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Sunday, June 13, 2021

UAE’s Golden Visa: What is it and who all are eligible to apply?

The Golden Visa system offers long-term residency to people belonging to certain groups. Who is eligible and how does one apply?

Written by Rounak Bagchi , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 2, 2021 2:27:37 pm
UAE Golden VisaBollywood actor Sanjay Dutt received his golden visa from the UAE government on Wednesday. (Photo: Twitter/duttsanjay)

In 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) implemented a new system for long-term residence visas, thereby enabling foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business.

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt received his golden visa from the UAE government on Wednesday.

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The 2019 amendment was brought about in a bid to attract new foreign residents, particularly to the emirate of Dubai, following the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

So, what does the Golden Visa offer?

The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following groups: investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.

The main benefit of the visa will be security as through the issuance of the Golden Visa, the UAE government has made it clear that they are committed to providing expatriates, investors and essentially everyone looking to make the UAE their home an extra reason to feel secure about their future.

How does one apply for the visa?

Interested individuals, who would like to apply for the Golden Visa, may do so through the website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship — ICA (the eChannel for residency and citizenship), or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) which works under the ministry. While ICA offers only online channels, GDRFA offers both online and offline channels.

The process is quite straightforward with candidates required to submit the necessary documents and be willing to relocate to the UAE in accordance with their business venture.

Who are eligible to apply?

For the 10-year visa, investors having no less than AED 10 million worth of public investment, either in the form of an investment fund or a company, can apply. However, at least 60 per cent of the total investment must not be in the form of real estate and the invested amount must not be loaned, or in case of assets, investors must assume full ownership.

The investor must be able to retain the investment for a minimum of three years as well. This 10-year long visa may be extended to include business partners, providing that each partner contributes AED 10 million. The long-term visa can also include the holder’s spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.

Besides entrepreneurs, individuals with specialised talent can also apply for the visa. They include doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists. These individuals may be granted a 10-year visa following accreditations granted by their respective departments and fields and the visa will also be extended to their spouses and children.

For the 5-year visa, the norms are largely similar for investors with the only difference being the amount of investment required is set at AED 5 million.

Exceptional high school and university students are eligible for a 5-year residency visa in the UAE. High school students who rank top in the country (a minimum grade of 95 per cent) and students from certain universities with a GPA of 3.75 or higher upon graduation.

In addition to the aforementioned, foreign nationals who are looking to set up their business in the UAE may also apply for permanent residency (5 years) through the Golden Business Visa scheme.

What are the conditions for people with specialised talents?

People in the aforementioned specialised talent group must fulfil certain criteria to be eligible to apply for residency.

While scientists must be accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council or holders of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence, creative individuals in culture and art must be accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.

Besides these, exceptional talents must be documented by patents or scientific research published in a world-class journal.

Doctors and specialists must meet at least two of the following conditions: a PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world, an award or certificates of appreciation in the field of the applicant’s work, contribution to a major scientific research in the respective field of work, published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications in the respective field of work, membership in an organisation related to the field, a PhD degree, in addition to 10 years of professional experience in his field or specialisation in areas of priority to the UAE.

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What are the other programmes that have been introduced to bring in foreign residents?

The UAE has also approved an amendment to its residency laws allowing foreign university students to bring their families with them to the UAE, as long as they can afford suitable accommodation and have the financial means to support them.

In October 2020, Dubai also launched a unique residency programme which permitted overseas working professionals, who were working from home, to live in the UAE while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.

In September that year, the Dubai government also launched a five-year renewable Retirement Visa for foreigners aged 55 and over to live in the emirate. The programme, called Retire in Dubai, is open to all retirees as long as they earn a monthly income of at least $5,500, have savings of $275,000, or own a property in Dubai worth $550,000.

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