In the past year, the United Arab Emirates has introduced long-term residence visas for different categories of residents, including investors, entrepreneurs and specialized talents.
The country debuted the “Golden Visa” last year, where specialists can be granted a ten-year permanent UAE visa. Earlier this week, the “Green Visa” was introduced, allowing highly skilled individuals to sponsor themselves without being tied to an employer. The government also announced a new “Freelancer Visa.”
The system allows UAE residents and foreigners with their families who wish to work, live and study in the country, to have a long-term residence visa without the need of an Emirati sponsor.
“Projects of the 50”
Earlier this week, the UAE announced it will launch fifty new economic initiatives to boost the country's economic competitiveness and attract $150 billion (AED 550 billion) in foreign direct investment in the next nine years.
One of the key legislative changes being introduced as part of “Projects of the 50” is a restructuring of the entry and residency system, including the announcement of the Green Visa, the Freelancer Visa, and expanding the eligibility of the Golden Visa.
Announced last year, the Golden Visa is a five or ten-year permanent UAE visa granted to doctors, scientists, innovators, researchers, outstanding students, humanitarian workers, investors, entrepreneurs, managers, CEOs, and specialists in the fields of science, engineering, health, education, business management and technology.
The official Emirates News Agency (WAM) said Golden Visas are granted to specialists for “their contribution in enhancing the development of their respective sectors.”
The Golden Visa aims to attract and encourage top international skillsets and talents in the UAE, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid had said.
Eligibility for the visa was expanded earlier this week, and specialists from various fields can now apply for it.
The UAE presented the new visa scheme, the Green Visa, which distinguishes between work permits and residency visas.
The Green Visa targets highly skilled individuals, investors, entrepreneurs and top students and graduates. It will also ease visa restrictions for freelancers, widows, and divorced people, among other things.
Individuals who hold Green Visas will be self-dependent and can sponsor parents and children up to 25 years instead of 18 years
Previously, the UAE tied residency status for expats with employment.
Employers were considered the expat’s sponsor and if an expat lost his/her job, they were forced to leave the country or find new employment to stay in the UAE within one month.
Additionally, a parent previously could sponsor their daughter’s residency visa until she is married, however, sons were only allowed to be sponsored until the age of 18.
The “Freelancers Visa” is the first federal scheme of its kind, and enables self-employers to sponsor themselves.
Other specific regulatory changes include the extension of business trip permits from three months to six months, sponsorship of parents under the visa of direct family members, one-year residency extension for humanitarian cases, extension of children’s age limit on parents’ residency from 18 to 25 years and an extension of grace period upon job loss or retirement to 90-180 days.
The UAE is issuing long-term residence visas to ease visa-related restrictions and attract foreign investors and talents to live, work and study in the UAE without a sponsor and with 100 percent ownership of their business, according to WAM.
How to apply for “Green Visa,” “Golden Visa”
UAE residents can access the Golden Visa application system through the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship website: https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/
In the “Golden Services” section, a qualified person can submit a “nomination request” if he or she has not yet been nominated to receive a long-term visa.
People in the UAE can reach the authority’s call center by calling 600522222.
The UAE has not yet announced the application procedures for the Green Visa.