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What you need to know about UAE’s new long-term visa

What you need to know about UAE’s new long-term visa

Khaleej Times, 27 November, 2018

We are always excited by new developments and happenings in Dubai’s property market and the news that was quietly released over the weekend is bound to generate a lot of conversation in the coming days. The UAE Cabinet has approved the new long-term visa that was announced earlier this year and we are finally getting some clarity on what exactly this entails.

For investors, both within the UAE and abroad, the long-term visa takes on 2 different forms. The most basic option is a 5-year residence visa, which is granted upon a minimum investment of Dh5 million. This can be a property of that value or any other type of investment. The second option, and the one that has dominated headlines for much of the summer, is the 10-year residence visa. This visa is granted on a minimum investment of Dh10 million, with the caveat that at least 60 per cent of it must be a non-real estate investment. This could be in the form of a new business partnership, addition of funds to an established company or any other public investment. For both of these visa categories, there are a few points that need to be kept in mind.

In order to qualify for the visa, the entire investment amount needs to come from the investor, without any loans or financing. The investment must be retained for a period of 3 years under standard liability and with a financial solvency that doesn’t exceed Dh10 million. The visa can be extended to include your spouse and children and should you have any partners in your business, they can avail of it as well provided they have each invested Dh10 million into the business.

Once you make an investment, you will be granted a multiple entry visa valid for 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.

That clears up much of the uncertainty that hung around the news. But what does it mean for investors? To put it simply: higher investment equals more benefits. Any investor into the UAE market can expect to get a 5-year residence visa provided the minimum criteria are met. If you are aiming for the 10-year visa, you will not only have to make double the minimum investment but also demonstrate you are an investor of sound financial merit.

I also appreciate the Cabinet’s push for economic diversity by delineating that less than half of the larger investment should be property-based. It would be very easy after all for a heavy-duty investor to buy up a villa on the Palm Jumeirah or Al Barari or in any of the upcoming high-end projects and just put their feet up as their long-term visas get processed. By limiting the percentage of real estate investment, there is more motivation for investors to delve into the UAE economy and to develop a better understanding of its various sectors to find the best investment options. This also helps investors to have a broader portfolio and it goes without saying that this widespread capital injection will be beneficial to the UAE and its continued growth as well.

There is much more to the new rules than simple economics. A long-term residential option is something that many current expats aspire to and what prospective expats would desire. The UAE sits in a strategic global location, offers potential for business and serves up a diverse lifestyle that is driving more families to lay down their roots here. Many would say that a measure such as this is long overdue, though I think the timing of it is just right.

It was perhaps sometime last year that the UAE, and particularly Dubai, really started rolling out the next phase of its growth. We have seen long-gestating communities such as Dubai Hills and District One starting to deliver and have witnessed a number of successful launches. Madinat Jumeirah Living is a project that comes to mind. A few years ago, a project offering freehold properties in the very heart of Jumeirah seemed like a very distant prospect. Now we see it as a blossoming reality.

This is the perfect time for investors to benefit from long-term visas, guaranteeing not just their continued stay within the UAE but also an investment into some fantastic communities and a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the country that they wish to call home.