You have to accept the ebb and flow of rules and regulations when you are living in the UAE. Just like dunes are always changing, rules and regulations also keep changing in the UAE for all good reasons. And as you have strings attached to the country, you must be aware of them. 

The majority of population in the United Arab Emirates is from other countries and one of many reasons behind this is the expat-friendly visa system of the nation! From a 14-days Tourist visa to 10-years Golden visa, the UAE Government offers foreigners a wide range of visas and permits to explore possibilities in the country of dreams! Although, foreign nationalities can’t obtain UAE citizenship, they still can reside in the country by renewing their UAE residence visas before the due date until they retire. It is mandatory for residents to renew their residency visas before it expires as living on an expired or invalid visa is considered an offence which will attract fines and penalties. Therefore, it’s paramount to stay up-to-date about any changes in the UAE visa system. 

What happened to 3 year UAE residence visa? 

From jobseekers to entrepreneurs to wealthy investors, a host of foreigners from all walks of life arrive in the United Arab Emirates with a dream of settling down in the emirate of their choice. Infamous for its expat-friendly visa regime, the UAE offers a wide range of visas to welcome individuals willing to migrate to the country. Some of the most popular ways to obtain a UAE residency are – Investor visa, Employment visa, Golden visa, Green visa, Retirement Visa, Family visa, Dependent visa and Freelancer visa. Every UAE visa has its own set of eligibility requirements and features. Similarly, the validity period also varies from visa to visa. For instance, the Golden visa is a long-term residency investor visa so it comes with 5 years and 10 years validity while the validity of the Employee visa can range from 1 year to 3 years ahem… 2 years. Yes, that’s the news we are trying to break to you. According to the latest update from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC), all visas falling under the category of three years validity period across the UAE (3 year UAE residence visa) have been withdrawn, effective 3 October 2022. This simply means, visas that used to bear a three-year validity, whether freshly issued or renewed, now will be available with a validity of up to 2 years maximum. So, now whether you are working in a free zone or mainland, your employment visa (or partner visa) will be valid for up to two years only. 

A Quick Recap 

New Visa Rules 

The executive regulations of the Federal Decree-Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners, outlining comprehensive information on the types and conditions of entry visas and residence permits that were approved by the UAE cabinet in mid-April of 2022 have come into force on 3rd October 2022. Longer visit visas for tourists, long-term residency for sought-after professionals and easy access to the 10-year golden visa initiative are among the key alterations. The new visas include a standard 60-day Entry Permit, rather than 30 days at present, a Five-year, Multi-entry Tourist Visa that allows visitors to stay in the country for up to 90 days in a row and a Job Exploration Entry Visa for degree holders that does not require a sponsor or a host. Aimed at skilled workers, freelancers and self-employed residents in the UAE, a five-year Green visa also has been launched which is available now to apply for. Not just that, parents under the new visa scheme, can sponsor their sons until they are 25 so they can remain in the UAE after school and university. And did I mention, Golden visa holders don’t have to visit the UAE once in 6 months to keep their residency valid and stay outside of the country with no fears of getting their permits cancelled now? And people who cancel their residency visas can stay in the country for a grace period of 6 months which was just 1 month before the new changes came into effect. 

The labour rights of private sector workers in the UAE, whether locals or expatriates are governed by Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, known as the ‘UAE Labour law’. With an aim to protect both parties in the employment relationship, the UAE Cabinet approved a new Labour Law, Federal Law Number 33 of 2021 (the New Labour Law) on 15 November 2021, which came into force on 2 February 2022 and repeals Law Number 8 of 1980 (the Old Law); replacing it entirely. In view of the New Labour Law, a UAE employer can hire an employee on a fixed-term employment contract for a maximum period of three years (Three year UAE residence visa) which is extendable for a similar or shorter period.

Old Visas New Validity Rule 

The new visa validity change will be applicable on three visa types that are: 

Investor visa 

The UAE/Dubai Investor visa can be of 4 types – Visa by Investment in Residential Property, Visa by Investment in a Company, Long-Term UAE Residence Visa and Retirement Visa but the changed validity rule is applicable to only those Investor visas that bear the validity of three years. Dubai investor visa aka Dubai Partner visa is granted is granted to those foreign nationals who applies for a visa with an intent to start their own business or invest in an existing business in Dubai. With Investor visa, the investor acquires the right to reside in the country as a UAE resident, and to come and go as they wish for the duration of the visa. The visa also enables its holder to sponsor their spouse, children, and parents to enter the UAE. Previously, the renewal validity period for the Dubai Investor visa was three years. However, after the new rule came into effect of late the validity of this visa can’t be beyond two (2) years. This means that investor visa holders in the UAE now have to renew their visa after every two years. Rest of the process will remain the same. They must undergo the medical test again and renew their medical insurance and Emirates ID as part of the visa renewal process of the Investor visa.  

Employment visa 

This visa category is specially designed for skilled and qualified professionals or persons, who are working for or appointed by companies, organizations and economic undertakings as employees or workers such as sales personnel, technical staff, senior executives and so on. This visa type is fully sponsored by the hiring entity and the holder is entitled to several other benefits as well including health insurance, 30 days of vacation per annum and airfare for a round trip to their home country. Depending on the sponsor’s requirements and the type of jurisdiction their business is registered under, the validity of the Employee visa can vary. For instance, mainland companies in the UAE can apply for employment visas valid for a period of maximum 2 years and their counterparts incorporated in free zones were allowed to apply for the same with maximum three years of validity from the date of issue. However, under the new visa validity rule, going forward Employment visas all over the UAE will be available for maximum of 2 years, whether they have been requested by free zone companies in the UAE or mainland businesses in the UAE.  

Dependent visa 

Dependent visa has been crafted for the family members and other dependents of the expats residing and working in the UAE on a resident visa. The visa allows the expat residents to sponsor their spouses and children to live with them in the Emirates. As the validity period of dependent visas has to be similar to the validity of their sponsor either on Employment visa or Investor visa, the new validity change law automatically becomes applicable to the UAE Dependent visas. The visa type is the cheapest, easiest and most popular route to become a UAE resident. However, this visa also needs to be renewed before the two-years validity expires which will be an additional burden on the pockets and responsibility on the shoulders of residents. Not to mention the hassles of going through the process again. 

Notes for Employers in the UAE Free Zones 

Three-Year UAE Residence Visas in the UAE Have Been Scrapped 

As per the latest updates from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC), please note that the three years visa validity will no longer be available for all visa applications including new visa, visa renewal and visa transfer across the UAE. The available validity that you can currently apply for is 1 or 2 years. 

Applications Under Process 

All the ongoing three-years visa application under process, will automatically be converted to the two years validity without the need to reapply. 

Refunds 

Be informed that the fee difference will automatically be refunded duly to the respective Member Portal accounts once the visa stamping process is completed, however, refund will not be applicable in the case the visa applications are part of any company setup package. 

DMCC Members 

In the light of recent updates, all the dependents visa services will be temporarily disabled on the DMCC Member Portal until further notice and all ongoing applications will be cancelled and fees will be refunded for any non-provided service. If the entry permit has been issued, you may proceed for stamping to any typing centre. 

Conclusion 

The Government urges the visa holders to initiate timely visa renewal requests through to avoid the overstay immigration fine which has increased to AED 50 per day. Get in touch with Adam Global PRO officers for any further clarification or visa-related assistance. 

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