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A Comprehensive Guide to Residency Visas in the UAE

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The UAE has long been a converging point for people from around the world as they seek greener pastures and an exceptional standard of living. As a melting pot of the world’s top talent, it should come as no surprise that nearly 88% of the population consists of expatriates. All of these expats living and working in the region are permitted to do so via a range of residency visas offered by the UAE. If you are interested in obtaining the same, understanding the different types of residency visas on offer is key.

Read on to find out the process of obtaining a residency visa as we explore the many options that can help with turning your dream of living and working in the UAE into a reality.

WHY CONSIDER RESIDENCY VISA IN DUBAI?

The appeal of new horizons and a better future has a lot to do with Dubai’s allure. Here are a few reasons why families and individuals consider residency in the UAE:

Safety and Security

Dubai is considered to be among the safest cities in the world. Maintaining law and order has been given paramount importance, backed by a robust justice system. State-of-the-art technology implementation across various aspects of life adds to this. Together with Dubais’ police force and tolerant policies implemented by the Government, its population lives in a comfortable and worry-free environment.

Exceptional Lifestyle

In terms of quality of life, Dubai stands further ahead of most developing economies. With world-class infrastructure coupled with diverse lifestyle options, Dubai has something for everyone.

Tax-Free Living

Dubai residents can enjoy a tax-free income, whether they are employed or running their own business (subject to certain tax brackets). This enticing financial advantage allows Dubai Residents to speed up their wealth accumulation.

Thriving Economy

Despite what happens with the world at large, Dubai’s economy continues to grow. This is all thanks to its diversification into sectors such as tourism, construction, and financial services.

Booming Real Estate Market

Featuring a range of properties to suit all tastes from gated communities, beachfront villas, and high rise penthouses, you are spoilt for choice. Property investors too are drawn to this market, thanks to attractive yields.

Educational Opportunities

Dubai offers expatriates the choice to educate their children in schools following their home country’s curriculum, including the UK, USA, India, Pakistan, Australia, Germany, and France. Dubai also offers a growing number of universities and colleges for higher education.

CATEGORIES OF UAE RESIDENCY VISAS

UAE offers several residency visas that offer a pathway to life in the region. Whether you are an investor, a retiree, a student, or an entrepreneur, this section outlines the categories and purposes of these visas.

Investor Visa

UAE 10-Year Golden Visa

When the UAE introduced its Golden Visa program in 2019, it cleared the way for those looking to stay in the region for an extended period. With residency periods ranging from five to ten years, the Golden Visa program has no strings attached – one no longer needs to worry about employer ties or renewal hassles. In addition to being the key to a life where expats live in the UAE without the need for a national sponsor, it also allows entrepreneurs to set up their 100% ownership business in mainland UAE. This long-term residency visa program was established to attract investors, talent, entrepreneurs, and seasoned professionals, the world over.

Requirements
Investors in Public Investments A minimum investment of AED two million in an accredited investment fund or a valid commercial or industrial license with a capital of at least AED two million.Proof of complete ownership of the invested capital (not a loan).Mandatory medical insurance for the investor and their family.
Real Estate Investors Ownership of property or properties valued at a minimum of AED 2 million.Alternatively, purchasing property with a loan from specific local banks approved by the competent local entity.
Entrepreneurs Ownership of an economic project with a focus on risk and innovation.Project value not less than 500,000 dirhams.Approval from an auditor, authorities in the emirate, and an accredited business incubator in the UAE.
Outstanding Specialized Talents Criteria vary depending on the category of specialized talent, which includes doctors, scientists, artists, inventors, executives, and specialists in scientific fields.
Outstanding Students High school and university students achieving specific academic criteria, with recommendations from relevant educational authorities.
Pioneers of Humanitarian Work Categories eligible for a 10-year Golden Visa, including individuals who have worked for international and regional organizations, civil associations, or those who have received awards from humanitarian organizations.
Frontline Heroes: Healthcare professionals and other essential workers who have demonstrated extraordinary efforts during crises, with recommendations from competent authorities.

Retirement Visa

If you are seeking to retire away from your home country, the UAE might be the best option for you. If you are over 55 years of age, the UAE Retirement Visa allows you to reside in the UAE for a longer period, initially for 5 years with renewal possibilities on the cards. However, the applicant must meet certain financial criteria.

RequirementsDocuments
The primary applicant must be at least 55 years old.   Applicants must fulfil one of the following financial criteria: Option 1: Maintain a sustainable income of at least AED 180,000 annually or AED 15,000 per month.Option 2: Have AED 1 million in savings placed in a 3-year fixed deposit.Option 3: Possess AED 1 million in unmortgaged property, or mortgaged property for which the cumulative payment to date is at least AED 1 million.Option 4: Combine Options 1 and 2, with a total value of at least AED 1 million. This combination should include a 3-year fixed deposit worth AED 500,000 and property worth AED 500,000.Passport copies of the primary applicant and any dependents (spouse and children).Marriage certificate copy if the primary applicant is sponsoring their spouse.Copies of the current visas for the primary applicant and all dependents, if they are already UAE residents.Copies of Emirates IDs for the primary applicant and dependents if they are already UAE residents.  

Employment Visa

Under an Employment Visa, expatriates are allowed to enter the UAE for employment. It is valid for two months from the date of issue. Once you enter the UAE with your work permit, your sponsoring company will complete the required formalities within a specific timeframe of around 60 days.

