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UAE’s Golden Visa Program: UAE Residency Guide

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: March 27, 2024

The United Arab Emirates Golden Visa represents a significant shift in the country’s approach to attracting foreign talent and investment. Launched as a long-term residency program, the UAE Golden Visa provides qualified individuals and their families the opportunity to live, work, and study in the UAE with greater security and a host of exclusive benefits. It targets a wide range of individuals, including investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, and outstanding students, providing them with a stable footing in the region.

Applicants interested in the Golden Visa must navigate a clear set of criteria and submit the required documents to secure their place in the program. The visa can be issued for 5 or 10 years, subject to renewal, depending on the nature of the individual’s contribution or investment in the country. Recognizing the importance of family, the program extends the residency benefits to include family members and dependents, ensuring a more inclusive and supportive environment for those looking to make the UAE their long-term home.

Key Takeaways

  • The UAE Golden Visa is a strategic initiative to grant long-term residency to investors, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals.
  • Eligibility for the visa encompasses a range of criteria, tailored to attract individuals and their families with a promise of stability.
  • The visa provides various benefits, including extended residency, family inclusion, and multiple avenues for investment and entrepreneurship.

Overview of the UAE Golden Visa Program

The UAE Golden Visa is a residence visa that provides long-term options for living and working in the United Arab Emirates. It’s marked by its inclusive eligibility and the numerous advantages it offers to individuals looking to make the UAE their home for an extended period.

What is the UAE Golden Visa?

The UAE Golden Visa is a residency program aimed at attracting foreign talents across various sectors. It’s designed for investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, professionals, and students. Unlike standard visas, the Golden Visa offers a 5 to 10-year renewable residence permit, enabling individuals to live in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor and with full ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland.

Benefits of the Golden Visa

Individuals granted the Golden Visa can enjoy a wealth of advantages:

  • Long-term residency: Holders can live, work, or study in the UAE with greater security given the visa’s extended validity.
  • Renewable: This visa is renewable, ensuring prolonged continuity of residency status.
  • Inclusive of family members: Allows the inclusion of family members, such as a spouse and children, under the visa coverage.
  • Property investment: A minimum investment in real estate opens the path to Golden Visa eligibility for property investors.
  • Exclusive benefits: Access to exclusive services, discounts, and privileges within the UAE, like the Esaad privilege card. These can contribute to significant savings across various sectors.

Through these features, the UAE Golden Visa stands out as a comprehensive residency program for those who wish to contribute to the UAE’s economy and society while reaping its many lifestyle and business benefits.

Eligibility Criteria for the Golden Visa

The United Arab Emirates Golden Visa is available to a diverse set of individuals including investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and academically outstanding students and scientists. Eligibility criteria are clearly defined to identify those who can bring significant value and expertise to the UAE.

Eligibility for Investors

Investors can qualify for the Golden Visa if they make a financial commitment to the economy of the UAE. To be eligible, investors typically need to:

  • Own property in the UAE or
  • Make a substantial investment in the country, such as depositing to an investment fund or a local bank account.

Criteria for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs who are either in the process of establishing a startup or those who already own a successful business can apply for the Golden Visa. They must:

  • Present a viable business plan and
  • Have the endorsement from an approved incubator or investor in the UAE.

Professionals and Talented Individuals

Skilled professionals and individuals with exceptional talents across various sectors are welcome to apply. They should meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate a proven track record of exceptional work in their respective fields,
  • Hold advanced degrees or possess significant professional experience.

Outstanding Students and Scientists

Students with excellent academic standings and scientists contributing to their field have a pathway to obtaining the Golden Visa. They must:

  • Exhibit outstanding performance academically,
  • Be recognized through awards or research contributions in the realm of science.

Applying for the UAE Golden Visa

Gaining a UAE Golden Visa involves a structured application process and submitting specific required documents.

Required Documents

Applicants must prepare a series of documents to be submitted to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Essential documents include:

  • Passport: A valid passport with at least six months remaining before expiry.
  • Photographs: Recent passport-sized photos against a white background.
  • Visa Application: A completed visa application form.
  • Proof of Eligibility: Documents supporting the applicant’s eligibility under one of the Golden Visa categories, such as investment records or proof of specialized talents.
  • Medical Clearance: A medical fitness certificate and a negative HIV and Tuberculosis test report from approved health authorities in the UAE.
  • Health Insurance: Valid health insurance that covers the UAE.

The specific documents required may vary based on the category of the Golden Visa for which an individual is applying.

The Application Process

The application process for the UAE Golden Visa is detailed below:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Verify that you meet one of the Golden Visa Requirements for investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, or humanitarian pioneers.
  2. Submission: Submit all required documents online through the official portal of the UAE Government or in person at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
  3. Evaluation: After submission, the authorities will review the application and documents to ensure everything aligns with the Golden Visa criteria.
  4. Medical Tests: Undergo the necessary medical tests at an approved health centre in the UAE.
  5. Approval and Issuance: If the application meets all requirements, the UAE Golden Visa will be approved and issued, granting long-term residency to the applicant.

