About 90% of 10208096 people residing in the UAE are expatriates. Reason? Countless! For some, it is the nation’s expat-friendliness, for some, it is its high-tech lifestyle, for others it is UAE’s safe and lawful environment and there are people like me who choose UAE (particularly Dubai) because the process to get permanent residency in UAEis easy and less time-consuming than any other developed countries across the planet like Canada, US, New Zealand and Australia. Even citizens of these high-octane nations hanker after UAE residency. The process to obtain UAE residency is no sweat. Either get employed or get ready to employ others in UAE and there you go. Easier said than done? Not really! Keep reading to know what options do you have at your disposal to get permanent residency in UAE. 

Why Dubai?

Jaw-dropping skyline, breathtaking sky-scraping structures, beguiling beaches, top-notch hotels, a panoply of jumbo malls, wonderful entertainment options, Dubai is every bit picturesque! No wonder, a trip to Dubai is on the bucket list of millions. Cradle of peace, a symbol of harmony and an idol of cultural and social affinity, Dubai houses all manner of people from the world over. Just one image of dazzling Dubai on the internet is enough to bring you round that life in Dubai is no less than dream come true, let alone the label of a developed economy the city holds. 

Home to the world’s tallest buildings and numerous other firsts, Dubai leads the pack when it comes to popular locations to live and work across the globe. Who wouldn’t wish to stay in a city that never ceases to surprise us with its non-stop progress, ever-increasing luxury and uninterrupted high-quality living standard! Tons of business opportunities, huge tax-free earnings, world-class education, excellent healthcare facilities, dirt-cheap fuel, intelligent transportation, superlative road infrastructure, incentive packages for buying properties, pensions & retirement benefits from the age of 49, Dubai has something for everyone. The ongoing Expo 2020 has just gilded the lily! If you are steeling yourself to migrate to Dubai, this is the time! UAE offers not only residency to foreign nationals but also citizenship these days (Not to everyone, tho!). And glad tidings are – you don’t necessarily have to be rich as Croesus to qualify for UAE residency. Nor cream of the crop to call Dubai your home. There are numerous ways to obtain alternate residency in UAE with a residence visa. 

Residency in the UAE: Options 

Foreigners cannot apply for UAE citizenship but for UAE residency. While the UAE passport is offered to only select foreigners and professionals, residency is available to almost everyone from any part of the world upon meeting certain criteria to be eligible to live in any of the seven emirates of the UAE namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. And it won’t cost you the earth. The nation flung open its doors to foreign nationals by introducing Golden Visa which grants long-term residency to eligible people outside the UAE upon fulfilling a set of specific terms and conditions. Fret not if you are not an investor, entrepreneur, researcher, medical professional, scientist, innovator or outstanding student. The UAE offers myriad visa schemes for foreign nationals who have been nurturing the dream of living and working in Dubai in their hearts for years. If you’re interested in obtaining a residency visa in the UAE, you may opt for any of the below routes that suits you the best and squarely fits into your requirements:  

Employment or Work Visa 

Foreigners who are looking to live in the UAE long-term must possess a Residence Visa. Furthermore, if you want to be allowed to work, you must also have a work permit for the UAE. Also known as a “pink visa”, an employment entry visa in the UAE is provided by employers in the UAE to their employees if hired from outside the country. Any foreigner who is over the age of 18 is permitted to work in the UAE, provided that they meet the criteria set by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). After you enter the UAE with the approval you received from the MoHRE, your employer has to apply for a Residence Visa for you from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate where you are employed. The cost of the Work Visa and Residency Permit will be borne by the hiring entity. With the approval and visa secured, the employee will have two months to enter the UAE. A work permit, when you first receive it is valid for 30 days and can be extended for another 30. This gives you 60 days to remain in the country, during which time you and your employer have to arrange to get a Residence Visa, an Emirates ID and your Labour Card. It is the Residence Visa in addition to the Labour Card which allows you to live and work in the UAE legally. UAE Residence Visas are issued for 1, 2, or 3 years, depending on your purpose of travel and the discretion of the UAE authorities. 

