On the horizon of the UAE’s National Day celebrations taking place on December 2, 2018, there have been some very exciting conversations between foreign nationals seeking a longer-term residence visa in the UAE.

in 2018, the topic of a five- and 10-year visa dominated regional headlines for much of the summer. We were first introduced to the five-year retirement visa which, starting next year, will allow foreign nationals aged 55 and over in the UAE to apply for a five-year renewable residence permit if they meet certain requirements, including investing in properties worth at least AED 2 million, have at least AED 1 million in savings or have an active income of more than AED 20,000 monthly.

Now, the Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates has formally announced new conditions for the issuance of five- and 10-year long-term residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, specialists, foreign nationals with exceptional talents and outstanding students.

Fundamentals of the five-year residence permits

  • A five-year residence permit will be available to the following categories of foreign nationals:
  • Investors in the UAE real estate market provided that the property value is greater than or equal to AED 5 million;
  • Entrepreneurs with a project approval from an accredited business incubator in the UAE;
  • Entrepreneurs who had a previous project in the UAE worth a minimum of AED 500,000;
  • Business partners and up to three executive directors of the qualifying entrepreneurs;
  • Exceptional students with a grade of at least 95% in public and private secondary schools, and those with a grade point average of at least 3.75 after graduating from a university (in the UAE or overseas); and
  • Spouses and children of the above-listed investors and entrepreneurs, as well as family members of the exceptional students.

Critical Elements of the Ten-year residence permits

  • A 10-year residence permit will be available to the following categories of foreign nationals:
  • Investors in public investments through a deposit, an established company, business partnership of AED 10 million (not financed), or a total investment of not less than AED 10 million in all areas mentioned as long as non-real estate investments are not less than 60% of the total investment;
  • Scientists, doctors, specialists, foreign nationals with exceptional talents and researchers in the field of science and knowledge;
  • Foreign nationals with exceptional talents in the field of culture and art;
  • Business partners (under specific conditions)—one executive director and one advisor of the qualifying investors, subject to meeting the visa conditions; and
  • Spouses and children of the above-listed categories.

Now that there is clarity with regards to both five- and 10-year visa categories, what does it mean for foreign nationals?

  • Once an investment is made, foreign nationals will be granted a multiple entry visa valid for six (6) months while the long-term visa is being processed.
  • There are also long-term visa guidelines for entrepreneurs (which can be transferred to investor visas), as well as professionals in scientific and research fields and for students who perform exceptionally well.
  • Foreign nationals entering the UAE market can expect to get a five- or 10-year residence visa, provided the minimum criteria are met along with demonstrating they are investors or entrepreneurs of sound financial merit or business acumen.

There we have it. A new announcement that is based on much more than simple economics. As I’ve previously written, a long-term residential option is a gift that many foreign nationals and prospective expats have desired for decades. The strategic global positioning of the UAE offers immense potential for entrepreneurs and provides a diverse lifestyle that is driving more investors, retirees and families to stay indefinitely.

The time is now for foreign nationals to benefit from long-term visas, guaranteeing not just their continued stay within the UAE but a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the country that they wish to call home. Many may say that this recent measure undertaken by the UAE Cabinet is long overdue, but I believe the timing of it is just right.