Updated November 2023
Since its implementation, the UAE Golden Visa system has generated quite a buzz among certain groups of expatriates with plans of securing permanent residency in the United Arab Emirates.
With expanded categories and eligibility, the Golden Visa is expected to further boost the UAE’s position as one of the world’s foremost hubs for global business and investment.
With Wego here is everything you need to know about Golden Visa UAE, the current requirements, benefits, the application process and more.
Table of Contents
What is the Golden Visa UAE?
The Golden Visa is a long-term residency visa that enables foreign talents to live and work or study in the UAE for up to 10 years. This golden residency scheme is renewable and reserved for certain categories ranging from investors to individuals with exceptional talents.
The Golden Visa program is designed to attract foreign investment and expertise to the UAE. It offers a number of benefits to holders, including the ability to live and work in the country, access to top-quality education and healthcare, and the ability to sponsor family members for residence visas. The length of the Golden Visa is 10 years, after which it can be renewed.
Golden Visa UAE latest news and rules
As confirmed by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security graduates of accredited universities outside the UAE can now obtain a renewable Golden Visa for a period of 10 years, which enables them to reside in the UAE without the need for a sponsor or a host, with the aim of working, investing, setting up a business, or settling in the country.
However, the authorities have specific terms and conditions, with a fee of AED 350, according to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP), provided the following conditions are met:
- a passport with a validity of no less than 6 months, (without the need to be inside the UAE)
- the university from where the applicant has graduated from must be listed among the best 100 universities in the world, according to the international classification approved by the Ministry of Education.
- the cumulative average for bachelor’s graduates must not be less than 3.5 degrees
- the applicant also must have graduated no more than 2 years, and the Ministry of Education must approve the certificate.
As stated by the ICP, it is possible to apply through 4 channels available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including the UAECIP website or smart application, by accessing the smart services system either using the UAE digital identity or with a username, and then filling in the data, attaching the documents, paying the service fees, and evaluation of the service.
The applicant will further receive the transaction by e-mail within 48 hours. Furthermore, the channels also include the ICP’s Customer Happiness Centres where the applicant can submit an application after fulfilling all conditions and submitting all documents. The applicant can also apply at the typing offices accredited by the ICP.
The application is rejected electronically after 30 days if it is returned due to deficiencies in the data or the shortage of the required documents, and it is also completely rejected if it is returned 3 times due to these reasons.
In this case only the issuance fees and financial guarantees are refunded (if any) via credit card within a period not more than 6 months from the date of submitting the application, or through the other procedures used to recover fees by cheque or bank transfer within a period not more than five years.
Moreover, concerning the required documents and the prescribed fees, the ICP has clarified that a copy of the passport and a coloured personal photo must be submitted, noting that the visa issuance fee is AED 350, which includes AED 100 for application fees, AED 100 for issuance fees, AED 100 for smart services, and AED 50 for the ICP and electronic services.
Please note that if is not possible to enter the country during the prescribed period from the date of issuance of the visa, the visa validity can be extended for a period of 60 days for one time only.
Golden Visa UAE benefits and advantages
Some of the benefits of the Golden Visa in the UAE are as follows:
- an entry visa for six months with multiple entries followed by the issuance of residency permits
- a long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 10 years
- a self-sponsored visa
- ability to stay outside of the UAE for any amount of time without having their visa nullified
- sponsoring their family members, including spouses and children, regardless of their ages
- sponsoring their parents for a 10-year residency without the need to pay additional deposits
- sponsoring an unlimited number of domestic helpers
- allowing family members to stay in the UAE until the end of their permit duration in the event the primary holder of the Golden Visa passes away
Additionally, there are Golden Visa benefits specific to individual emirates as follows.
- Golden Visa holders in Abu Dhabi will be entitled to discounts and offers on cars, property, health care, hospitality, health insurance and banking services. The Resident’s office has teamed up with companies across various industries to offer the incentives.
- under the Abu Dhabi Residents Office’s commercial partnerships, Abu Dhabi golden visa holders will be entitled to discounts on selected properties from developer Imkan Properties.
- banks, including Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank, will offer real estate golden visa investors reduced mortgage fixed-interest rates and non-real estate investors attractive rates on savings accounts.
- the holders will also be entitled to reduced premiums on annual health insurance plans for families and individuals, with diverse network coverage and a bundle of benefits both inside and outside the UAE.
- Golden Visa holders will also be eligible for price reductions on cars. They will receive priority booking for new releases, in addition to special payment facilities, maintenance offers and licensing services.
- they will receive special offers for dining, spa treatments, gyms and stays at selected hospitality.