It’s crucial for applicants to follow each step with precision and provide the correct documentation to ensure a seamless approval process.

Terms and Validity of the Golden Visa

The UAE Golden Visa is characterized by its long-term validity and straightforward renewal processes, providing certainty and stability for foreign nationals residing in the UAE.

Length of Validity and Renewal Procedures

The Golden Visa offers a renewable residence visa with two main durations:

  • 5-year visa: Ideal for those seeking medium-term residency.
  • 10-year visa: Suited for individuals looking for long-term residency without the need for frequent renewals.

To maintain the Golden Residency status, visa holders must adhere to the renewal criteria set by UAE immigration policies. The renewal process typically involves providing up-to-date documentation and proving continued eligibility through:

  • Investment continuity, in cases where residency is tied to real estate investments or business operations.
  • Active employment or educational enrollment for those qualifying under exceptional talent categories.

Renewal Procedures are outlined in a structured manner, requiring holders to:

  1. Submit proof of investment or employment continuation.
  2. Update personal documentation, such as passport copies and photo identification.
  3. Pay the related renewal fees, which are subject to change and should be confirmed with the latest information from the UAE government services.

Renewals can often be processed through smart services, enhancing the efficiency and convenience for visa holders. It’s pertinent that individuals seeking renewal act in advance of their visa’s expiry date to ensure seamless continuation of their long-term residency in the United Arab Emirates.

Investment Opportunities and Business Establishment

The UAE Golden Visa program offers various pathways for investors and entrepreneurs to establish a presence in the UAE, focusing on real estate investment and business creation. The program is designed to attract and retain foreign talents by providing them with long-term residency options.

Real Estate Investment Options

Investors can secure the UAE Golden Visa through real estate investments, particularly by purchasing property worth a minimum of AED 2 million. Dubai’s Land Department facilitates these real estate transactions, ensuring investors meet the necessary criteria for visa eligibility. Investment opportunities range from residential to commercial properties, providing a range of options to suit different investment strategies.

Setting Up a Business as an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the UAE can leverage the Golden Visa to sustainably develop their company within a thriving economic ecosystem. The UAE encourages business formation through various initiatives, including business incubators and specialized economic zones that offer resources and support for startups. Entrepreneurs must demonstrate a robust business plan and obtain approval from the relevant authorities to qualify.

Abu Dhabi Residents Office and Related Services

The Abu Dhabi Residents Office provides specialized services to investors and entrepreneurs seeking to obtain the Golden Visa. This support includes assistance with the application process, understanding the local business landscape, and navigating investment opportunities within Abu Dhabi. These services ensure a streamlined approach for investors to establish a foothold in the emirate’s growing economy.

Federal Authority and Tax Implications for Investors

Investors must engage with the Federal Tax Authority to understand the tax implications related to their investments. While the UAE is known for having no federal income tax for individuals, it is imperative for investors and businesses to comply with VAT regulations and other tax-related obligations. Compliance ensures the benefits of extended residency are maintained and the interests of investors are safeguarded.

Residency for Families and Dependents

The United Arab Emirates Golden Visa is a comprehensive residency program that extends benefits not just to the primary applicant but also to their families. Eligible family members may join the primary visa holder to live, work, or pursue education in the UAE.

Sponsoring Family Members and Children

The primary holder of a UAE Golden Visa has the privilege to sponsor their family members. This includes spouses and children, ensuring that families can reside together in the UAE.

  • Family Members: An individual with a Golden Visa can sponsor their spouse and children, allowing the entire family to enjoy the advantages of long-term residence in the country.
  • Education: Children sponsored under the Golden Visa can access UAE’s educational institutes, making the visa especially beneficial for families considering higher education options within the UAE.

To sponsor family members, the primary visa holder must meet certain income requirements. Currently, a minimum salary of AED 4,000, or AED 3,000 plus accommodation, is the standard set for eligibility to sponsor dependents.

The process for obtaining residency for spouses and children is streamlined under the Golden Visa program. Family members typically receive a residence permit with the same duration as the primary applicant’s visa—either 5 or 10 years, renewable as long as the primary applicant maintains their Golden Visa status.

In summary, the UAE Golden Visa program fosters family unity by allowing the main applicant to include their immediate family in their residency plans, with clear rules and straightforward requirements ensuring that families can stay together and access education in the UAE.

Additional Benefits and Services

Golden Visa holders in the UAE are entitled to several significant advantages, notably in healthcare and education. These services are designed to provide stability and enhance the quality of life for residents.

Healthcare and Insurance Services

Golden Visa recipients benefit from exclusive health insurance plans. These plans are structured to cover a range of medical services, ensuring comprehensive healthcare coverage. They can take advantage of the insurance services from providers such as Daman insurance company, which offers plans with substantial claim covers. The healthcare benefits are as follows:

  • Daman insurance plans: Starting at under AED 2,400 with robust claim coverage.
  • Access to a network of hospitals: Special arrangements cater to the unique needs of Golden Visa holders.

