By Ghulam Haider
The UAE continues its stride in becoming the ideal destination for work, investment, entrepreneurship, education and life by introducing a restructuring of its entry and residence system. The Emirates has introduced and implemented implemented new visa regime that introduce new types of entry visas and residence permits, expands the Golden Visa categories and more.
New visa rules in UAE 2022
Aimed at strengthening UAE’s position as an ideal destination to live, work, and invest in, the UAE cabinet has approved the executive regulations of the Federal Decree-Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners called the Advanced Visa System
The UAE has now introduced around ten types of new entry visas and residence permits and has expanded the Golden Visa categories. Having already come into effect on 3 October 2022, the new system of entry and residence has been introduced to attract and retain global talents and skilled workers from all over the world, boost the competitiveness and flexibility of the job market and foster a high sense of stability among UAE residents and families.
Furthermore, the new visa and entry rules are specifically implemented as an incentive to empower Emirati SMEs and further develop the business sector in the UAE.
UAE visit visa extension new rules 2022
The Immigration department of the UAE has stopped the extension of UAE visit visas without exiting the country. Visit visa holders wanting an extension should exit the UAE and then re-apply.
The UAE visit visa extension rules had been previously relaxed due to COVID-19. But now that normalcy has returned, UAE’s immigration department has decided to bring procedures back to the pre-pandemic norms.
As of now, no official confirmation about the new visa extension rule has been provided by the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP), but visa extension applications made from within the country have reportedly started being rejected.
Golden visa rules 2022
The UAE has now expanded the Golden Visa categories and added substantial amendments to the Golden Residence Scheme to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries.
The long-term 10-year Golden residence will be granted to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists, outstanding students and graduates, and skilled workers.
The new rules will allow the Golden Residence holders to sponsor their family members, including spouses and children, regardless of their age. Furthermore, they can also sponsor support services (domestic) labourers without having a limit on their number.
According to the details accessed on the ICP system by the typing centre agents, the grace period after the residence visa expiry or cancellation in the UAE for expats has been extended from 30 days to 6 months for Golden visa holders and their family members. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period. However, if the Golden visa holder fails to renew or cancel the visa of his dependents, the dependents could be liable to pay an overstay fine.
The UAE has recently unveiled a new tool in the form of an online quiz, which tells aspiring applicants if they are indeed eligible for the Golden visa in just 2 minutes.
The Golden Visa will now be granted to scientists and researchers who meet the following conditions:
- have a PhD or Master’s degree in engineering, technology, life sciences and natural sciences from the world’s best universities.
- must have a recommendation from the Emirates Scientists Council to avail of this Visa.
Skilled professionals can qualify for the Golden Visa scheme, provided:
- they hold a valid contract of employment in the UAE
- the job must fall under the occupational level one or two as defined by the Ministry of Human Resources Emiratisation.
- the minimum monthly salary is not less than AED 30,000 (USD 8,167).
- the skilled worker must have a bachelor’s degree as well
Please note that skilled professionals (classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification) are eligible for an extended 6 months grace period.
Under the category of exceptionally talented individuals, talented individuals in the field of art, culture, digital technology, sports, innovation, medicine, law and others are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme.
Moreover, the 10-year Visa will be awarded solely based on the talent of the individual. It will not depend on educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional status. However, the recommendation or approval of a federal or local government entity will be required.
Real estate investors
The Golden Visa for Real Estate Investors can be obtained by Real estate investors when purchasing a property worth no less than AED 2 million (USD 5,44,528).
However, under the new amendments, investors are also entitled to obtain the Golden Residence when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks. Furthermore, the residence can also be obtained when investors buy one or more off-plan properties of no less than AED 2 million (USD 5,44,528) from approved local real estate companies.
Please note that as announced by the ICP, the grace period after the residence visa expiry or cancellation in the UAE for expats has been extended from 90 days for property owners. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period.
Startup investors may now obtain a Golden Visa, provided their company is registered within the UAE, and it should fall under the small and medium enterprises (SME) category with annual revenues of AED 1 million (USD 2,72,249) or above
Furthermore, the Golden Residence for Entrepreneurs can also be obtained, if:
- the person is a founder or one of the founders of a previous entrepreneurial project that was sold with a total value of not less than AED 7 million (USD 19,05,850.80).
- the approval of the Ministry of Economy or the competent local authorities is required for projects or ideas.
Students with exceptional academic excellence, having obtained high scores either in UAE secondary schools or universities are also eligible to apply for the 10-year Visa or the Golden Visa scheme.
Furthermore, talented students who have studied at the world’s 100 best universities are also eligible to apply for the Golden Visa scheme. Criteria include academic performance/cumulative average, year of graduation and university classification.