As stated by the authorities, foreign residents in Dubai who have a golden visa and a driving license from their home country can now take a UAE driver’s test without needing extra lessons.
Additionally, if the golden visa holders have a license from one of 32 approved countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, Qatar, Kuwait and Ireland, they will automatically be eligible for a UAE driver’s license.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has announced that a 10-year residency Golden Visa will be granted to outstanding expatriate students and their families in Dubai. They will also be given discounts to pursue their higher education in international university branches in Dubai.
Esaad privilege card
Golden Visa holders in Dubai will be gifted the coveted Esaad privilege card. The card will be provided free of charge to holders of 5-year and 10-year Golden Visas in Dubai.
Select categories of Golden Visa holders in Dubai will receive the Esaad card. These categories include
- investors in public investment funds
- real estate investors
- people with specialised talents and researchers in science and knowledge, such as scientists, doctors, specialists, inventors
- creative people in culture and art
- executive directors
- specialised academics
- professional sportspeople
- Ph.D. degree holders specialising in engineering or science, humanitarian aid workers
- outstanding university and high-school graduates
For details on what the benefits of the Esaad Card actually entail, please refer to our dedicated article below.
Golden Visa insurance
Golden Visa holders can apply for comprehensive insurance coverage that could range between AED 2,000 – 50,000 depending on several factors such as age, health, hospitals/clinics covered etc. The National Health Insurance Company (Daman) has introduced health insurance packages for Golden Visa holders valid for 1 year and can be renewed on a yearly basis. Premiums for all insurance plans will vary according to age and the plan option chosen.
Golden Visa UAE application
Application through ICA
All interested individuals who would like to apply for the Golden Visa may do so by applying for the visa online at the ICP smart services platform. The process is quite straightforward, with candidates required to submit the necessary documents and be willing to relocate to the UAE in accordance with their business venture.
Application through GDRFA
Eligible applicants can apply for the Golden Visa using the GDRFA website by following the steps given below:
- visit the GDRFA Dubai website.
- select your desired Golden Visa service
- fill out the visa application form
- attach the required documents, and pay the required fees
- submit the visa application
Apart from this, eligible applicants can also apply for the Golden Visa using the GDRFA Dubai Smart Application by following the steps given below:
- download the GDRFA-Dubai application (iOS, Android)
- applicants who do not have a registered account must register a new user account
- select the required service
- attach the required documents, and pay the required fees
- submit the Visa request
Please note that eligible candidates can also apply for UAE’s Golden Visa through AMER Center.
Golden Visa UAE requirements
Currently, the eligible categories of the UAE Golden Visa have been expanded. Among the latest additions specific to Abu Dhabi are senior scholars and clerics, elite specialists in the industry and the 4th industrial revolution, specialists in health fields, and specialists in education.
As per the latest development, those eligible for the Golden Visa UAE are as follows:
Golden Visa for preachers and religious researchers
Dubai has recently made a significant announcement in anticipation of Eid Al-Fitr. The government has decided to award Golden Visas to mosque imams, preachers, muezzins, muftis, and religious researchers who have dedicated their services to the country for a period of 20 years.
This decision aims to recognize and appreciate the immense contributions of these religious leaders toward the welfare of the community. Along with the Golden Visa, the recipients will also receive a generous cash reward on the occasion of Eid, which is a symbolic gesture of gratitude for their commitment and service.
Golden Visa UAE for real estate investors
Real estate investors may obtain the Golden Visa if they fulfil one of the following conditions:
- purchase a property worth no less than AED 2 million,
- purchase a property with a loan from specified local banks, or
- purchase one or more completed or off-plan properties of no less than AED 2 million from a list of approved local real estate companies
The registration documents issued by the real estate authorities in the Emirate are the primary documents needed to submit for applying to the Golden Visa in this category.
Please note that the residence visa expiry or cancellation in the UAE for expats has been extended from 90 days for property owners. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period.
If you own a property or a group of properties, you may be granted a Golden visa for a period of 5 years, renewable on the same conditions and without a sponsor, subject to the:
- provision of a letter from the land department of the respective emirate stating that he owns one or more properties whose value is not less than AED 2 million
- purchase of a property with a loan from specific local banks approved by the competent local entity.
Golden Visa UAE for public investors
Applicants might be granted a Golden Visa for a period of 10 years without a sponsor if they are investing in an investment fund. The following conditions have to be taken in account for the same.
- Provide a letter from a UAE-accredited investment fund confirming an AED two million deposit by the investor or,
- Providing a valid commercial or industrial license along with a memorandum of association indicating an investor capital of at least AED two million.