Educational Advantages and University Programs

The UAE Ministry of Education acknowledges the impact of the Golden Visa on higher education. Not only does the visa pave the way for resident university students to attain high-quality education, but it also presents:

  • Residency for outstanding students and graduates: Securing their educational journey and future in the UAE.
  • Access to prestigious university programs: Opportunities to enroll in top universities under special consideration for Golden Visa holders.

Through these provisions, the UAE Golden Visa program offers a stable and promising foundation for both healthcare and educational growth, aligning with the country’s vision for a skilled and healthy population.

Fees and Financial Commitments

Navigating the financial aspects of the UAE Golden Visa process is critical for potential applicants. This section covers the detailed costs associated with obtaining the visa, along with the investment thresholds required for eligibility.

Visa Fees and Other Charges

The UAE Golden Visa involves specific fees that applicants must pay. The cost for a five-year visa includes:

  • Application Fee: AED 150
  • Issue Fee: AED 500
  • Residency Fees: AED 2,280
  • ID Fees: AED 575

For a ten-year visa, the fees are:

  • Application Fee: AED 150
  • Issue Fee: AED 1,000
  • Residency Fees: AED 2,280
  • ID Fees: AED 575

Candidates should be prepared for these expenses upfront to ensure a smooth application process.

Financial Requirements for Investors

Investors seeking the UAE Golden Visa must meet certain financial criteria through investments, which include:

  • Real Estate Investor Visa:
    • Minimum Investment: AED 2 million
  • Public Investor Visa:
    • Minimum Investment: AED 5 million
  • Entrepreneur and Startup Owner Visa:
    • Minimum Investment: AED 500,000
  • Exceptional Talents Visa:
    • Minimum Investment: AED 500,000

Applicants using a loan for investment purposes must provide valid documentation demonstrating their ability to service the loan. The salary threshold has not been specified but maintaining a stable income is beneficial to assure authorities of the applicant’s financial stability.

Legal and Administrative Requirements

Navigating the UAE Golden Visa’s legal and administrative requirements demands a thorough understanding of the associated processes and documentation. It involves rigorous security checks, proper identification, and the involvement of various ministries to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

Criminal Record and Security Checks

Individuals applying for the Golden Visa in the UAE must present a clean criminal record from their country of residence or any other place they lived in for the past five years. This is a key step to ensure that the individual poses no security threats. Security checks are conducted meticulously to maintain the safety and integrity of the UAE’s societal fabric.

Emirates ID and Civil Association With The UAE

Every Golden Visa applicant must apply for an Emirates ID, which serves as an official identity card. The applicants are also required to demonstrate a civil association with the UAE, which might include records of previous residency, employment, or property ownership within the country.

Ministries Involved in the Verification Process

The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Culture and Youth are involved in overseeing and validating the professional and cultural credentials of the visa applicants. Additionally, the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security conducts a comprehensive review of all applications to ascertain eligibility.

Labor Law and Work Contracts

Compliance with UAE labor law is imperative for Golden Visa holders. Work contracts must be articulated according to local regulations. A salary certificate may be required to demonstrate the applicant’s financial stability. Each work contract is scrutinized to ensure that it provides terms and conditions that align with the UAE’s labor standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section answers common inquiries about the intricate details of the UAE Golden Visa and its requirements, benefits, process, financial criteria, recent changes, and potential limitations.

What are the eligibility criteria for the UAE Golden Visa?

The UAE Golden Visa is designed for investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional students and graduates, scientists, and outstanding professionals. Eligibility is determined by several factors including investment size, specialized talents, academic achievements, and contributions to critical sectors.

Can you detail the benefits offered to UAE Golden Visa holders?

Holders of the UAE Golden Visa enjoy long-term residency, the ability to work or study in the UAE, and the convenience of visa renewal. They may also sponsor family members, including spouse and children, and do not require a national sponsor.

What is the application process for obtaining a UAE Golden Visa?

Applicants must first fulfill the investment requirement, such as purchasing real estate or investing in a local business. Then, they need to prepare and submit the necessary documents. The final step is the application review by UAE immigration authorities.

Are there any financial thresholds that must be met to qualify for the UAE Golden Visa via real estate?

Yes, for investors seeking the UAE Golden Visa, a financial threshold typically includes a minimum investment in real estate valued at AED 2 million or its equivalent in other eligible investments.

What changes have been made to the UAE Golden Visa rules recently?

Recent rule amendments for the UAE Golden Visa aim to broaden eligibility and simplify requirements. These changes include adjustments to the investment thresholds and expansion of the categories of professionals who can apply.

What limitations or drawbacks should applicants be aware of regarding the UAE Golden Visa?

Applicants should be aware that the UAE Golden Visa requires substantial financial investment and adherence to specific renewal criteria. The visa does not automatically lead to citizenship and the investments made must be maintained for the duration of the residence permit.

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