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Living in the UAE - Visa options

As a foreign national, to live and work in the UAE, a visa is required. Compared to many nations, the UAE is renowned for being relatively straightforward in securing residence and employment visas. But there is a variety of different visa types, and it’s worth understanding the immigration landscape before embarking on any business set-up.

The UAE’s employment regime is linked to the immigration regime. Foreign nationals require sponsorship through a UAE licensed and registered entity for local work permit and residency visa purposes. Expat ‘sponsorship’ is both employer-specific (only for one employer) and location-specific (within a relevant free zone, for example). Third-party working is permitted, but only on a conditional basis.

The immigration process varies depending on the Emirate and the jurisdiction (free zone or mainland) in which a company is based. Free zones usually operate their own dedicated government service office that liaises with immigration authorities on behalf of the sponsoring entity (company) and generally, these offices have streamlined work authorisation processes.

In the below overview, we take a closer look at the visa types, and have included descriptions on key visas:

- All below visa are subject to a new qualifying route.
- Applicant is qualified to sponsor dependent’s visa for spouse and children under 18 years (subject to certain conditions).

Basis for Visa
Validity and renewal
Key Requirements
Documents required
Legal Presence
Company
- Mainland and (newly) Freezone
- 2 years
- Renewable
- Valid trade License
- Valid Establishment Card
- Valid trade License
- Valid Establishment Card
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Employee visa:must return within 180 day
- Investor Visa:must return to the UAE within 365 days
Real Estate
- 3/5 years
- Renewable
- Property Value of AED 750k for 3 years visa (mortgage not more than 75% of value)
- Property Value of AED 2m for 5 years visa (wholly owned and not mortgaged)
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Title deed reflecting property value
- Latest utility bills/security deposit
- Investor must return to the UAE within 365 days
Remote Working
- 1 year
- Renewable
If employee:
- Proof of employment (contract valid at least one 1 year)
- Minimum salary of USD 5k per month
- Salary slip for last month and bank statement for last 3 months

If company owner:
- Proof of company ownership for at least 1 year
- Minimum income of USD 5k per month
- Company bank statement for last 3 months
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Employee visa:must return within 180 days
Freelance
- 3 years
- Renewable
- Self-employed workers based in the UAE in specific industry and sector (i.e. Marketing, Web Development, Fitness, Art)
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Applicant must return to the UAE within 365 days

UAE GoldenVisa Scheme:
Five  year Long Term Visa

Basis for Visa
Validity and renewal
Key Requirements
Documents required
Legal Presence
Green Visa
- 5 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Self-sponsorship status has newly been expanded to investors, entrepreneurs, highly-skilled individuals, top students and graduates.
- Precise Key conditions still to be confirmed.

Skilled employee applicants must:
- have a valid employment contract;
- be working in jobs in the first, second or third occupational level as defined by the MOHRE;
- have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent;
- earn a salary of at least AED 15,000 monthly.

Freelance and self-employed applicants must:
- obtain a freelance/self-employment permit from the MOHRE;
- have at least a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma;
- have earned an annual income from self-employment for the previous two years of at least AED 360,000 per year;
- or be able to prove their financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE.

Investor and partner applicants must:
- obtain approval of the planned investment and proof of investment. If the investor (partner) has more than one UAE company licence, the total invested capital will be calculated.
- obtain approval from the relevant local authority.
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Applicant must return within 365 days
Applicant is qualified to sponsor dependent’s visa for spouse, children until 25 years (instead of 18 years old previously) and parents.
Basis for Visa
Validity and renewal
Key Requirements
Documents required
Legal Presence
Retiree
- 5 years
- Automatically Renewable
Real Estate Investment:
Own a property in the UAE of a minimum market value of AED 2 million OR

Financial Savings:
Fixed deposit for 3 years or cash savings in the UAE personal bank account of no less than AED 1 million
OR

Monthly Income:
Proof of an income of not less than AED 20,000 per month OR

Combination of property and financial Savings:

To combine both real estate investment (above) and financial savings (above) the financial savings must be AED 1 million fixed for 1 year and Property worth min. AED 500,000.
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- UAE bank statements reflecting financial savings of no less than AED 1m or
- Title deed(s) reflecting UAE property worth AED 2m
- Applicant must return within 365 days
Applicant is qualified to sponsor dependent’s visa for spouse and children under 18 years only.
A Long Term Visa can include not only spouse and children, but allows one executive director or advisor.