- Provide a letter from the Federal Tax Authority confirming an annual payment of no less than AED 250,000 to the government. Furthermore, it is essential that the invested capital is owned outright and not obtained through a loan. Additionally, furnishing evidence of medical insurance coverage for both the investor and their family, if applicable, is required.
- Furthermore, it is essential that the invested capital is owned outright and not obtained through a loan.
5. Additionally, furnishing evidence of medical insurance coverage for both the investor and their family, if applicable, is required.
Golden Visa UAE for entrepreneurs and startup owners
Startup investors may now obtain a Golden Visa, provided their company is registered within the UAE. It should fall under the small and medium enterprises (SME) category with annual revenues of AED 1 million or above. Furthermore, the Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs can also be obtained if:
- the person is a founder or one of the founders of a previous entrepreneurial project that was sold with a total value of not less than AED 7 million (USD 19,05,850)
- the approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas
If you are an entrepreneur, you may get a Golden visa if you own an economic project of a technical or future nature based on risk & innovation. In addition, you must have an approval letter from each of the following:
- an auditor in the UAE stating that the project value is not less than 500,000 dirhams
- the authorities in the emirate stating that the project is of a technical or future nature
- an accredited business incubator in the UAE to establish the proposed activity in the country.
Golden Visa UAE for exceptional talents
Under the category of exceptionally talented individuals, talented individuals in the field of art, culture, digital technology, sports, innovation, medicine, law and others are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme. Some outstanding specialised talents include:
- creative people of culture and art
- an approval letter from the Department of Culture and Arts in the respective emirate.
- a recommendation letter from the General Sports Authority or one of the sports councils
- doctoral degree holders
Moreover, the 10-year visa will be awarded solely based on the individual’s talent. It will not depend on educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional status. However, the recommendation or approval of a federal or local government entity will be required.
Golden Visa UAE for executives
- a copy of a university degree accredited by the Ministry of Education with educational attainment not less than a bachelor’s degree
- a letter of experience of no less than 5 years holding the same position
- a salary certificate with a salary of AED 50,000, at least
- a valid work contract.
Golden Visa UAE for specialists in engineering and science
The requirement includes a copy of a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree certified by the Ministry of Education and a work contract.
Subjects relating to engineering and science include:
- epidemiology and viruses
- artificial intelligence
- big data
- computer engineering
- electronic engineering
- software engineering
- electrical engineering
- genetics and biotechnology engineering.
Golden Visa UAE for scientists
The Golden Visa will now be granted to scientists and researchers who meet the following conditions:
- have a PhD or Master’s degree in engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the world’s best universities.
- must have a recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council to avail of this Visa or a letter from the Secretariat of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence stating that the applicant has been awarded the Medal of Scientific Excellence.
Golden Visa UAE for skilled professionals
A major expansion to the Golden Visa eligibility category, the Golden Visa for skilled professionals applies to all fields and disciplines, including but not limited to education, law, science and engineering, information technology, social sciences, and numerous others.
Skilled professionals can qualify for the Golden Visa scheme, provided:
- they hold a valid contract of employment in the UAE
- the job must fall under the occupational level one or two as defined by the Ministry of Human Resources Emiratisation.
- the minimum monthly salary is not less than AED 30,000
- the skilled worker must have a bachelor’s degree as well.
Please note that skilled professionals (classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification) are eligible for an extended 6 months grace period.
Golden Visa UAE for students
Students with exceptional academic excellence, having obtained high scores either in UAE secondary schools or universities, are also eligible to apply for the 10-year Visa or the Golden Visa scheme.
If you are a high school student and a national-level topper (with a minimum grade of 95 percent in public or private secondary school), you may be granted a Golden visa without a sponsor, subject to submission of a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Education (Emirates Schools Establishment).
Furthermore, talented students who have studied at the world’s best universities are also eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme. Criteria include academic performance/cumulative average, year of graduation and university classification.
If you are an outstanding university student, you may be granted a Golden visa for a period of 10 years without a sponsor, provided that:
- the university must be rated either A or B class by the Ministry of Education
- a recommendation letter from the university or an accredited graduation certificate or an accredited academic record stating that the student’s cumulative GPA is not less than 3.5 for A-class universities and 3.8 for B-class universities is submitted.
- it has not been more than 2 years since you graduated.
Outstanding students of foreign universities may be granted a Golden visa for a period of 10 years without a sponsor, provided that:
- the university is rated among the best 100 universities globally according to the rating system recognized by the Ministry of Education
- the student’s cumulative GPA is not less than 3.5
- it has not been more than 2 years since you graduated
- the graduation certificate is accredited by the Ministry of Education
Please note that students who have completed their studies are eligible for the extended 6 months grace period.
