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How to Get Permanent Residency In The UAE

Jan 18, 2024 | Legal, Living in Dubai

Understanding how to get permanent residency in the UAE is crucial for those aspiring to establish a long-term presence in this dynamic country. The UAE’s attractive tax-free environment and high standard of living have made it a prime destination for people from all walks of life. To successfully navigate the process, applicants must comprehend the eligibility criteria and prepare to meet various requirements, from securing an entry permit to providing proof of investment or employment.

Categories eligible for permanent residency include investors, entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, and even students, each with tailored pathways and criteria to satisfy. The Golden Visa system also offers a prestigious long-term stay option for those who qualify. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on securing permanent residency in the UAE, encompassing eligibility, documentation, investment opportunities, and the post-application process.

UAE Permanent Residency Eligibility

UAE Residency Laws

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a wealth of opportunities for those looking to live and work within its borders, thanks to its tax-free status and high standard of living. If you’re aiming for permanent residency, you’ll need to navigate the UAE’s residency laws, which are set up to ensure applicants meet certain criteria and follow a structured application process. The first step to obtaining permanent residence is securing an entry permit sponsored by a UAE citizen or resident.

Once you have the visa, it’s attached to your passport. It comes with an Emirates ID, which has the same visa validity period. To ensure a smooth application process, it’s important to have all your ducks in a row, with necessary documentation like passport photos, proof of health insurance, and relevant personal documents.

Categories Eligible for Permanent Residency

Only some people can get permanent residency in the UAE; specific categories determine it. These include students completing their studies in the UAE, relatives of UAE citizens, property owners, investors, full-time employees, and retirees. Each category has its own requirements, like a minimum monthly income of $817 with employer-provided accommodation or $1090 without, and sometimes, a higher income threshold is needed for those who want to sponsor their parents.

The UAE also offers different paths to residency for foreign nationals, such as employment, investment, company registration, family sponsorship, and university student sponsorship, each with its own criteria and visa validity periods.

Overview of the Golden Visa System

The Golden Visa system in the UAE is a top-tier route to long-term residency visas, offering benefits to a wide range of eligible individuals, including investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, students, and other specialised talents. This system grants a renewable residence visa valid for 5 or 10 years and the major perk of not needing a local sponsor. As a Golden Visa holder, you can live, work, and study in the UAE, sponsor your family members, and own 100% of your business on the UAE mainland.

The investment criteria for this visa are significant, requiring things like investing $544,551.00 (AED two million) in an investment fund or owning property worth the same amount. The Golden Visa also allows you to stay outside the UAE for long periods without affecting the resident visa’s validity, a benefit not usually available to regular residence visa holders. The application and renewal process for the Golden Visa is made easier through the ‘One touch’ service, though the costs vary depending on the visa type, and it doesn’t lead to citizenship.

Waterscape And Buildings In UAE

PR Application Essentials

Careful preparation is key when applying for PR in the UAE. Understanding the prerequisites and having all the necessary paperwork in order is essential. Legal assistance can also facilitate the process.

Document Checklist for PR Application

Compiling the required paperwork is a critical step. This includes two passport-sized photographs, your original passport, and a fully completed application form. An entry visa and proof of good health and character are also necessary.

For family visa applicants, evidence of familial relationships is required, such as birth certificates for children and a marriage certificate for spouses. These documents must be attested by the UAE Embassy in your home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE. For work visa applicants, a copy of their work contract, the company’s trade licence, and the company’s documents are needed.

Additional documents may be required for travel, and health insurance evidence is necessary. The sponsor’s entry permit is a crucial step, obtainable online or in person through the GDRFA or mobile apps. The sponsor is responsible for applying for the PR at the visa in the UAE initial stage and handling the fee, which varies based on the visa’s validity.

After approval, you’ll receive a Residence visa and an Emirates ID. The cost for a residence visa valid for up to one year starts at $27, with processing fees differing by application platform. Standard processing time is from 3 to 4 working days, with expedited options available. Application status can be monitored online by entering your request number on the tracking page.

Language Proficiency and Other Requirements

While there is no stringent language proficiency requirement, a grasp of Arabic or English can benefit daily interactions and administrative tasks. Applicants must demonstrate financial stability for themselves and their dependents and adhere to the UAE’s legal and regulatory framework.

Legal Assistance: Hiring an Immigration Lawyer

Professional guidance can be invaluable in navigating immigration procedures. Immigration lawyers provide assistance with document attestation, application submission, and communication with authorities.

They offer advice on the various visa options, including the Golden Visa, which provides a renewable visa without the need for a sponsor. The application for the Golden Visa can be completed online or in person, with specific documents required based on your entry purpose. Processing times can be as quick as 48 hours, although recommendations from authorities may extend this period.

Investment Path to UAE PR

Evaluating Investment Options

The UAE golden visa is designed to attract investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals with exceptional talents. You’ll need to invest a minimum of  $544,550 (AED 2 million) to qualify. The process for obtaining a residency visa through investment is efficient, taking just over eight weeks to process your application. The UAE is renowned for its ease of doing business.

As an investor, you’ll benefit from a favourable tax regime, with no personal income, capital, net worth, or withholding taxes, except in specific sectors like domestic banking and oil. Moreover, the UAE has established several double-tax treaties to prevent you from being taxed twice on the same income.

Understanding Property Investment Benefits

Real estate investors can obtain a 10-year renewable residence visa by purchasing property worth a minimum of $544,550 (AED 2 million). Your investment can be in the form of a single property, a property with a loan from specific local banks, or one or more off-plan properties from approved local real estate companies.

The benefits of property investment in the UAE are significant, offering good value and a streamlined residence permit system. The Golden Visa you obtain through this investment is valid for ten years. It can be renewed, providing long-term stability. Importantly, living outside the UAE doesn’t affect the validity of the visa, and you must hold the investment for at least three years.

