Everyday hundreds if not thousands of new residency visas are issued in the UAE, the country's growing population is a sign that the UAE is more popular than ever for expatriates to live, work and study.
Every individual who wishes to stay in the UAE to live, work or study must have a residency visa, without a residency visa it is impossible to do things such as opening a bank account, rent or buy a property and work legally in a job. The residency visa permits the right to stay in the UAE legally long-term unlike a tourist visa which is for a limited period.
Previously, residency visas were linked to employment or a sponsor, however since early 2020, the UAE government has issued a number of new decrees that enabled new types or residency visas to be issued. These new residency options offer flexibility and stability for those wishing to make UAE their home. There are now both short-term and long-term residency options available depending on the needs of the applicant.
Let’s take a look at all of the current residency visa options available currently in the UAE and what specific requirements each visa needs.
Employment Residency Visa
This is the most common residency visa issued in the UAE, the visa is issued by the employer or sponsor and it is legally required that the employer provides the employee a residency visa, so that they can legally reside in the country.
The duration of the employment residency visa is usually 1-3 years in duration and can be canceled once the employment contract is finished.
This is a fairly new type of visa, which aims to attract talent from around the world. The one-year visa allows foreigners to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work in line with terms and conditions issued with the visa.
Under the virtual working programme, you may relocate to Dubai (from outside the UAE) and continue working for the organisation you are already working for, remotely. The visa is valid for one year, renewable upon re-application.
If you are an employee, you need to:
provide proof of employment with a contract valid for one year from your current employer
earn a salary of minimum USD 5,000 per month
provide the salary slip for the last month and bank statements for the preceding three months.
If you are a company owner, you need to:
provide proof of ownership of company for one year or more
have an average monthly income of USD 5,000 per month
provide bank statements of the company’s account for the preceding three months.
The Golden Visa/Investor Visa
The popular Golden Visa provides a long-term 5 or 10 year visa for foreigners who wish to stay in the UAE. The long-term visa can include the spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor. For can find out more information on how to apply for the Golden Visa here.
A student visa is issued to expatriate students who are over 18 years and residing in the UAE. Currently, a student's visa is given for a duration of one year, at a time, renewable for a similar period upon an official proof of continuation of a study issued from the relevant higher educational institute in the UAE where the student is admitted. Student's visa in the UAE can be secured either by residents sponsoring their children or by one of the accredited universities/colleges in the UAE.
In September 2018, the UAE Cabinet approved a law to provide retired residents over the age of 55 a long-term visa for a period of 5 years.
For a retiree to be eligible for a 5-year renewable retirement visa, he must fulfill one of the following criteria:
invest in a property worth AED 2 million
have financial savings of no less than AED 1 million
have an active income of no less than AED 20,000 per month.
You can find out more about the retirement visa here.
Multiple free zones across the UAE – such as twfour54, Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone, Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, Ajman Free Zone – offer a wide range of freelance visas to residents and foreigners to work in the UAE. Irrespective of whichever free zone people apply for the visa, they can work across the UAE in their relevant field. The freelance visa can range from 1 to 3 years in duration depending on the freezone it is attached to.
Both, employers and employees with a valid UAE residence visa can sponsor residence visas for their families. Unlike before, employees can sponsor their families regardless of their job titles if they earn a minimum salary of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 plus accommodation. Clearing medical fitness examination applies to all newcomers who have completed the age of 18.
Please note as from 11th April 2022, all residency visa stamps in passports will be replaced by the Emirates ID cards.
If you would like us to advise and apply for the right visa for you and or your family, please contact our expert visa team to help guide you through the process.