Updated January 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.
Here is everything you need to know about Golden Visa UAE, the current requirements, benefits, application process and more.
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, and 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
The validity of the Golden Visa has been increased to 10 years for all types of Golden Visa categories. According to Mark Dorzi, the Director of Operations at the Abu Dhabi Residents Office, the Golden Visa is now valid for 10 years and gives the holder the right to settle and work in the Emirate for a decade.
Moreover, another expansion to the Golden Visa’s eligible categories has recently been announced by the UAE authorities. In addition to the general skilled professionals’ category, the government of Abu Dhabi will allow the following types of specialists to be eligible for the Golden Visa:
- senior scholars and clerics
- elite specialists in the industry and 4th industrial revolution
- specialists in health fields
- specialists in education
Requirements and criteria for these categories are detailed below.
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 a range of 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 and 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.
Dubai remains to be a preferred destination for long-term residency, given the impact of initiatives such as the Golden Visa programme.— Business Dubai (@BusinessDubai) July 1, 2022
Learn more about the different visa options for living and working in Dubai – https://t.co/aTudCSd16K#BusinessDubai #DubaiBeyondPossible pic.twitter.com/SpzVoTc8sC
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
The Dubai Media Office has announced that 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
- PhD 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 who are 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 requirements
Requirements for the Golden visa depend on the type of residence, whether investor, talent, entrepreneur, etc.
If you invest in an investment fund, you may be granted a Golden Visa for a period of 10 years without a sponsor, subject to the:
- submission of a letter from an investment fund accredited in the UAE stating that the investor has a deposit of AED two million, or
- submission of a valid commercial licence or industrial licence and a memorandum of the association stating that the investor’s capital is not less than AED two million
- submission of a letter from the Federal Tax Authority stating that the investor pays the government no less than AED 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand) annually.
Additionally, you must:
- own the invested capital completely; it must not be a loan and
- provide proof of medical insurance for himself and his family (if any).
Real estate investors:
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 2 million dirhams
- purchase of a property with a loan from specific local banks approved by the competent local entity.
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.
Doctors and scientists:
- an approval Letter from the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE to practice the profession of medicine (for doctors)
- a letter of recommendation from the Emirates Council of Scientists 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 (for scientists).
Creative people in the fields of culture and art:
- an approval letter from the department of culture and arts in the respective emirate.
- 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.
- a recommendation letter from the General Sports Authority or one of the sports councils
Specialists in engineering and science:
- a copy of a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree certified by the Ministry of Education and a work contract.
Outstanding High school students:
If you are a high school student and a national-level topper (with a minimum grade of 95 per cent 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).
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
Pioneers of humanitarian work:
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.
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.
Golden Visa UAE application on 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.
How to apply for a Golden Visa UAE through GDRFA?
Eligible applicants to 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 eligibility
As of now, 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 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
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.
Golden Visa UAE for entrepreneurs and startup owners
Startup investors may now obtain a Golden Visa, provided their company is registered within the UAE and 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
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. Outstanding specialised talents include:
- creative people of culture and art
- specialists in scientific fields
- doctoral degree holders and
- specialists in the fields of engineering and science.
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.
Moreover, the 10-year Visa will be awarded solely based on the talent of the individual. 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 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.
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.
Furthermore, talented students who have studied at the world’s 100 best universities are also eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme. Criteria include academic performance/cumulative average, year of graduation and university classification.
Please note that students who have completed their studies are eligible for the extended 6 months grace period.
Golden Visa UAE for humanitarian pioneers
Humanitarian pioneers such as the following can get the Golden visa:
- distinguished members of international and regional organizations
- outstanding members of associations of public benefit
- recipients of recognition awards in humanitarian fields
- distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts
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”.
As of late, nurses and medical staff, the unsung heroes of the UAE’s COVID-19 fight, are now also eligible for receiving the prestigious Golden Visa. 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.
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 in order to be eligible.
- must be employed in the UAE
- must hold a role classified by MoHRE’s occupational classification scheme
- minimum educational level of 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 a competent local authority.
Specialists in industry and 4th industrial revolution
A recommendation letter from the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology or a 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 cost of the UAE Golden Visa largely depends on the type of service and visa category. For individuals applying from the UAE, the Golden Visa will cost between AED 2,800 and AED 3,800. Those applying outside the country will be charged anywhere between AED 3,800 and AED 4,800.
The applicant will also need to spend approximately Dh1,000 for a medical examination and a processing charge for an Emirates ID. Additionally, they will need to purchase UAE health insurance, which starts at Dh800 and varies in cost.
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.