In brief:

  • More details have emerged about the UAE government’s plan to grant long-term residence visas to certain categories of expatriates, namely investors, entrepreneurs, those with “specialised talents” and “outstanding” students.
  • From 3 February 2019, the UAE will begin to accept applications for the long-term residence visas.
  • The long-term residence visas will have a maximum duration of up to 10 years.

From 3 February 2019, the UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will begin to accept applications for long-term residence visas from expatriate investors; entrepreneurs; those with “specialised talents” in the fields of science and academia; and “outstanding” students.

On 3 February 2019, the UAE Cabinet Resolution No. 56 of 2018 on Regulating the Residence Permits for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Specialised Talents (Resolution), which was first published in November 2018, will officially come into force. The Resolution sets out the criteria for the various categories of expatriates entitled to apply for a long-term residence visa as follows:

  1. Fund investor / UAE company investor / UAE property investor – those investing at least AED 10 million into UAE companies and investments are eligible for a renewable 10 year residence visa. Those investing at least AED 5 million into property in the UAE are eligible for a renewable 5 year residence visa.
  2. Entrepreneurs – those owners of previous projects worth AED 500,000 of a “technical or future” nature and who desire to start a business in the UAE are eligible for a renewable 5 year residence visa.
  3. Specialised Talents – those with “excellence, skills, leadership or outstanding performance and talent in the fields of science and knowledge” and who desire to work in the UAE are eligible for a renewable 10 year residence visa. The Resolution lists certain roles, including Physicians; Scientists; Creative Intellectuals and Artists; Inventors; Elites; and Managing Directors.
  4. Students – those students with extremely high attainments in prior exams and “promising scientific potential” who desire to study in the UAE are eligible for a renewable 5 year residence visa.

Two committees will be formed as part of the Resolution and they will evaluate candidates for the long-term visas according to the criteria set out above.

In conclusion, the long-term visa system looks set to provide a degree of certainty and longevity for prospective investors, entrepreneurs, talented individuals, and students to both migrate, and commit, to the UAE on a long-term basis. The new Resolution officially coming into force is a welcome development and we look forward to seeing how it will work in practice.