The UAE’s revised Golden Visa programme is opening up to even more specialised expat talent. Yasir Iqbal, relationship manager, and Farida Azarioh, senior country general manager, UAE, outline the changes to the eligibility requirements for current expat residents, and those looking to move and set up here.
The United Arab Emirates are strategically located for anyone doing business across Europe, Africa and Asia. The Emirates’ modern infrastructure, international community, and income tax-free status also make for an exciting place to work and live, which is why many expats already living here have welcomed the latest changes to the UAE’s Golden Visa requirements.
Here we look at the benefits and latest requirements of the UAE Golden Visa and explain why applicants would be wise to seek professional help to make their supplication process smooth and successful.
What is the UAE Golden Visa and who is eligible to apply?
The UAE’s Golden Visa is a long-term residence option for expats to live, study or work in the Emirates with certain benefits. Those who are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa include investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and “frontline heroes”, according to the UAE’s official government portal.
The visa parameters have changed over the past year making more people eligible to apply, notably due to a decreased monthly financial self-sufficiency requirement. The latest changes also allow eligible applicants across an extended list of Golden Visa categories to apply and remain resident in the UAE for up to 10 years.
Why have UAE Golden Visa requirements changed?
First launched in 2019 to attract international talent to meet its goals as a global financial hub, the United Arab Emirates’ Golden Visa Programme has updated its requirements to be more inclusive. That’s because the government wants to welcome younger, highly skilled, middle-management talent, their families, and domestic staff for the long haul.
The revised Golden Visa financial requirements are designed to retain and attract international entrepreneurs, executives, scientists, educators, healthcare specialists and investors in the UAE. For many, this means having the option to set up and/or scale operations in the region more quickly.
The added changes act as an added level of personal stability, residency security and travel convenience for all those that are eligible.
What are the revised UAE Golden Visa requirements and who is affected?
There are several visa categories and each one will have specific requirements to be eligible to be granted a Golden Visa in the UAE.
Real estate investors
Real estate investors will have a higher financial commitment requirement than someone simply working and renting a property during their residency. Real estate investors must purchase a property worth AED 2 million or more. If the investor wishes to take out a loan on the property it must be with a local bank, which in itself will require localised real estate and legal knowledge along with Arabic-speaking capabilities.
Entrepreneurs and start-up founders must be a current founder or have been a founder that sold a project that was valued at no less AED 7 million (USD 1,906,006).
They will also need written approval from the relevant authorities in the Emirates verifying that the company or project or their role in an organisation is of a “technical or future nature”, both of which are economic and societal drivers for the Golden Visa programme.
Executives will also have unique requirements to be eligible. These include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, experience in the same position for no less than five years and a salary certificate verifying a monthly salary of AED 50,000 along with a valid work contract from a UAE registered company.
However, the UAE’s Golden Visa has been extended to 10 years to all Golden Visa categories, meaning those already working here can remain for up to a decade without having to reapply once their Golden Visa application has been accepted.
Skilled professionals such as executives are required to have a minimum higher education degree of no less than a bachelor’s degree and a valid employment contract in the UAE.
They can work in most sectors including IT, science, law, and engineering among others. The UAE requires that they are working at the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification. That entitles them for an extended six-month grace period during the application process.
However, they have a lower monthly financial requirement of AED 30,000, which is lower than executives.
New UAE Golden Visa categories
There have, however, been more skilled categories added to the Golden Visa programme, which include senior scholars and clerics, industry and 4th industrial revolution specialists (i.e. artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and virtual reality), and education and healthcare specialists.
Like all categories, those newly added will entail additional assessments and Arabic documentation requirements which Intertrust Group assesses as part of its Golden Visa application services.
Those eligible to apply can be granted a five-year green visa or 10-year Golden Visa without the need for a sponsor if they have a letter from an accredited auditor and/or authority in the UAE.
This process requires the paperwork to be in Arabic and submitted to the Dubai Future Foundation. Translation of all required documents into Arabic is something that is part of our Golden Visa service.
What are UAE Golden Visa salary requirements?
The minimum monthly salary requirement to apply for a Golden Visa, without employer sponsorship, is now tax-free AED 30,000 (USD 8,169). Previously it was AED 35,000.
Successful Golden Visa applications give the option for five- or 10-year visas, with automatic renewal. This is an added bonus for anyone with the required monthly salary requirement to stay longer should they choose to.
With no need for a sponsor when applying for a Golden Visa, founders and their executives have more scope. For example, should a company close its operations in the UAE, a Golden Visa holder and their dependents will no longer be forced to leave the country within 30 days. They can stay for the remaining time on their visa, even if the main visa holder should pass away.
Even if an applicant meets all eligibility criteria, granting of the visa is subject to approval from the relevant authorities.
Advantages of a UAE Golden Visa
Rules regarding entry visas vary between countries, so it’s best to check with your local embassy or consulate. However, in many cases an entry visa will be granted for six months, with multiple entries allowed, as applicants wait for their Golden Visa to be completed.
- Those granted a Golden Visa will not need a sponsor but will have to personally absorb related fees.
- Principal Golden Visa holders can sponsor immediate family members, including spouses and children.
- If an expat’s work contract comes to an end, the Golden Visa provides the main holder with the freedom to explore new job opportunities for its duration.
- If you have to leave the UAE for more than six months, a residence visa will still be valid.
- The UAE allows Golden Visa holders to sponsor an unlimited number of domestic helpers.
Other benefits include:
- No personal income taxes in the UAE
- Tax-free rental income
- 100% business ownership
- Esaad privilege card, which provides discounts on school fees, eating out, leisure activities, healthcare, and more
Why Intertrust Group?
- CSC completed its acquisition of Intertrust Group in November 2022. Together we offer a global solution for subsidiary governance, fund strategies, and capital markets transactions, and navigate the ever-changing compliance and regulatory environment that our clients face. With capabilities in more than 140 jurisdictions, we are able to do business wherever our clients are—and we accomplish that by employing experts in every business we serve.
- Established in the UAE for over a decade, we can be your first port of call when looking to extend your residency in the UAE or relocate here, whether you are a company founder, executive, or investor. We can handle the onboarding process of all your visa documentation, including translation of documents into Arabic.
- We work consistently with different government authorities, so have a direct line of contact that can be invaluable throughout any application processes. Depending on your nationality, we endeavour to turn around Golden Visa applications in a matter of weeks not months.
- Intertrust Group is registered in the DIFC and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and regulated by the ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority. This information is intended for professional clients only as defined under the ADGM.
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