‘golden card’ permanent residency scheme for expats

The move will see permanent residency granted to “exceptional” professionals



The UAE has launched a permanent residency scheme for expatriates dubbed the ‘Golden Card, the country’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced on Tuesday.

The move will see permanent residency granted to “exceptional” professionals, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter.

He said about 6,800 will benefit from the scheme under the first round of applications.

“We launched a new “Golden Card” system to grant permanent residency to investors and exceptional doctors, engineers, scientists and artists,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“Residents are an indispensable part of our country,” he added.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) will oversee the scheme and announce more details shortly, the UAE Government Communication Office said.

The move will have a positive impact on the local property market, opined Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp & Allsopp.

“Most expats have a money-making mindset when they move to Dubai with a short-term plan and goal before moving back to their home country,” he said.

“The UAE Cabinet’s decision to enforce a Gold Card for permanent residency now allows expats to look at Dubai as a home rather than a temporary plan.”

He added: “The Gold Card will further the stability of the UAE by encouraging more distinguished professionals to the country. The property market will benefit hugely from this step in strengthening the economy.”

The latest announcement comes after the UAE announced last year that it would grant five or 10-year residency visas to investors, entrepreneurs, specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, and ‘outstanding’ students to “facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment” in the country.

It has already started issuing the longer-term visas to scientists as well as entrepreneurs and investors.

Read: UAE gets 6,000 applications from investors, entrepreneurs for long-term visas

The UAE’s move also comes soon after Saudi Arabia implemented a ‘green card’-style residency scheme for expats.

The special residency scheme is aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats and will grant the special iqama (permit) holders residency without the need for a Saudi sponsor.

Under the law, the holder of such an iqama will have family status, can recruit workers, own and lease property and transport in the kingdom, can obtain visit visas for relatives, can freely enter and exit the country and will also have the use of designated queues at airports.

Read: Saudi cabinet approves ‘green-card’-style residency scheme for foreign expats

The fee for permit has been fixed at SAR800,000 ($213,333), local daily Saudi Gazette reported. A one-year temporary iqama will cost expats SAR100,000 ($26,666), the report quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Read: Saudi’s new permanent residency permit fee to exceed $200,000 – report