Formalities
Medical Testing
The sponsoring company typically arranges for the employee to undergo mandatory medical testing to ensure their health and well-being, which is a standard requirement for work visas.   UAE Resident Identity (Emirates ID) Card
The process also involves obtaining a UAE Resident Identity Card, commonly referred to as an Emirates ID. This ID card is essential for residents of the UAE and serves as official identification.   Labour Card
The company will also apply for a Labour Card on behalf of the employee. The Labour Card is an essential document that signifies the individual’s legal employment in the country.   Work Residency Permit Stamping
One of the final steps in the process is the stamping of the work residency permit on the employee’s passport. This permit indicates that the individual is officially sponsored by the employing company and has legal residency in the UAE for work purposes.  

Green Visa

If you’re looking for a way to live and work in the UAE with independence and freedom, the region’s Green Visa program might be a good fit for you. The UAE’s Green Visa stands out because it gives holders the chance to sponsor themselves for five years, removing the need for a UAE national or employer for sponsorship. Staying true to its name, the Green Visa acts as a catalyst for sustainability as it attracts skilled professionals and investors with an eye for environmental stewardship.

Requirements (Varies by Condition)Documents
Skilled Professionals/Employees: Employment contract, specific occupational level, BA degree, minimum salary.Freelancers/Self-employed: Freelance permit, education proof, income requirements.Investor or Partner: AED 1 million investment, approval.Passport, photos, medical reports, health insurance, entry permit, qualification proof, freelancing permit, and more, depending on the condition.

Family Visas

The UAE allows expatriate residents to sponsor their family members, allowing them to reside in the country. This process is subject to specific requirements and guidelines established by the UAE authorities.

Sponsoring Wife and ChildrenSponsoring Specific Family Members
The expatriate resident must have a valid residence permit/visa.The sponsor should have a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation.Male and female family members who are 18 years and above must undergo and pass medical fitness tests at approved health centers in the UAE.To sponsor your wife, provide an attested marriage certificate in Arabic or a duly translated version by a certified translator.In specific cases, a Muslim resident may be allowed to sponsor two wives, subject to terms and conditions set by the ICP.Daughters can be sponsored by an expatriate resident as long as they are unmarried, with no age restrictions.Sons can be sponsored until they reach the age of 25. Sons with special needs can be sponsored with no age restrictions.For newborns born in the UAE, apply for a residence visa within 120 days of their birth to avoid fines.Stepchildren can be sponsored, subject to GDRFA’s conditions, including a deposit for each child and a written no-objection certificate from the biological parent. Their residence visas are valid for one year and are renewable annually.
Sponsoring ParentsResidence Visa for a UAE Citizen’s Spouse, Parent, and Child
The employed expatriate resident can sponsor both parents for a one-year stay by paying a deposit as a guarantee for each parent as stipulated by the respective immigration department.An expatriate employee cannot sponsor only one of his parents. He needs to sponsor both parents together and prove that he is their sole support.To sponsor parents, the employed expatriate resident must earn the minimum salary stipulated and obtain a medical insurance policy for parents with the minimum coverage stipulated for each, to be renewed each year.A UAE citizen’s spouse, parent, or child, who holds a foreign passport, can get a UAE residence visa for 5 years without having to work in the UAE. In this case, the sponsor shall be the UAE citizen.A foreign widow or divorced woman, who is a mother of a UAE citizen, can get a residence visa without having to work in the UAE. In this case, the sponsor shall be the oldest child.  

Student Visa

A UAE student visa allows you to reside in the country to pursue your education. This visa can be obtained either under the sponsorship of a parent who is a resident of the UAE or through sponsorship from the accredited university or college where the student is enrolled. These visas are issued for one year, renewable for additional one-year periods if you can prove that you are extending your period of study.

DocumentsRequirements
A certificate issued by the university or institute specifying the duration of the study.   A valid passport with a minimum validity period.   Submission of a visa application through the relevant government authorities.   Compliance with other general provisions and requirements for UAE residence visas.Sponsored by Parents: The student should be sponsored by a parent who is a resident in the UAE.Evidence of enrollment and continuation of studies at an accredited educational institute in the UAE.   Sponsored by Universities/Colleges: Sponsorship from the accredited university or college where the student is studying.Proof of admission and enrollment at the educational institution.

BENEFITS AND PRIVILEGES OF UAE RESIDENCY VISAS

Investor Visas

  • long-term stability
  • access to lucrative business opportunities with the 10-Year Golden Visa
  • secure residency through property ownership with the 5-Year Golden Visa

Retirement Visa

  • peaceful and secure retirement in a safe and vibrant environment
  • own property
  • access high-quality healthcare and amenities

Employment Visa

  • Live and work legally in the UAE
  • tap into a diverse job market
  • world-class infrastructure to advance your career and financial prospects

Company Investor Visa

  • Pursue your entrepreneurial dreams
  • business-friendly environment
  • benefit from the UAE’s strategic location and economic potential.

Family Visa

  • Reunite with your loved ones
  • provide them with a high-quality lifestyle
  • Sponsor your spouse, children, and parents for a stable family life

Green Visa

  • Mingle with other top talent, investors, and entrepreneurs
  • Enjoy the privilege of sponsoring family members

RENEWAL AND COMPLIANCE

To make the most of the benefits of your residency in the UAE, it is important to be thorough with the renewal process depending on your visa category. You need to ensure that you meet the financial or employment obligations to maintain your residency in the UAE. The tables detailed above will give you a quick snapshot of what to keep your eye on.

In Conclusion,

The UAE offers a residency category that suits the needs of various individuals, each of them with their unique advantages and responsibilities. Choose the most suitable option for yourself and enjoy a promising future in this welcoming region. If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact us at SetHub for expert guidance.