Setting Up a Business in the UAE

For entrepreneurs, setting up a business in the UAE can be your gateway to permanent residency. The country’s strategic location, robust infrastructure, and business-friendly environment make it an attractive destination for business owners. The Golden Visa also caters to individuals with specialised talents, including researchers, scientists, inventors, and creative individuals in culture and art.

These talents must be recognised through accreditation or significant contributions to their field, such as patents or published research. The UAE government has set specific conditions for granting visas to these categories, ensuring that only those with valid employment contracts in priority fields and recognised achievements are eligible. This includes scientists accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council, creative individuals accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, and inventors with patents that contribute to the UAE’s economy.

For those in academia, there’s also a five-year Golden Visa option for outstanding students with excellent academic records. This visa allows students to bring their family members to the UAE, providing a supportive environment for their educational pursuits.

The application process for UAE residence is streamlined but requires attention to detail, including frequent renewals and a fair amount of paperwork. Most other residence visas and permits can be renewed if you meet in-country requirements and maintain a clean record. It’s crucial to renew the permit within 30 days of its expiration to avoid daily fees for overstaying.

If you’re away from the country when the permit expires, you can renew up to six months in advance. Renewal requires a sponsor with a valid residency permit, a medical fitness test for those above 18, an insurance card, and a renewed identity card. Additional documents such as employment contracts, salary certificates, marriage certificates, tenancy contracts, and utility bills may be required for those sponsoring family members.

Once all requirements for a valid residence visa are met, the renewal process takes up to three weeks, and the permit is renewed for the specified time period of the visa type.

Aerial View Of The UAE

Employment-Based PR Process

Skilled Worker and Professional Qualifications

The Green visa is another avenue for skilled workers aiming for residency. This visa allows for self-sponsorship for five years and is renewable. Eligibility for the Green Visa under the Skilled Employee category requires a valid employment contract, classification within the first to third occupational levels by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and a minimum monthly salary of $4,050. This option also enables sponsorship of immediate family members.

Employer Sponsorship and Job Offer Considerations

Securing employment in the UAE typically involves employer sponsorship. Once you have a job offer, you will receive an entry permit, which allows you to enter the UAE and arrange your residency within two months. Employers must obtain approval and present their business license to hire from abroad. The standard work visa, valid for two years, is issued to employees across various sectors. The employer is responsible for the visa application and associated costs, while the employee must provide the necessary documentation.

Changing to PR from a Work Visa

Transitioning from a work visa to a Green Visa offers skilled employees the ability to sponsor themselves. Freelancers and self-employed individuals can also apply for a Green Visa with a freelance permit, appropriate qualifications, and proof of sufficient annual income.

The Green Visa provides a six-month grace period after the expiration or cancellation of the tourist visa, allowing ample time to renew or alter residency status. Property investment or business establishment are viable alternatives for those not qualifying for a Green Visa. To qualify through property investment, the property must be valued at over $272,275 (1 million AED) and fully paid for. Establishing a company can lead to a three-year renewable residence visa.

The residence visa, included with the work visa by the Ministry of Labor, affords access to healthcare, social security, and the ability to sponsor family members. The expedited processing option can reduce the standard processing time, and the fee for a residence visa valid for up to one year is approximately $27, with additional costs varying by application method.

Aerial View Of UAE At Night

Post-Application Procedures

Timeline and Processing Stages

After securing employment, the next phase is obtaining security clearance from the authorities. This is a prerequisite for your employer to sponsor your visa. The duration for processing can range from a swift 7 to 15 days for a Dubai Work Visa to a longer period of up to 30 days for other types of freelance visas.

Following security clearance, the employer will proceed with the visa application. This typically takes around two weeks. The work permit must be utilised within 30 days, and the e-visa remains valid for 60 days from issuance.

Upon arrival, your Entry Permit and passport will be submitted to the Office of Immigration and Relocation Services until your first permanent residence or visa is finalised.

Medical Exams and Biometrics Collection

To ensure public health safety, newcomers undergo medical screenings for specific diseases. In Abu Dhabi, these tests and biometric data collection are conducted at designated hospitals shortly after arrival, with assistance from the Immigration Services team.

Certain nationalities may require pre- and post-arrival medical screenings. Detected TB scars or active cases may result in a conditional fitness certificate, necessitating treatment within the UAE.

Biometric data, including an eye scan and fingerprints, are collected for the residency database and your Emirates ID card issuance, typically scheduled within 72 hours post-medical exam.

Tips for Successful PR Interview

Preparation is crucial for the PR interview. Applicants through investment routes should present financial evidence, such as bank statements or property titles.

For the Golden Visa, the required documentation encompasses a passport copy, investment proof, academic qualifications, and health coverage. This visa category offers extended residency, family sponsorship, and access to public services.

For those pursuing academic goals, a study visa is available for the duration of their educational program. Additionally, individuals with relatives in the UAE may explore family sponsorship, subject to financial and housing stipulations.

A retirement visa is also available for eligible applicants over the age of 55.

Embracing the UAE Lifestyle with PR

Your journey to securing permanent residency in the UAE weaves through myriad well-defined pathways, each promising a future gleaming with opportunity. Whether you’re an investor, a skilled professional, or seeking to unite with family, the UAE extends a welcoming hand, providing clear-cut procedures and robust support systems.

Navigating this venture demands meticulous preparation and a fine-tuned understanding of the specific visa requirements suited to your circumstances. With diligence and the right qualifications, the dream of calling the UAE your home can become tangible. As you embrace the vibrant culture, dynamic economy, and progressive community, your new life awaits in the heart of the Middle East under the security and stability of permanent residency in the United Arab Emirates.

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