Please note that students who have completed their studies are eligible for the extended 6 months grace period.
Humanitarian pioneers such as the following can get the Golden visa:
- distinguished members of international and regional organizations
- outstanding members of associations of public benefit
- recipients of recognition awards in humanitarian fields
- distinguished volunteers and sponsors of humanitarian efforts
Doctors and nurses
The UAE has been granting doctors and nurses, the first line of defence, a long-term residency in “recognition of their efforts and sacrifices”.
All doctors licensed by the UAE health regulatory bodies can apply for the Golden Visa between July 2021 and September 2022 through the ICA’s golden residency services for doctors.
As of late, nurses and medical staff, the unsung heroes of the UAE’s COVID-19 fight, are now also eligible for receiving the prestigious Golden Visa.
Seven centres affiliated with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship have been established across the Emirates for doctors and nurses who wish to apply for visas in person.
Artists, singers, dancers, musicians, performers, curators, or any other creative professionals aged 25 years and above can apply for a long-term visa under the Cultural Golden Visa category, irrespective of their educational qualification, employment status, monthly salary or professional level.
They will be required to obtain a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCY) and be in the country while making an application.
Executive directors who have at least a bachelor’s degree accredited by the Ministry of Education, a letter of experience of 5 years in the same position, a salary certificate of AED 50,000 at least, and a valid work contract can apply under this category.
Green residence 2022
Some major improvements for the UAE Green Visa include new 5-year residence tracks, introduced mainly to attract talents, skilled professionals, freelancers, investors and entrepreneurs. In addition to facilitating and simplifying the requirements of all residence types, more benefits are being offered including, longer flexible grace periods that reach up to 6 months to stay in the country after the residence permit is cancelled or expired to facilitate family members’ residence.
The new amendments of the Green residence for skilled employees provide a 5 years residency period for skilled employees without a sponsor or employer.
The only requirements here include:
- applicants should have a valid employment contract
- should be classified in the first, second or third occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
- the minimum educational level must be a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- applicant’s salary should not be less than AED 15,000 (USD 4,083).
Please note that skilled professionals (third level in the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation classification), are eligible for a 90 days extended grace period after the expiry of the Green residence.
Freelancing and self-employment
With the freelancing industry and the concept of flexible work models having considerable growth worldwide, the new Green residence for freelancing and self-employment provides a 5 years residency for freelancers and self-employed individuals without requiring a sponsor or employer in the UAE.
The only requirements include:
- obtaining a freelance/ self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- a minimum educational qualification with a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma.
- an annual income from self-employment for the previous two years of AED 360,000 (USD 9,800), or
- the applicant should be able to prove their financial solvency throughout their stay in the country.
Investor or partner
The Green residence for investors or partners has been introduced to encourage investment. It provides 5 years of residency for investors establishing or participating in commercial activities. Furthermore, the validity under this category has been increased from the previous 2 years to 5 years now.
The requirements include:
- approval of the investment and proof of investment.
- in case the investor (partner) has more than one license, the total invested capital will be calculated.
- approval of the competent local authorities is mandatory.
New benefits for family members
As of now, Golden Visa holders may apply to sponsor their parents for a 10-year residency. Previously, Golden Visa holders may only sponsor a parent for a one-year stay, as was the case with normal residency holders.
Additionally, Golden Visa holders are exempt from paying the deposit required to sponsor parents. They only need to present a certification from their respective consulates attesting to the fact that they are the parents’ sole caregivers.
The new system provides more benefits to family members. Resident can now easily bring their family members, including their spouses and children, to the UAE and sponsor residency for their first-degree relatives for five years.
According to the details accessed on the ICP system by the typing centre agents, the grace period to exit the UAE after a residency visa cancellation has been extended to 6 months for Green visa holders and their family members. Therefore, expats now have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period. However, if the green visa holder fails to renew or cancel the visa of his dependents, the dependents could be liable to pay an overstay fine.
The Green Residence holder is allowed to bring his first-degree relatives, and in all cases, the residency of family members shall be the same duration as the original residence holder.
Five-year residency for Children of Emirati mothers
The UAE has started issuing five-year residency visas for children of Emirati women with foreign nationals, whose validity was previously three years.
This directive will improve the lives of many and is widely regarded as a progressive step towards improving the rights of the children of Emirati mothers born to foreign fathers, granting them the same benefits as other citizens in healthcare and education.
Entry visa rules 2022
For the first time, the UAE has introduced around ten types of entry visas that do not require a host or sponsor for visitors to the UAE for different visit purposes.
Some major improvements for the entry visas include facilitating the entry requirements for all visa types and offering flexible visa durations that not only meet the needs of the visitors but also their purpose of the visit. Additionally, all entry visas will now be available for single or multiple entries and will be valid for 60 days from their date of issuance. They can also be renewed for similar periods.