Golden Visa UAE for humanitarian pioneers
If you are a pioneer of humanitarian work, you may get a Golden visa for 10 years. You must be one of the following categories to qualify as a pioneer of humanitarian work:
- members and outstanding employees who have worked for international and regional organisations for a minimum of five years
- members and outstanding employees who have worked for civil associations and institutions of public interest for a minimum of five years
- individuals who have received an appreciation award from a local, regional or international organisation that focuses on humanitarian work
- funders of humanitarian work provided that the value of the support does not fall below two million UAE dirhams or its equivalent.
Golden Visa UAE for doctors and nurses
The UAE has been granting doctors and nurses, the first line of defence, a long-term residency in “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices”.
Frontline heroes who displayed extraordinary effort in crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, also may get the Golden visa with a recommendation from a competent authority. Frontline heroes include nurses, medical assistants, lab technicians, pharmacologists and other cadres approved by the Frontline Heroes Office. Seven centres affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship have been established across the Emirates for doctors and nurses who wish to apply for visas in person.
Doctors will need to provide an approval Letter from the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE to practice the profession of medicine.
Golden Visa for exceptional coders
The UAE’s strategy to grant 100,000 golden visas to exceptional computer programmers from all over the world has been announced. To train 100,000 youngsters in computer programming, the Emirates has teamed up with various tech powerhouses such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The National Programme for Coders has initiated the application process. Application eligibility extends to:
- distinguished experts and talents who achieved success in various areas of coding
- those who work for pioneering international technological firms
- graduates of software engineering, computer sciences, hardware engineering, information technology, artificial intelligence, data science, big data, and electrical engineering.
Golden Visa expanded categories for Abu Dhabi
The emirate of Abu Dhabi has recently announced an expansion to the eligible categories for the Golden Visa. Please note that the following criteria apply to all categories to be eligible.
- must be employed in the UAE
- must hold a role classified by MoHRE’s occupational classification scheme
- the minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- minimum monthly salary of AED 30,000 or equivalent
- hold a valid practising licence in the UAE if required (such as a physician, pharmacist, teacher, etc.)
- salary certificate issued by the employer with a bank statement for the last 6 months showing a monthly salary of an amount no less than AED 30,000
The new categories, along with their respective requirements, are as follows.
Senior scholars and clerics
A recommendation letter from the Ministry of Culture and Youth or competent local authority.
Specialists in industry and the 4th industrial revolution
A recommendation letter from the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology or competent local authority.
Specialists in health fields
A recommendation letter from the Ministry of Health or the Abu Dhabi Department of Health.
Specialists in education
A recommendation letter from the Ministry of Education or the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge.
- an employment contract approved in the UAE
- evidence that the applicant holds a position classified as level 1 or 2 by MOHRE’s occupational classification scheme
- attested bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
- a valid practising licence in the emirate or UAE for professions that require this
- employment certificate
Golden Visa UAE price
The price of Golden Visa UAE may vary based on the category of the visa. If you apply for the visa from the UAE, it will cost between AED 2,800 and AED 3,800. Meanwhile, if you apply from outside the UAE, the cost will be between AED 3,800 and AED 4,800, with an AED 150 application fee, and about AED 1,000 for a medical examination of the Emirates ID
Furthermore, the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) has now revised the entry permit fees for those applying for the 10-year Golden Visa UAE.
The price for the six-month entry permit has now been updated to AED 1,250. The AED 1,250 charge includes an AED 1,000 issuance fee, AED 100 application fee, AED 100 smart services fee, AED 28 electronic services fee, and AED 22 for ICP.
Golden Visa UAE validity
The UAE government has increased the validity of all categories of the Golden Visa from 5 years to 10 years, making it an even more attractive option for those looking to live and work in the UAE. Moreover, Golden Visa holders are entitled to a multiple-entry visa for a period of 6 months to complete the Golden Visa procedures.
They are also allowed to stay outside of the UAE for more than 6 months. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country.
The grace period after visa expiry or cancellation has been extended from 30 days to 6 months for Golden visa holders and their family members. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country.
Fines do not apply during the grace period. However, if the Golden visa holder fails to renew or cancel the visa of his dependents, the dependents could be liable to pay an overstay fine.
Golden Visa UAE extension
As confirmed by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security UAE (ICP), you can now extend or cancel your entry permit via a personal account online. This refers to the document issued to foreign nationals entering the UAE to finalize their residency visa.
The new policy is valid for the following:
- Two months for normal visas or green residency visa applications.
- Six months with multiple entries for golden visa applications.