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Updated 17 February 2021

Since its implementation in 2019, 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. 

The Golden Visa system allows foreign nationals to live, work, conduct business and study in the UAE without requiring a national sponsor. Foreign business owners and investors are also allowed 100 percent ownership of their business within the UAE. These visas will be issued for 5 or 10 years and will automatically be renewed.

Here is everything you need to know about the Golden Visa UAE, the current requirements, benefits, application process and more.

What does the Golden Visa actually offer?

The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following specified groups; investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.

The main benefit would probably be security; through the issuance of the Golden Visa, the UAE government has made it clear that they are committed to providing expatriates, investors and essentially everyone looking to make the UAE their home an extra reason to feel secure about their future.

What are the requirements for the Golden Visa?

The requirements vary according to each group but are contingent on the individuals’ adherence to the terms and conditions under which the Golden Visa was granted.

10-year visa eligibility requirements

Investors

  • Having no less than AED 10 million worth of public investment, either in the form of an investment fund or a company
  • At least 60 percent of the total investment must NOT be in the form of real estate
  • The invested amount must not be loaned, or in case of assets, investors must assume full ownership
  • The investor must be able to retain the investment for a minimum of three years   

This 10-year long visa may be extended to include business partners, providing that each partner contributes AED 10 million. The long-term visa can also include the holder’s spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor. This visa may also be renewed.

Individuals with specialized talents

The individuals listed under the specialized talents category includes doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists. These individuals may be granted a 10-year visa following accreditations granted by their respective departments and fields. The visa also extends to their spouses and children.

5-year visa eligibility requirements

Real estate investors

The requirements for the 5-year visa are largely similar to those of the general investor. The only difference being the amount of investment required is set at AED 5 million. The visa also extends to their dependents. 

Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are open to gain a 5-year residency visa in the UAE. The eligibility requirements extend to having an existing project with a minimum capital of AED 500,000, or those who have the approval of an accredited business incubator in the country.

Entrepreneurs are allowed a multi-entry visa for six months, renewable for another six months. The long-term visa includes the spouse and children, a partner and three executives.

Outstanding students

Exceptional high school and university students are eligible for a 5-year residency visa in the UAE. High school students who rank top in the country (a minimum grade of 95 percent) and students from certain universities with a GPA of 3.75 or higher upon graduation.   

The Golden Business Visa

In addition to the aforementioned, foreign nationals who are looking to set up their business in the UAE may also apply for permanent residency (5 years) through the Golden Business Visa scheme. To apply, simply follow the steps above by visiting the aforementioned electronic platform.

How do I apply for the UAE Golden Visa?

All interested individuals who would like to apply for the Golden Visa may do so by applying for the visa online at the following electronic 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.

How much is the price for the Golden Visa?

For the 5 and 10-year UAE Golden Visa, the prices are AED 650 and AED 1,150 respectively.

What is the Thrive in Abu Dhabi initiative?

The Thrive in Abu Dhabi initiative is essentially a long-term visa citizenship program with the aim of encouraging foreign professionals, students and investors to make Abu Dhabi their home.    

 

In a bid to accelerate Abu Dhabi’s sustainable development framework, the initiative may just offer the much-coveted UAE citizenship to talented expatriates who are able to contribute to key sectors such as, research and development, healthcare and education. The government of Abu Dhabi promises a welcoming and supportive environment for those seeking to settle down along with their families.

In regards to the creative sector, Abu Dhabi has long been regarded as a cultural and creative hub with its numerous top museums, art galleries, musical recitals and concerts, along with a strong artistic community. Some of the most notable institutions include the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Warehouse241, Abu Dhabi Art annual fair, Qasr Al Hosn and Cultural Foundation and the much-anticipated Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim.

It’s also worth noting that the creative visa builds upon Abu Dhabi’s five-year Culture Sector Strategy unveiled in November 2019 by the Department of Culture and Tourism. It covers five strategic objectives, which are:

  • preserving and sustaining Abu Dhabi’s cultural heritage
  • increasing awareness of, and engagement with, cultural heritage and the arts
  • stimulating creativity as a driver for education and social change; building and enabling capacity in Abu Dhabi’s culture sector
  • contributing to economic growth and diversification.

The campaign also emphasizes support to start-ups by way of initiatives as Hub71, which is a global start-up ecosystem currently home to more than 100 start-ups.

Students and innovators are also among the highly-sought-after categories of the initiative. High school and university students exhibiting high potential or those currently pursuing their PhDs are invited to broaden their horizons and take up fulfilling career paths by enrolling at one of several world-class academic institutions in Abu Dhabi. Such academic institutions include NYU Abu Dhabi, Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University and the new Mohamed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence.

Innovators are also welcome to take up the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality through grants, funding and incentives. They may do so by becoming a part of a dynamic R&D ecosystem pioneering new ideas and technologies in a number of scientific fields.

One such endeavor is the accelerator program Ghadan 21, a competitive academic research grant program aiming to award AED 40 million to those able to meet a series of strict criteria imposed by the Department of Education and Knowledge. 

To learn more about the Thrive in Abu Dhabi initiative, please do visit the official Abu Dhabi Golden Visa website.