Residence Visas in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been attractive to foreign nationals due to its abundant opportunities, high standards of living, quality infrastructure, political stability, and appealing taxation policies.

As with most Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the UAE has historically required individuals to obtain residence permits linked to either an employment or investment, in order to legally reside in the UAE. This is in the form of residence visas.

There are historically three main categories of residence visas allowed in the UAE: Investor Visa; Employment Visa; and Dependant Visa.

In recent times, the UAE government has also unveiled new sub-categories of residence visas that are commonly described as ‘Golden Visas’.

Let us now take a brief overview of all the available residence visa options.

Investor Visa

As the name implies, this category of visa is reserved for individuals who make and continuously retain ownership of the investment in the UAE. The investments can be in the form of real estate assets, or an ownership stake in an operational onshore company in the UAE.

Such visas generally have a renewable duration of 2 to 5 years.

The investor is responsible for all visa-related expenditure.

Employment Visa

A significant size of the expatriate population in the UAE holds employment visas. This right to reside within the UAE is linked to their employment with a UAE-based onshore company. Should the employment relationship end, the individual also ceases the right to reside in the country, unless until a new sponsoring employer is secured.

Employment visas are valid for either one year, two years, or three years.

The expenses for an employment visa are borne by the employer.

Dependant Visa

This visa category is for individuals who already hold a residence visa in the UAE (either Investor or Employment Visa or Golden Visa) and seek to also sponsor their dependents the right to reside in the UAE. Dependants include spouses, children, parents. The individual sponsor should first complete and obtain his/ her residency, before starting the process of sponsoring dependents.

There are also certain additional criteria to be fulfilled to complete the dependants’ residence sponsorship process, including but not limited to superlegalisation of documents, provision of insurance.

The individual sponsor is liable for all expenses related to the dependant visa application.

Golden Visa

One of the more recent offering for residence visas in the UAE, Golden Visas are differentiated by the duration of the visas’ validity, which are either for 5 years, or in most cases, 10 years.

You can think of them as either an Investor or Employment or Dependant visa, but with a longer-than-normal validity period.

Apart from being either an investor or employee, applicants have to fulfill a higher degree of eligibility criteria and undergo a nomination process per the regulations.

For example, a Golden Visa investor will need to invest and retain no less than AED 10 million in the UAE, with specific allocation for the investments; or a scientist employed in the UAE with specific accreditation and in a specialized field. A select panel will then review the application and decide on your application.

It is mandatory for interested applicants of the Golden Visa programme to apply through official channels only, subject to relevant approval.

Business Visa
Another subgroup of the Golden Visa, the Business Visa is targeted towards proven entrepreneurs to entice them to set up base in the UAE and further their enterprising careers. Interested and eligible applicants can apply and undergo the process through the official site linked here, subject to authorities’ approval.

This visa is renewable every 5 years.

Are you still confused about the types of residence visas available and suitable for you in the UAE?

Feel free to contact any of our team members here to find out more about the different types of residency visas in the UAE, and the pathways for you to obtain the legal residency status tailored to your needs.

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