What is the UAE Golden Visa?
Updated on 29th July 2019
The UAE is a country that is unique in the world because it allows individuals from almost any country in the world to obtain a visa in a straight forward model.
According to Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, a new model is being considered. One that would be specifically designed to attract wealthy individuals: a so-called ‘Golden Visa’.
Update, July 29th: Fast forward to 2019, and now we have more concrete information on the implementation of this ‘Golden Card’ Residency Visa in the UAE, in the form of 5-years and 10-years visa and specific additional provisions for individuals that are eligible for this programme.
What Is The UAE Golden Visa?
A Golden Visa is issued by countries to provide wealthy individuals a fast track to a fully valid residency permit. In return these individuals need to make a substantial investment in the country, thus supporting the economy.
It is often a very straightforward and flexible programme, with simple and clear legal requirements, and extremely reduced minimum stay requirements.
This type of residency programme is not new. It is often used by governments in distress to increase their tax base with some ‘strong shoulders’, or by governments that are business oriented.
These programmes are attractive for individuals who wish to live in a country with a better quality of life or to obtain certain benefits. Residency in Europe can increase their travel options within the Schengen area. The UAE would be attractive for its stable and tax free business environment in a turbulent region.
Currently the UAE does offer residence visas for business owners (investor visas), employees. Also it offer a visa for property owners who invest at least 1 million Dirhams; however this is not a residence visa but a 6-month multiple-entry visit visa.
Update, July 29th: Currently the UAE does offer residence visas for business owners, employees. Also, it offers visas for investors who invest at least half a million to 1 million Dirhams and above. For a property valued at 1 million Dirhams, the visa duration is 2 years; for a 5 million Dirhams investment, it allows for a 5 year residence visa. Should an investor opt for a 10 million Dirhams investment, they would be eligible for a 10-year residence visa.
The Golden Visa terminology is used broadly, as the newly-introduced residency visas are, in many ways, similar to a Golden Visa functionality. There are two main classes, differentiated by the visa duration of 5-years or 10-years, renewable but subject to adherence of policies. There is also a specific provision for qualifying individuals to be exempted from the requirements of having to be within the country once every 183 days to maintain the residency visa. This means only those on the long-term residency visas that are allowed to be outside the country for more than 183 days are the ones with the true Golden Visa. As of now, the majority of recipients are those with long-established ties in the country and have been converted from their existing visas into this Golden Visa.
What Are The Requirements Of The UAE Golden Visa?
Lately there have been a number of countries that have initiated a type of Golden Vis programme. Naturally each country sets their own requirements but typically it involves making a minimum investment.
The UK for example requires a 1 Million GBP investment in a government approved investment. Portugal requires one of the following: acquisition of any property above € 500,000, the transfer of capital above € 1,000,000 into a business or at a bank deposit, or the creation of a minimum of 10 permanent jobs. Latvia has a residency programme that requires a minimum investment of €30000; after 5 years citizenship can be applied for. Panama has a range of investor programmes; all of which can lead to citizenship after 5 years of residence. Cyprus and Malta offer popular citizenship programmes for investors too.
In short: governments want to make it easy for wealthy individuals to instantly contribute to the economy.
Update, July 29th:
The second phase of the UAE long-term residence visas with a 10-year duration allows for applicants with public investments of no less than 10 million Dirhams and specialized talents and experts in the fields of science and knowledge and the creative arts. A 5-year residence visa can be granted with an investment of at least 5 million Dirhams in a property, fully paid upfront, in the UAE; or for entrepreneurs with existing projects with a minimum capital of half a million Dirhams; or outstanding students.
As mentioned above, the initial phase of the Golden Visa recipients are those with long-standing ties to the UAE and have merely converted their existing visas to this.
For more on this, you can read up here
As of now, the Golden Visa is still only being considered by the UAE government. Nothing is yet known about the costs, the duration of the programme and the requirements.
But when the programme is implemented, this can be yet another outstanding tool in the arsenal of the UAE to attract more business and capital to its shores.
Freemont will follow this development closely and report on any future developments. If the programme gets approved, we will be ready.
Update, July 29th: As of July 2019, the UAE government has implemented and issued long-term visas to the first and second phase of eligible applicants. Apart from fulfilling the above criteria, applicants will also have to undergo the necessary application procedures including medical examination and biometrics registration. Freemont Group will be able to assist you throughout the process, and provide you with the advice and guidance to ensure a smooth visa application process.
Should you have any additional queries regarding the UAE’s newly launched Golden Visa programme, feel free to make your enquiry with one of our team members today.