10 years UAE Golden Visa:

Basis for Visa
Validity and renewal
Key Requirements
Documents required
Legal Presence
Public Investment
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Amount to be fully deposited by the applicants existing UAE registered company illustrating no less than AED 2m in UAE investments (no loans/finance support and retained for min. 3 years in a UAE bank & financial solvency up to AED 2 million) OR

- Establishing a UAE company with a capital of no less than AED 2 million (no loans/finance support, retained for min. 3 years in a UAE bank & financial solvency up to AED 2 million) OR

- Real estate investment worth AED 2m qualifies applicant  for 10 years visa in full (before, it was 40% real estate and 60% investments). The property can have a loan on it, but the total of AED 2m must be paid off. Off plan properties from local real estate companies are also now newly eligible to in fulfilling the criteria to obtain a visa.
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Company license
- Corporate bank account statement reflecting AED 2m deposit for 3 years
- M&A
- Company establishment card- Audit report
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Entrepreneur
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Ownership or partner in a start-up registered as a small or medium enterprise (SME) in the UAE, and with company annual revenues of not less than AED one million

- obtain  approval for a start-up from an official business incubator or from Ministry of Economy or other competent local authorities

- must have founded an entrepreneurial project that was sold for a total amount of not less than AED seven million.
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Company license
- Corporate bank account statement reflecting AED 2m deposit for 3 years- M&A
- Company establishment card
- Audit report
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Executive Director
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Attested degree (bachelor's degree or higher)

- Salary certificate of not less than AED 50,000 monthly

- Employment contract with the same profession and salary at the salary certificate.

- NOC from existing (employing) company to obtain golden visa

- UAE bank statement (last 6 months)
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance - Comprehensive CV
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Specialist in Science and Research
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Holder of PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world - Holder of Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence - Contribution to major scientific research

- Published articles/scientific books in distinguished publications- Membership in an organization associated, which requires excellent work

- 10-year professional experience
• Specialization in areas of priority to the UAE (additional requirement for doctors)

- Emirates Scientists Council must accredit scientists
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- UAE employment contract
- PHD degree
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Specialist in Culture and Art
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Background in  Culture and Arts
- Recommendation letter from Dubai Culture and Arts Authority based on comprehensive background related to this specialization
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Comprehensive CV
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Athletes
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Background in sports
- Recommendation letter from General Authority of Sports in Dubai or Dubai Sports Council based on comprehensive background related to this specialization
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Comprehensive CV
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Specialist in Engineering and Science
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Applicants require an attested degree (bachelor’s degree or higher), or a letter of equivalency for the academic degree from the Ministry of Education (for certificates from outside the country).

- A copy of the sponsored residency.

- A work contract in one of the following disciplines: Epidemiology and Viruses – Artificial Intelligence – Big Data – Computer Engineering – Electronics Engineering – Software Engineering – Electrical Engineering – Genetic Engineering – Biotechnology Engineering.
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Comprehensive CV
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Inventors
-  10 years
-  Automatically Renewable
- ForDubai residents only
- Applicant is a specialized talent and researcher in various fields of science and knowledge

- Recommendation letter from Ministry of Economy
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Outstanding Students
- 5 or 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- High School:
Recommendation letter from  Ministry of Education

- University Graduate:Attested Degree (bachelor’s degree or higher) along with the academic transcript
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Doctors
- 10 years
- Automatically Renewable
- Attested certificates and specialisations

- Copy of labour card

- Copy of labour contract with MOHRE- Sponsored residency
- Contracts
- Passport Copy
- Medical Fitness result
- Emirates ID registration
- UAE health insurance
- Additional documents might be required
-  Applicant can enter every 9 years (before once every 365 days)
Applicant is qualified to sponsor dependent’s visa for spouse and children up to  25 years old  (instead of 18 years old previously).
Can include unlimited sponsorship visas for children, domestic help, executives).

Swiss Group is happy to discuss your visa questions in detail, with bespoke advice built on nearly 50 years’ experience in the region. Contact us today.

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