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Explained: The UAE Golden, Green and Freelance Visas

The following article was originally published for BSA by Arabian Business.

The expatriate population of the UAE stands at 8.8 million, making up approximately 89 per cent of the total population. Previously, all residents who are not UAE or GCC nationals needed to have a sponsor for their residency, subject to renewal after a maximum of 2 or 3 years. However, the amendments which began in 2019 have offered new paths for foreign residents to reside in the country.

UAE Golden Visa

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced the launch of the ‘Golden Visa’ in 2019, which grants some residents long-term residency for up to 5 or 10 years, particularly targeting individuals in the following categories: investors, entrepreneurs and specialized talent including outstanding students, medical professionals, scientists, researchers, doctors, lawyers, and artists.

Individuals under the investor category are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa subject to the requirements set by the government on the type and value of the investment. Those who are entitled to the Golden Visa under the category are mainly investors that make public investments of at least AED 10 million, or a deposit of at least AED 10 million in an investment fund in the UAE. The entitlement expands to individuals who establish or partner with a UAE-based company with a capital of not less than AED 10 million, provided investment in sectors other than real estate is not less than 60 per cent of the total investment. Likewise, the investment must remain for a minimum of three years and must not be loaned.

Moreover, persons with specialized talents are required to prove high levels of accreditation in the field in which they specialize in order to be granted a visa. The Golden Visa extends to the spouse and children, as well as business partners and advisors. The Dubai government granted the Golden Visa to frontline responders in 2020, recognizing their persistent efforts and sacrifices during the global pandemic, and more recently to humanitarian workers.

The main objective of the golden visa is to give security to all talented expatriates and investors who are continuously promoting and contributing to the UAE's economic and social development and growth.

UAE Green Visa

On the other hand, a new visa category was announced by the UAE government on the 5th of September – the ‘Green Visa’. Similarly, the Green Visa also aims to target skilled workers, investors, entrepreneurs, outstanding students, and talented graduates, but what makes it different from the Golden Visa?

Firstly, the Green Visa will allow foreign residents to sponsor their parents and sons until the age of 25, as opposed to the traditional rule whereby a parent could only be sponsor sons until the age of 18. Additionally, the Green Visa will not be related to work permits, and it will permit whose visa has expired or those who have lost their jobs to remain the UAE for 180 days, in comparison with the general grace period of 30 days, this is considered a major incentive as most visas are tied to employment. The Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi highlighted that “the Golden Visa and the Green Visa complement one another”.

UAE Freelancers Visa

An additional visa category was also announced on Sunday, titled the ‘Freelancers Visa’, making it easier for those who are self-employed to work without obtaining work permits and employment contracts, this aims to draw specialists, professionals, and retirees to fundamental sectors in the near future.

With the new visa system, the UAE is supporting families as well as the economy. Residents are now able to take an integrated path from entering the country to attaining a long-term Golden Visa. The system aims to attract more global talent and investment for its significant economic development plans as part of “Projects of the 50” campaign, honoring the 50th anniversary of the UAE and outlining a roadmap for the country’s future growth and strategic development in the next 50 years, as envisioned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Written by Omar Al Masri, Paralegal.
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