Updated 10 May 2022
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 per cent 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 is the Golden Visa UAE?
The Golden Visa is a long-term residency visa which 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.
Golden Visa UAE benefits
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 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 licence from their home country can now take a UAE driver’s test without needing extra lessons.
Additionally, If the golden visa holders have a licence 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 licence.
Golden Visa UAE eligibility
Generally speaking, investors, entrepreneurs, people with specialized talents, researchers in various fields of science and knowledge, and outstanding students displaying promising scientific potential are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa.
Other categories include individuals who are nominated for the Golden Visas by distinguished Emiratis or government institutions and those who apply online. Individuals investing AED 2 million in property may also be eligible.
As per the Official Portal of the UAE Government, those eligible for the Golden Visa are as follows:
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, or
- purchase a property with a loan from specified local banks, or
- purchase one or more off-plan properties no less than AED 2 million from a list of approved local real estate companies
Entrepreneurs may obtain a Golden Visa if they fulfil one of the following conditions:
- owner or partner in a start-up registered as a small and medium enterprise (SMEs) in the UAE with the company generating annual revenues of not less than AED 1 million, or
- obtain approval for a start-up idea from an official business incubator or from the Ministry of Economy or other competent local authorities, or
- have founded an entrepreneurial project that was sold for a total amount of not less than AED 7 million
Inventors, innovators, and exceptional talents in vital fields such as culture, art, sports and digital technology can obtain a Golden visa regardless of their educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional level. The visa requires a recommendation or approval from a federal or local government entity.
Scientists and professionals
Scientists and researchers with high achievements and influence in their field can get the Golden visa based on a recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council. A candidate should have a PhD or a Master’s degree in one of the disciplines of engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the best universities in the world, as well as substantial research achievements.
Professionals or highly-skilled workers with high educational qualifications and professional experience in all disciplines, including medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences can get the Golden Visa if they:
- have a valid employment contract in the UAE
- are classified in the first or second occupational level as per the classification of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- have a monthly salary of not less than AED 30,000
Outstanding students and graduates
High-performing students in the UAE’s secondary schools and outstanding graduates from the UAE’s universities and the best 100 universities worldwide are eligible for the Golden Visa. Criteria include academic performance/cumulative average, year of graduation and the university classification.
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
Frontline workers with extraordinary efforts in crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic are also eligible for the Golden Visa.
The individuals listed under the specialized talents category include 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.
Golden Visa UAE for doctors
The UAE has been granting doctors, the first line of defence, a long-term residency in “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices”.
All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the Golden Visa between July 2021 and September 2022 through the ICA’s golden residency services for doctors.
Doctors and specialists must meet at least two of the following conditions in their respective fields of work:
- A PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world.
- 10-year professional experience in the applicant’s field along with a PhD degree.
- An award of appreciation in the field of the applicant’s work.
- Contribution to major scientific research.
- Published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications.
- Membership in an organisation related to the field.
- Specialisation in areas of priority to the UAE.
Seven centres affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship have been established across the Emirates for doctors who wish to apply for visas in person.
Golden Visa UAE application
All interested individuals who would like to apply for the Golden Visa may do so by applying for the visa online at the ICA 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.
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.
Golden Visa UAE validity
As mentioned, the holders of the UAE Golden Visa can stay outside the UAE for as long as they need without worrying about losing their residency. Previously, they were only allowed to spend 6 months outside the UAE before they lose their residency.
Golden Visa holders can sponsor their family members, including their spouses and children, regardless of age. They have the ability to sponsor an endless number of support services (domestic help).
Other privileges for family members is including the ability to remain in the UAE if the Golden Visa holder passes away till the end of their residence permit.