The UAE Cabinet has approved the Implementing Regulations to the Federal Decree-Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners.
They provide comprehensive information on the types and conditions of entry visas and residence permits.
The new system of entry and residence aims to attract and retain global talent and skilled workers from across the world, boost the competitiveness and flexibility of the job market and foster a high sense of stability among UAE residents and families.
Substantial amendments have been introduced to the Golden Residence Scheme to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries. This 10-year residence is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes.
The amendments allow Golden Residence holders to sponsor their family members, including spouses and children regardless of their age. They also allow them to sponsor support services or domestic labourers without limiting their number. In addition, there is no restriction related to the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residence valid.
There are other benefits for family members which allow them to stay in the UAE where the original holder of the Golden Residence dies until the end of their permit duration.
Golden Residence for Scientists is given to scientists and researchers with high achievements and influence in their field based on recommendations from the Emirates Scientists Council.
The candidate should have a PhD or master’s degree in engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the best universities in the world as well as substantial research achievements.
The Golden Residence for Professionals category has been expanded. The aim is to attract highly skilled workers with educational qualifications and professional experience in all disciplines, including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.
The applicants should have a valid employment contract in the UAE and should be classified in the first or second occupational level in line with the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry’s classification, which is aligned with the International Standard of Classification of Occupations by the International Labour Organisation.
The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and the monthly salary should be at least 30,000 AED.
Golden Residence for Exceptional Talents is granted to top talents in vital fields. It is awarded based on talent only regardless of the educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional level.
It requires the recommendation or approval of a Federal or local Government entity and includes talented individuals in culture, art, sports, digital technology, inventors and innovators and other vital fields.
Real estate investors can obtain Golden Residence when purchasing a property worth at least two million AED.
Under the new amendments, investors are also entitled to obtain the Golden Residence when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks. Investors can also obtain Golden Residence when buying one or more off-plan properties worth at least two million AED from approved local real estate companies.
The Implementing Regulations specify flexible requirements for entrepreneurs eligible to obtain the Golden Residence. An entrepreneur should own or be a partner in a start-up which is registered in the country in the SMEs category and which generates annual revenues of at least one million AED.
In addition, obtaining approval for a start-up idea from an official business incubator or from the Economy Ministry or the relevant local authorities is sufficient to obtain the Golden Residence in this category.
If the individual is a founder or one of the founders of a previous entrepreneurial project or projects which was sold for at least seven million AED, they will be entitled to the Golden Residence. The approval of the Economy Ministry or the relevant local authorities is required for projects or ideas.
The Golden Visa for Outstanding Students and Graduates targets high performing students in UAE secondary schools and outstanding graduates from UAE universities and the best 100 universities worldwide, according to specific criteria. This includes their academic performance, cumulative average, the year of graduation and the university classification.
Major improvements include introducing new five-year residence tracks to attract talents, skilled professionals, freelancers, investors and entrepreneurs. More benefits are offered to facilitate family members residence and longer flexible grace periods of up to six months to stay in the country after the residence permit is cancelled or expired, in addition to facilitating and simplifying the requirements of all residence types.
There is a new Green Residence for Skilled Employees. This provides five-year residency to skilled employees, without a sponsor or employer. The applicants should have a valid employment contract, and should be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as categorised by the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry. The minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and the salary should be at least 15,000 AED.
There is also a new Green Residence for Freelancing and Self-Employment. This provides a five-year residency for freelancers and self-employed individuals without a sponsor or employer in the UAE. A freelance/self-employment permit has to be obtained from the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry. The minimum education level is a bachelor’s degree or specialised diploma, and the annual income from self-employment for the previous two years should be at least 360,000 AED, or the applicant must prove financial solvency throughout their stay in the country.
In addition, there is a Green Residence for Investor or Partner. This residence permit is introduced to encourage investment and provides five-year residency for investors establishing or participating in commercial activities. It replaces the previous residence which was only valid for two years. Requirements include approval of the investment and proof of investment. If the investor or partner has more than one licence, the total invested capital will be calculated. The approval of the relevant local authorities is mandatory.
The new system provides more benefits to family members, allowing residents to easily issue residence permits for their family members, including spouses and children.
The age of children who may be sponsored has been increased from 18 to 25. There is no longer an age limit for unmarried daughters. Disabled children are granted a residence permit, regardless of their age.
Green Residence holders are allowed to issue residence permits for their first-degree relatives and in all cases the residency of family members will be the validity duration as the original residence holder.
The new system offers visitors to the UAE a variety of visa types for different visit purposes. New types of visas are introduced without a host or sponsor being required for the first time. Major improvements include facilitating the entry requirements for all visa types, offering flexible visa durations which meet the needs of visitors and the purpose of the visit. In addition, all entry visas are available for single or multiple entry and can be renewed for similar period(s) and are valid for 60 days from their issued date.
A new Job Exploration Entry Visa has been introduced to attract young talent and skilled professionals to explore job opportunities available in the country. A sponsor or a host is not required. It is given to those classified in the first or second or third skill level by the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry and the fresh graduates of the best 500 universities in the world and the minimum educational level should be a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
A Business Entry Visa enables easy entry without a sponsor or host being required. The aim is to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE.
In addition to the regular tourist visa that is sponsored by tourism establishment in the UAE, a five-years multi-entry tourist visa has been introduced. This type does not require a sponsor and it allows individuals to stay in the country for up to 90 days continuously. It may be extended for a similar period, provided the entire period of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year.
This visa requires evidence of having a bank balance of $4,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies during the last six months before the application is submitted.
Under the amendments, a visitor can apply for an entry permit to visit relatives or friends if they are a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident. It does not require a sponsor or a host.
An entry permit for a temporary work mission is available to those who have a temporary work assignment like probation testing or project-based mission. This will be sponsored by the employer. It requires a temporary work contract or a letter from the employer clarifying the visit purpose and proof of health fitness to work.
An entry permit for study and training is aimed at those attending training and study courses and/or participating in internship programmes. The sponsor can be universities or educational or research institutions licenced in the country or Government or private entities. It requires a letter from the entity, clarifying the details of the study or training or internship programme and its duration.
The Regulations will be published in the Official Gazette and come into force 90 days after their publication.
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