Dubai Investor Visa 

Another way to be able to live in the UAE for the long term is a Dubai Investor Visa. UAE Investment Visa is issued for a longer duration (up to ten years) than other types of residence visas. A part of the Golden Visa system, the UAE business visa allows foreign natives to obtain a long-term visa for themselves and their dependents by setting up a company in any part of the nation. Anyone who wants to register their new company or expand their existing business in the UAE is eligible for this type of visa. Foreign investors who are hoping to reside in the country using their entrepreneurial skills are required to meet certain financial requirements. For a business visa application, you will need to have your nomination approved by an incubator supported by the UAE government. Once your nomination has been approved, you will be invited to apply for the visa through the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security. On approval, you will be provided with a six-month visa to enter the UAE, if you are living outside the UAE or a one-month visa if you are currently residing in the UAE to delve into the opportunities and settle in your favourite emirate. You have to convert this temporary visa into a Residency Permit before it expires. A Dubai Investor Visa holder can apply for the Emirates ID card, open a bank account, obtain a UAE driving license, sign up for Etisalat or Du mobile and home packages and many other essential services to facilitate their business and personal life. Dubai Investor Visa can be obtained under four different categories: 

  • Visa by Investment in Residential Property: Investors who invest in residential property that is worth AED 1 million or above, with a maximum of 50% of the property value is under a mortgage can avail of a UAE property visa. Individuals with a share worth at least AED 1 million in a jointly owned property also qualify to obtain this visa. The term of the property visa ranges between 3-5 years (depending on the amount invested) which can remain for as long as they own property in the country. Be informed that the property you invest in must be a single freehold residential property not an off-plan residential property or commercial property. For a five-year property visa, you must own a property worth not less than AED 5 million. 

    Associated Visa Costs: Range between AED DH13,000 to -AED DH15,000

    5-year Golden Visa Fee: AED 650

    10-year Golden Visa Fee: AED 1150 

  • Visa by Investment in a Company: Entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in an existing business or starting a business in Dubai’s mainland or various free zones can apply for this visa type. With shares worth at least AED 72,000 in an existing company in the UAE or by setting up a company with a capital investment worth the same amount, you may obtain a UAE investment visa. There are over 2,100 types of business licenses to establish a business in the mainland. And the best part is you can now enjoy 100% ownership of your mainland company as you no more need a UAE native partner to start a mainland company in the wake of recent changes in regulations. Be informed that allowing full foreign ownership of onshore companies in specific commercial activities remains in line with the policies set by the UAE Cabinet. On the other hand, establishing a free zone company does not require you to involve local sponsors or partners enabling you to fully own your company that is exempt from taxation as well. The visa application process may vary depending on myriad variables such as the free zone where the firm is situated and the nature of the business. 

    Visa Associated Costs: Lie within the bracket of AED 3,447.50 – AED 3,972.50 

  • Long-Term Residence Visa: Under this Johnny-come-lately visa, investors who meet certain criteria can obtain a 5 or 10-year residency in UAE, as per the size of their investment in the nation. The Long-Term Residence Visa holder can apply visa for their spouse and children along with one manager and one advisor. In order to obtain a 10-year residency visa, the individual has to invest at least AED 10 million, either by depositing in an investment fund inside the nation or opening a company in the UAE with a capital investment of no less than AED 10 million or partnering in an old or a new company with a share value of at least AED10 million or having a total investment of AED 10 million in all areas mentioned. Contrary to this, to be eligible for a 5-year visa the individual is required to invest in a property worth at least AED 5 million or have an existing project of minimum capital of AED 500,000, subject to additional jurisdictions. Furthermore, the long-term visa is only granted to those who meet an additional set of standards set by GDRFA-Dubai. For example, individuals with specialized talents such as scientists and innovators in medical, scientific, research and technical fields.

    Long-Term Residence Visa Associated Cost: Approximately AED 3,500 – AED 5,472 (depends on various factors like the term) 

  • Retirement Visa: This 5-year long is specifically brought into existence to provide long-term residency to wealthy retirees aged above 55 years who wish to spend the rest of their life under the shade of Dubai’s skyscrapers watching the sun setting on the magical beaches. The elderly foreigner must have the necessary financial means to acquire a retirement residency visa. To allow 55-yo rich foreigners to live in UAE, the country needs investment worth AED 2 million in real estate from them or to verify if the applicant has accumulated savings worth AED 1 million or an active monthly income of at least AED 20,000. 

