Updated February 2023
The United Arab Emirates has become an increasingly popular destination for expats worldwide. Opportunities exist all over this culturally diverse country, mostly centered around Abu Dhabi and Dubai. With its cosmopolitan appeal and established digital infrastructure, the UAE naturally becomes one of the most sought-after destinations for entrepreneurs and businesses to ply their trade.
Here’s all you need to know about applying for a UAE business visa; its benefits, requirements, and more.
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What is the UAE business visa?
The UAE business visa allows foreigners and expatriates to obtain long-term visas for themselves and their dependents. The UAE business visa is a part of the Golden Visa residency program, first implemented in 2019. The Golden Visa system enables expats to study, live and work in the UAE without a national sponsor and grants them 100 percent ownership of their business in the UAE.
Any professionals having entrepreneurial experience are eligible for the UAE business visa. Entrepreneurs who have their own businesses set up and wish to do so again in the UAE can apply for a business visa.
Those who reside outside the UAE can apply for a 6-month visa which will be temporary and can be used for multiple entries. Visa applicants who reside in the UAE themselves will be provided with a 1-month visa. In both cases, the visas should be converted to residency permits before the temporary visa expires.
UAE business visa benefits
Over the years, the UAE has streamlined the process of setting up business in recent years, by facilitating streamlined regulations and massively reducing red tape to nurture a conducive business environment. If you are thinking about launching in the Emirates, there is a healthy selection of locations to choose from.
Prime among these are free trade zones that offer businesses competitive set-up packages, attractive incentives, and reduced costs and taxes, in addition to other benefits, like the Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone (ADAFZ) in the capital city of Abu Dhabi.
With a UAE business visa, the applicant is allowed to enter the country for a period of 6 months with a multiple-entry visa and can facilitate the procedures of establishing the business, exploring possibilities for growth and settling in. The applicant can also nominate up to three senior staff from the firm to obtain a UAE residency.
UAE business visa holders can sponsor their dependents but are subject to the requirements and conditions laid down by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security.
UAE business visa requirements
All applicants must meet the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security requirements. The requirements include a health assessment and a background check.
To be able to substantiate your experience as an entrepreneur in the UAE, you will need to prove that you have been a majority shareholder of a start-up or a member of its senior leadership. You must also propose a business idea or plan that you wish to bring to life in the UAE. Moreover, you must be willing to relocate to the UAE and establish a business legally in any one of the seven emirates.
The UAE business visa under the Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs can be obtained under the following circumstances:
- 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 19,05,850.80).
- the approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas.
- qualifying for a business visa does not assure that the applicant will indeed receive the visa. Specialized committees review the application and the relevant documents and will grant the visa approval accordingly.
The following are the primary documents that are required to be submitted to apply for a business visa in the UAE:
- copy of a valid passport
- 2 – 3 passport-size photographs
- cover stating the purpose and duration of your stay.
- proof of investment (if any)
UAE business visa application
To successfully apply for the visa, your nomination must first be approved by an incubator supported by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The government-approved incubators are HUB71 ([email protected]) in Abu Dhabi and AREA2071 ([email protected]) in Dubai.
You will need to follow the procedure mentioned below to apply for a business visa:
- get your nomination approved by any one of the business incubators supported by the UAE government.
- receive an invitation in your registered email to apply for a UAE business visa from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
- if your nomination is approved, gather and submit the necessary documents to complete your application process.
- once the business visa application is approved, you will receive an email with the payment details and voucher. You can then pay the required fee and download your business visa.
Please note: If your business visa application is rejected, you can apply for it again, but only after 90 days. Since getting the necessary approvals and gathering the documents can be tedious, we suggest you hire a local business consultant or a legal advisor to help you through the application process.
UAE business visa processing time
The application procedure will take around 60 days, including 30 days for the initial application review and another 30 days for the applicant to fulfil all the requirements once they have been successfully nominated.
UAE business visa extension
As mentioned earlier, applicants residing outside the UAE will be given a 6-month visa to enter the UAE and explore the opportunities. Before this temporary visa expires, they will be required to convert it into a residency permit. Those residing in the UAE will be granted a temporary one-month visa and need to convert it into a residency permit before the visa expires.
Such visas can be converted into residency permits conveniently at SERVICES1 in Emirates Towers, Dubai or through the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Ports Security.