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UAE Launches Long-Term Residency System for Non-Citizens

A Long-Term Residency Scheme In The UAE

The UAE recently allowed select categories of foreigners to apply for long-term visas for themselves and their families, including investors and entrepreneurs who meet certain conditions, pursuant to Cabinet Decision No. 56/2018 on the Regulation of Residence Permits for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Individuals with Specialised Talents. In accordance with the Decision, a five- or ten-year long-term residence visa system will be applied for certain categories of investors, entrepreneurs and professional talent, which will automatically be renewed when the same conditions are met.

The new long-term visa system allows residents of the UAE, foreign expatriates and their families who wish to come to work, live and study in the UAE to enjoy a long-term stay without the need for an Emirati sponsor. The Decision is intended to attract investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talent and researchers in the fields of science who have played a major role in the development of the UAE, to be permanent partners in the development process in the country.

Impact Of The Newly Launched Residency Scheme On The UAE’S Economy

It is expected that the long-term residency scheme will stimulate the economy in Dubai and the rest of the UAE, enabling expatriates to focus on investing in the UAE rather than buying property and other assets in their home country. It is hoped that high net-worth individuals will also be attracted by long-term investment in the UAE.

The new scheme comes at an opportune time with the issuance of the new Foreign Direct Investment Law (Federal Law No. 19/2018), as it will provide greater stability for foreign investors who may own companies in the mainland in the UAE. The new Foreign Direct Investment Law allows 100% foreign share ownership within the UAE, contrary to the previous general rule which required a local shareholder to have a minimum share of 51% in business and investment projects within the UAE.

Categories Covered By The Long-Term Residence System

The first batch of qualified individuals to have been granted the long-term residence visa consisted of 6 800 investors and residents, with approximate total investments in the country worth AED 100 billion.

A. Categories Entitled to Apply for a Renewable Ten-Year Residence Visa Without a Sponsor:

1. Investors in Public Investments of at Least AED 10 Million The investment may take any of the following forms:

• a deposit of at least AED 10 million in an investment fund inside the country; • establishing a company in the UAE with a capital of not less than AED 10 million;

• partnering in an existing or a new company with a share value of not less than AED 10 million; or

• having a total investment of not less than AED 10 million in all areas mentioned above, on condition that the investment in sectors other than real estate is not less than 60% of the total investment.


• The amount invested must not be loaned.

• The investment should be retained for at least three years from the date of issuance of the residence visa.

• There should be a financial solvency up to AED 10 million.

Under this category:

• The long-term visa can include the spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.

• Investors from abroad may apply for an interim six-month multiple-entry visa.

2. Talented Individuals

The visa privileges are granted to specialised talents and researchers in the fields of science, including doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors and innovators. A visa will also be granted to the individual’s spouse and children. All categories of talent are required to have a valid work contract and specialise in priority areas in the UAE.

B. Categories Eligible for a Five-Year Residence Visa Without a Sponsor:

1. Investors in a Real Estate Property in the UAE

Granting a visa is subject to the following conditions:

• The investor must invest in real estate property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million.

• The amount invested in real estate must not be on loan basis.

• The property must be retained for at least three years from the date of issuance of the residence visa.

• Financial solvency.

2. Entrepreneurs

This category includes those having an existing successful project in a certified field with a minimum capital of AED 500 000, or those who have the approval of an accredited business incubator in the country.

Entrepreneur from abroad may apply for an interim six-month multi-entry visa, renewable for another six months. The long-term visa includes the spouse and children, a partner and three executives.

3. Outstanding Students

This includes:

• outstanding students with a minimum grade point average of 95% in public and private secondary schools; and

• university students within and outside the country having a grade point average of at least 3.75 upon graduation in identified scientific disciplines.

The visa extends to students’ families as well. Outstanding students from abroad may apply for an interim six-month multi-entry visa.

Gold Card Permanent Residency System For UAE Expats

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has, following the issuance of the aforesaid Cabinet Decision, established a new “Gold Card” permanent residence system for certain investors, entrepreneurs, professional talents and researchers in the fields of science, in order to facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment.

Although details of how to apply for a Gold Card visa have not yet been published, we are expecting a formal announcement of the executive regulations of the Decree in the near future. When the exact details are revealed, we will update this publication.


The new visa system in the UAE is intended to generate foreign investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract talent in healthcare, engineering, art and technology. It is also a way to welcome all those who seek to be part of the UAE’s success story and make the UAE their second home.

News piece authored by Shaikha AlShamsi and Mohammed Alahdel
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