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How to Gain Long-Term Residency in the UAE

In this article, we explain how migrants can gain long-term residence in the UAE. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London.

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The UAE has so much to offer new migrants and their family members, including tax-free incentives, high rates of pay, excellent schools, and of course, sublime weather. In recent months, the UAE has been making changes to its immigration system to attract migrants and foreign workers. One such initiative is the new ‘virtual working’ programme which allows non-UAE nationals working for companies in other countries to reside in the UAE for a period of one year. But what if you are looking for something more long-term? In this article, we explain how migrants can gain long-term residence in the UAE.

Is It Possible To Gain Permanent Residence In The UAE?

Under the current rules, it is not possible for migrants to gain indefinite residency in the UAE, however, it is possible to gain a renewable long-term residence visa, the so-called ‘Golden visa’. The Golden visa scheme allows non-UAE nationals to gain long-term residency in the UAE for ten or five years, depending on the criteria they meet.

What Are The Criteria For A Ten-Year Residency In The UAE?

The ten-year residence Golden visa is available to non-UAE nationals who fit into one of two categories:

Golden Visa - Investment Route

The Golden visa investment route enables foreign nationals to invest as a means to gain a ten-year residence permit. To be eligible, they must have at least AED 10 million to invest. This investment may include:

  • Depositing AED 10 million or more in an investment fund based in the UAE
  • Setting up a new company in the UAE with a capital of AED 10 million or more
  • Partnering in an existing or a new company with a share value of not less than AED10 million
  • Having a total investment of not less than AED 10 million in all areas mentioned, on condition that the investment in sectors other than real estate is not less than 60 per cent of the total investment.

When applying for this visa, the immigration authorities in the UAE will request proof that the money is held by the applicant and not just loaned for the purposes of investment. They will also want to see the money has been held for three or more years and the applicant has financial solvency up to AED 10 million. Importantly, under this route, it is possible to bring your partner and children with you to the UAE, in addition to one executive director and one advisor.

Golden Visa – Special Talent Route

The UAE government guidance states that this route covers those with “specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science and knowledge such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, as well as creative individuals in the field of culture and art”. Like the investment route, this is also open to the spouse and children of the main applicant. Applicants also require a valid employment contract from a business in the UAE for a role that is in a specialised field of priority. These include:

  • Scientists who are accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council
  • Creative individuals in culture and art who are accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
  • Inventors with a patent of value – these must be approved by the Ministry of Economy as likely to add to the economy of the UAE.
  • Those with exceptional talent – must be backed up by patents or scientific research published in a world-class journal.
  • Executives – who are owners of a leading and internationally recognised company or holders of high academic achievement and position.
  • Doctors and other specialists who hold at least two of the following:
  • a PhD from one of the top 500 universities in the world
  • an award or certificate of appreciation in the field of the applicant’s work
  • contribution to 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 and ten years of professional experience in their field
  • specialisation in areas of priority to the UAE

It is clear from the list of criteria above, the bar is set high for ten-year residency in the UAE and is reserved for those at the pinnacle of their occupation or with high net worth.

What Are The Criteria For Five-Year Residency In The UAE?

The five-year long-residency Golden visa is available to individuals in three categories, as follows:

Golden Visa – Investors In Property

This route is available to non-UAE nationals who have invested at least AED 5 million. This money must not be borrowed, and the property must be held for at least three years in order to apply.

Golden Visa – Entrepreneurs

To apply for a Golden visa in the UAE as an entrepreneur, applicants need to be 1) involved in an existing business project with a minimum capital value of AED 500,000, or 2) have the approval to set up a new business in the UAE from an accredited business incubator.

Golden Visa – International Students With High Grades

The UAE’s five-year Golden visa is also available to students with a minimum grade of 95 percent from a public or private secondary school, or if they have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.75 when they graduate.

Under all of these routes, it is possible for successful applicants to bring their spouses and children with them to live in the UAE.

In Summary

The restriction on permanent residence in the UAE is no deterrent for many who can gain long-term permission to live in the country. The UAE is clearly keen to encourage those with high levels of investment funds and the brightest minds to live in the country. Given the current immigration reforms, it may well be that the UAE does one day decide to implement a permanent residence option. Given the tax-free benefits and the business incentives available in the UAE, we expect to see strong demand for Golden visas in the near future.

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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