Emiratis, expatriates, investors and visitors will benefit from streamlined processes and simplified procedures with the launch of new UAE passport and visa services.
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) announced the launch of the third generation of the UAE passport and the trial run of an “advanced visa system”.
The new visa scheme, which will come into force on October 3, introduces new residency tracks and entry permits, and simplifies existing options. Here, we explore the sweeping changes that have been made to the country’s entry and residence system for expatriates:
Changes to Golden Visa scheme
Several amendments have been introduced to the Golden Visa scheme, allowing more categories of people to get the coveted 10-year visa.
- More skilled professionals can get the long-term residency, with the minimum monthly salary requirement dropping from Dh50,000 to Dh30,000. Disciplines include medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences. Applicants should have a valid employment contract in the UAE, and be classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
- Investors can get the long-term visa when purchasing a property worth at least Dh2 million, even with a loan from “specific local banks”. Off-plan properties are allowed from “approved local real estate companies”.
- Holders of the Golden Visa can sponsor children without any age limits. There is also no cap on the number of support staff they can sponsor.
- Staying outside the UAE for over six months won’t affect their visa.
This new track provides a five-year residency for skilled employees, without a sponsor or employer. Skilled employees with a valid employment contract and a monthly salary of at least Dh15,000; freelancers; and investors can apply for the visa.
- All visit visas are available for single or multiple entry and can be renewed for similar periods. They allow a stay of 60 days — up from the previous 30.
- Job exploration visa does not require a sponsor or a host. It is granted to those classified in the first, second or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and fresh graduates of the best 500 universities in the world.
- A visitor can apply for an entry permit if he/she is a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident. It does not require a sponsor or a host.
- Five-year multi-entry tourist visa does not require a sponsor. It allows the visitor to stay in the country up to 90 continuous days, which may be extended for a similar period, provided that the entire period of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year. This visa requires proof of having a bank balance of US$4,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies during the six months prior to submitting the application.
Family sponsorship rules
For all residence types, the age of sons who may be sponsored has been raised to 25 years (previously 18 years), with no age limit for unmarried daughters. Children of determination are granted a residence permit, regardless of their age. Green Residency can even sponsor their first-degree relatives.
Grace period after visa cancellation or expiry
Usually, once a residency visa expires, expats get a grace period of 30 days to leave the country or get another visa. But under the new system, flexible grace periods of up to six months will be offered. It is not immediately clear if this is applicable to all visa types.