    UAE Retirement Visa Associated Costs: About AED 2,214.25

Besides the above-mentioned visas, there exist other visa types as well that can make Dubai your and your loved ones’ permanent address for a long time. These are – 

Dependent Visa/UAE Family Visa

With a valid Dubai Dependent Visa one can travel and stay with their family member living and working in Dubai. Depending on the nature of the relationship the dependent and the sponsor in Dubai share, this type of UAE Residence Visa is issued to close family members of expatriates in Dubai only if they fulfil certain conditions. One of those is that the minimum salary of the Dubai/UAE sponsor must be AED 4000 or AED 3000 (plus accommodation). The eligible individuals for UAE Family Visa are the spouse (husband or wife), unmarried daughters, sons below 18 years of age and parents of the applicant. The UAE Dependent Visa can be of mainly three types- 

  • Husband sponsoring wife & children 
  • Expat sponsoring parents 
  • Wife sponsoring family 

A UAE expat holding a valid residence visa and work permit can also sponsor visas to a housemaid, cook, driver, nanny and other domestic help from their native or other specific counties provided they follow with specific conditions laid down by the UAE Immigration Department. 

UAE Family Visa Associated Cost: Approx. AED 2,200 – AED 5,522 (depends on the current location of the dependent) 

Student Visa

Granted to the expatriate students who are over 18 years who have been accepted by an educational institution in UAE. A UAE Student Visa comes with one-year validity which is renewable for a similar period by presenting official proof of continuation of a study issued by the relevant higher educational institute in the UAE where the student is studying. However, outstanding school and university pass outs who have secured at least 95% and 3.75 GPA respectively in their course from their institution can avail of a 5-year visa to further study in the UAE. The UAE Student Visa can be obtained either by residents sponsoring their children or by one of the accredited universities/colleges in the UAE. 

UAE Student Visa Associated Costs: Up to AED3,000 (excluding health insurance) 

Freelance Visa

This is the visa type that allows you to legally live and work in the UAE as your own boss sans taking office space. In order to acquire your freelancer eligibility in Dubai, you need to choose one of three sectors – Education, Media and Tech. Resident and non-resident applicants need to obtain a residence visa and work permit, to operate as a freelancer in UAE. If you already hold a family residence visa, you just require a freelance permit, unlike non-sponsored ones who need both – a Freelance Visa as well as a work permit to work as a freelancer. Be informed, the freelance permit must be renewed annually. The free zones that currently provide a freelance permit are – Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, Fujairah Creative City, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone, Ajman Free zone and Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone. 

UAE Freelance Visa Associated Costs: Anywhere betweenAED 7,500 – AED 20,000 (depending on the free zone regulations and applicant’s business requirements) 

Green Visa

Have you heard about the new kid on the block? Launched recently as a part of the UAE’s residency reform initiatives on the occasion of UAE’s 50th, Green Visa is a more liberal form of Golden Visa and boasts several benefits that a typical residency visa doesn’t offer. The holder of UAE’s new Green Visa doesn’t need employer sponsorship to work in the country just like freelancer visa holdersand they can enjoy their stay in Dubai for 5 long years.Unlike the golden visa that was launched for high-net-worth individuals, the Green Visa doesn’t demand large investments from you. Highly skilled professionals, experts and top achievers are also eligible for Green Visa besides entrepreneurs and investors. Projecting the UAE as an ideal destination for work, education, and entrepreneurship for people in any field, this new visa is also for expatriate students aged 15 and above who are looking to gain work experience across several different sectors. As a Green Visa holder, you will be self-dependent and can sponsor your parents and children up to 25 unlike previously when visa holders were allowed to only sponsor their male dependents until they were 21. And the cherry on the top is you get a grace period of 90- 180 days to renew your Green Visa, unlike a regular UAE residency visa that must be renewed within the 30 days period. 

Green Visa Cost: Not disclosed officially yet. 

Talent Pass 

This one is so new that the ink isn’t dry yet. Click here to learn about Talent Pass, fresh addition to the family of expat-friendly visa schemes. 

Your Visa Service Provider in UAE 

With various visa schemes in UAE, the sky is the only limit if you are looking to immigrate to Dubai, UAE. You may easily get a standard long-term UAE residency either by purchasing real estate or entering into an employment contract or incorporating your own company in the UAE or studying in the UAE or simply by being a family member of a UAE resident or national. Selecting the most suitable visa for yourself and your dependents can be an easy breeze for you but choosing the best visa service provider in UAE is definitely not. Neither is finding the top business set-up advisor in Dubai, UAE. Only until you meet Adam Global. 

Whether you are seeking UAE business visa assistance or UAE retirement visa support, Adam Global has you covered. Zeroed on helping people bring their visions to fruition, we have a mixed bag of qualified specialists – business set-up advisors, visa consultants, accounting & finance professionals, management consultants, audit experts – to ensure you don’t have to go to various different service providers and get all your solutions under one roof. Click here to reach your one-stop shop so we can make you reach the destination of your dreams. 

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