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UAE unveils long-term visas for entrepreneurs, investors and specialists

Out-Law News | 28 Nov 2018 | 3:42 pm | 2 min. read

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has approved a new long-term visa system aimed at attracting investors, entrepreneurs, and students, researchers and “specialised talents” in science and knowledge.

The aim of the programme is to create an attractive investment environment to grow business from these areas and maintain the UAE as an “optimal business environment”. It builds on an earlier announcement which grants investors as well as scientists, medics and artists 10-year residency visas.

Under the new programme, different categories of individuals must meet differing criteria to qualify for a long-term visa.

Investors in a property valued at AED 5 million (£1.06 million) will be granted residency for five years. Investors in public investments through a deposit, an established company, business partnership of AED10m or more, or a total investment of not less than AED10m with a maximum of 40% of the investment in real estate, will be given a 10-year renewable residency visa.

The government said the investor must wholly own the amount invested, and this has to be proven with documentation.

The long-term visas can be extended to business partners also contributing AED10m, as well as spouses, children, one executive director and one adviser.

As well as investors, two categories of entrepreneurs are now eligible for five-year visas – those who had a previous project with at least AED500,000 invested, or those with the approval of an accredited business incubator in the UAE. Entrepreneurs will be eligible for an upgrade to an investors’ visa if they meet those requirements.

The entrepreneur visas can also be extended to partners, three executive directors, spouses and children.

Researchers and specialists in areas such as science, medicine, and the arts are eligible for 10-year visas if they meet two conditions, such as holding a doctorate from a top university, being published in research journals, or holding an award in their field.

Company executives also fall into this group, provided they can show high academic achievement and professional experience. The government said the inclusion of executives was aimed at maintaining current competencies within the UAE as well as attracting new skills to the country.

“Outstanding students” with extremely high school and university grades will be eligible to apply for five-year visas under the scheme.

Dubai-based employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "The introduction of these new visa options demonstrates the growing emphasis which UAE places on attracting and retaining best-in-class talent from around the world. It also reflects the commitment of the UAE to be regarded as a place where workers from elsewhere can commit to for the long term, and invest significant periods of their life and career."

"It is an exciting time to be growing business in the UAE and attracting talent from around the world with new legislation and policy being implemented on a regular basis," he said. "The development of the statutory framework around key issues such as residency and employment laws is a positive development for business growth and commercial activity in the region."