UAE rolls out comprehensive changes to visa regime for residents and tourists
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UAE rolls out comprehensive changes to visa regime for residents and tourists

UAE rolls out comprehensive changes to visa regime for residents and tourists

The UAE Cabinet has announced expanded eligibility criteria for Golden Visas, outlined conditions under which Green Visas can be obtained and also introduced new self-sponsored visas for visitors

UAE Tourist Visas

The UAE Cabinet on Monday has announced a slew of new visas that benefit jobseekers, tourists and long-term residents. The Cabinet also announced the eligibility criteria for Green Visas which were first announced in September last year and also expanded the scope of benefits and beneficiaries of the existing Golden Visa.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who heads the UAE Cabinet has approved the executive regulations of the Federal Decree-Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners. The executive regulations shall come into force after ninety days from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.

New system for entry visas
The new system offers UAE visitors several visa types for different visit purposes. For the first time, new types of visas have been introduced which do not require a host or sponsor. All entry visas are available for single or multiple entry and can be renewed for similar durations, besides being valid for 60 days from their issuance date, according to state news agency WAM.

Entry visa for jobseekers
This visa does not require a sponsor or a host and aims to attract skilled professionals who are searching for job opportunities in the UAE. It is granted to those classified in the first or second or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation as well as fresh graduates of the 500 top universities in the world. To be eligible for this visa, individuals must have a minimum educational qualification of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

Business entry visa
This visa also does not require a sponsor or host and is intended to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE.

Tourist visa
In addition to the regular tourist visa that is sponsored by tourism establishment in the UAE, a five-year multi-entry tourist visa has been introduced.

This visa does not require a sponsor and allows the person to stay in the country up to 90 continuous days. It may be extended for a similar period, provided that the entire period of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year.

This visa requires the applicant to furnish proof of a bank balance of $4,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies during the last six months prior to submitting the application.

Entry permit to visit relatives or friends
As per the current amendment, a visitor can apply for this entry permit if they are a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident. This permit does not require a sponsor or a host.

Entry Permit for a temporary work mission
This visa, sponsored by the employer, is designed for those who have a temporary work assignment like probation testing or project-based mission in the UAE. It requires a temporary work contract or a letter from the employer clarifying the visit purpose and proof of health fitness to work.

Entry permit to study or undergo training
This visa is intended for those attending training and study courses or participating in internship programmes. The sponsor can be universities or educational or research institutions licenced in the country, government or private entities. It requires a letter from the entity, clarifying the details of the study course, nature of the training or information about the internship programme and its duration.

New residence visas
A new 5-year residence visa has been introduced to attract skilled professionals, freelancers, investors and entrepreneurs. More benefits are offered to facilitate family members residence, and longer flexible grace periods of up to six months to stay in the country after the cancellation or expiry of the residence permit are now offered.

Green visa for skilled employees
This new visa allows a 5-year residency for skilled employees, without the need of 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. The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and the applicant should be drawing a salary not be less than Dhs15,000.

Green visa for freelancers and self-employed individuals
This 5-year residency visa for freelancers and self-employed individuals also do not require a sponsor or employer in the UAE. Applicants require a freelance/ self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and must have a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or specialised diploma. Also, the applicant’s annual income from self-employment for the previous two years should not be less than Dhs360,000.

Green visa for investors or partners
This residence permit allows for five years of residency for investors establishing or participating in commercial activities. It replaces the previous residence that was valid for only two years. Requirements include approval and proof of investment. If the investor (partner) has more than one licence, the total invested capital will be calculated.

Read: UAE announces new initiatives, including visa changes and new data law

New benefits for family members
The age of children who may be sponsored has been raised to 25 years (it was previously 18 years), with no age limit for unmarried daughters. Children of determination are granted a residence permit, regardless of their age.

Green Residences holders are allowed to issue residence permits for their first-degree relatives, and in all cases the residency of family members shall be the validity duration as the primary residence visa holder.

Golden Visas
Substantial amendments have been are introduced to the Golden Visa scheme to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries. This long-term 10-year visa is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, and frontline workers.

The latest amendments allow the Golden Visa holder to sponsor their family members, including spouse and children regardless of their age, and to sponsor support services (domestic help) without limiting their number. Furthermore, there is now no restriction related to the maximum duration of stay outside of the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residence valid.

There are other benefits for family members that allow them to stay in the UAE in the event of the death of the primary holder of the Golden Visa until the end of their permit duration.

Golden Visa for scientists
This residence is granted to scientists and researchers with high achievements and influence in their field based on recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council. The candidate should have a PhD or master’s degree in either engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the best universities in the world, as well as substantial research achievements.

Golden Visa for professionals
A major expansion is introduced in this category to attract highly skilled workers with educational qualifications and professional experience in several disciplines including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.

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 Emiratisation classification, which is aligned with the International Standard of Classification of Occupations ISCO by the International Labour Organisation.

The applicant must have a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, and must have a monthly salary not less than Dhs30,000.

Golden Visa for exceptional talents
This visa is granted to top talent in vital fields. It is awarded based on talent only regardless of the individual’s educational qualification, employment status, 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.

Golden Visa for real estate investors
Real estate investors can obtain Golden Visas when purchasing a property worth a minimum of Dhs2m.
As per the new amendments, investors are also entitled to obtain the Golden Visa when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks. Investors can obtain Golden Residence when buying one or more off-plan properties of no less than Dhs2m from approved local real estate companies.

Golden Visa for entrepreneurs
The executive regulations set flexible requirements for entrepreneurs eligible to obtain the Golden Visa. An entrepreneur should own or be a partner in a startup registered in the country in the SME category and generate annual revenues of not less than Dhs1m.

In addition, obtaining approval for a startup idea from an official business incubator or from the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is sufficient to obtain the Golden Visa under this category.

Moreover, if the person is a founder (or one of the founders) of a previous entrepreneurial project that was sold for a total of not less than Dhs7m, he/she will be entitled to the Golden Visa. The approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas.

Golden Visa for outstanding students and graduates
This visa targets high performing students in UAE secondary schools, and outstanding graduates from UAE universities and the top 100 universities worldwide, according to specific criteria that includes their academic performance (cumulative average), the year of graduation, and university classification.

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