Job exploration entry visa
The Job Exploration Visa is mainly introduced as a means to attract young talents and skilled professionals to explore job opportunities available in the country. The visa does not require a sponsor or a host and will be granted if the applicant meets the following requirements:
- is classified in the first or second, or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- is a fresh graduate of the best 500 universities in the world
- has a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
For more details, visit our article on Dubai & UAE Job Seeker Visa 2022: Everything You Need to Know About the UAE’s Job Exploration Visa
Business entry visa
The Business Entry Visa allows investors and entrepreneurs to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE. The visa offers easy entry processes without the requirement of a sponsor or host.
Multi-entry tourist visa
Besides a regular Tourist Visa sponsored by the tourism establishment in the UAE, a five-year multi-entry tourist visa was introduced.
The new multiple-entry tourist visa can now be issued for all nationalities in a step that aims to facilitate the process for tourists and visitors. The five-year visa enables tourists to enter multiple times on self-sponsorship and remain in the country for 90 days on each visit, which can be extended for another 90 days.
The only requirement to be eligible for this visa is submitting the following:
- proof of having a bank balance of $4,000 (AED 14,700) or its equivalent in foreign currencies during the last six (6) months prior to submitting the application.
Please make sure your passport mentions your first name as well as your last name, as the UAE has stopped allowing entry to tourists whose passports give only either of the two.
Moreover, Dubai’s tourism body is working with authorities to roll out the five-year multiple-entry tourist visa on a much bigger scale to attract more tourists. Currently, the visa is being rolled out softly. Initiatives are being taken to roll out more visas and make applications accessible via the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing digital platform.
In addition to the Multi-entry visa, as part of the reforms, the UAE has resumed issuing 60-day tourist visas.
For more details, visit our article on 5-Year UAE Tourist Visa 2022: How to Apply for a 5-Year Tourist Visa to the UAE?
As per the Family visa rule in the UAE, parents could earlier sponsor their children who were under 18 years. Now, male children till the age of 25 can be sponsored by their parents. Disabled children can also get parent sponsorship under a special permit, and unmarried females can be sponsored for an indefinite time.
Entry permit to visit relatives or friends
A visitor can apply for an entry permit to visit friends and relatives if they are a relative or a friend of a UAE citizen or resident. It does not require a sponsor or a host.
Entry permit for a temporary work mission
Visitors who have a temporary work assignment like probation testing or a project-based mission, and are sponsored by the employer can apply for an entry permit for a temporary work mission. A visitor can apply for this entry permit if he/she is a relative or friend of a UAE citizen or resident.
Some of the requirements include:
- a temporary work contract, or
- a letter from the employer clarifying the visit purpose
- proof of health and fitness to work.
Entry permit for study and training
The entry permit for study and training is primarily intended for those attending training and study courses or participating in internship programs. The sponsor for this type of permit can be universities or educational or research institutions licensed in the country or government or private entities.
The requirements include a letter from the entity clarifying the details of the study or training, or internship program and its duration.
Residence permit for humanitarian cases
Residence permits to the UAE will be issued for the following humanitarian cases:
- a female resident whose husband of UAE nationality passed away in the country and has one child or more will be eligible for a residence permit.
- parents or children of a UAE citizen who holds foreign passports
- spouses and children of Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) state citizens who hold foreign passports
UAE entry permit extension
According to some reports, some UAE entry permits can be extended for up to 90 days, depending on the purpose of the visit and other factors, provided sponsored person’s passport must have at least 6 months of validity and the application for tourist entry permits should be done by the relevant tourism company.
Moreover, applicants who meet all requirements and conditions may be granted an entry permit extension within 48 hours. The extension can be requested online through the website or smart app of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customers and Ports Security(ICA) by following the steps given below:
- Register and create an account in the ICP smart service system.
- Apply and pay the necessary fees.
A 30-day extension is allowed to be issued twice and will cost AED 610 (USD 166.07). However, for GCC residents, an application for a 30-day extension costs AED 260 (USD 70.78) and must be accompanied by a passport copy.
The extension may further exceed up to a month for the following three cases:
- Healthcare entry permits – can be extended up to 90 days for AED 510 (USD 138.85).
- The entry permit of those who accompany GCC citizens – can be extended up to 60 days for AED 260 (USD 70.78).
- Study permits – can be extended up to 90 days for AED 610 (USD 166.07).
Please note that the staying period for visit entry permits will be identified based on the visitor’s purpose of visit and according to the discretion of the authority. However, it must not exceed one year.
Furthermore, the head of the authority can extend the visit entry permit if there is a serious reason for the request and provided all fees have been paid.