UAE property visas: All you need to know

Property investors can either apply for a residence permit - renewable every two years and applicable to Dubai properties - or a residence visa - renewable every six months for homes bought in any emirate.

Pictured, Jumeirah Beach Residence. To be eligible for either the residence permit or visa, properties must be valued at more than Dh1 million.  Sarah Dea / The National
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Whether you are an investor looking to buy property based on where you want to live, educate your children, grow your business or simply spend your leisure time, this guide is designed to help property owners navigate potential pitfalls in obtaining a UAE residence permit or visa. While investment in property remains one of the key contributors to the non-oil GDP in the UAE, there are many hurdles to overcome in the country’s immigration and property environment. Nofi Mojidi, from Fragomen Worldwide’s Private Client Practice, explains how to acquire residency linked to property ownership.

What is the difference between the residence permit and the residence visa?

The residence permit and visa for property owners grants temporary residency to qualified investors and their dependents on the basis of property ownership. The principal difference between the two is that the residence permit for property owners is renewable every two years for properties purchased in Dubai, while the multi-entry residence visa for property owners is renewable every six months and valid for properties in any emirate.

Mandatory minimum investment threshold

To be eligible for either the residence permit or visa, properties must be valued at more than Dh1 million. Mortgages are allowable for the residence permit, but if the property is mortgaged a minimum 50 per cent of its original price must be paid off, or Dh1 million must be paid off if the property’s value is more than Dh2 million.

Investment criteria

The investment property must be in a freehold area and entirely owned by the investor, with the title deed issued in the name of the applicant. Lease-to-own deeds are not accepted. Additionally, the property must be ready for the investor to move in and its size must be proportionate to the number of family members occupying it (if applicable). If the property is owned by more than one investor, the shared value must be more than Dh1 million, or a legalised marriage certificate has to be provided if the investors are married. Verification of the investment requirement is undertaken at the Dubai Land Department for the residence permit and the relevant immigration authority for the residence visa. Furthermore, there is a minimum monthly income requirement of Dh10,000 or equivalent in a foreign currency. The investor’s income source may derive from inside or outside of the UAE.

Documents required

The standard documentation required to obtain either the residence permit or visa includes copies of passports and current visas, passport photos, police clearance certificates, title deeds, legalised marriage certificates, attested bank statements, proof of health insurance for applicants and dependants, and a Dewa bill. Both the Dubai Land Department and the relevant immigration authority can request additional documentation.

What to watch out for

Important factors to take into account include the following:

• Spouses and dependants are subject to fulfilling the dependents’ sponsorship criteria.

• Sponsorship of domestic workers is allowable under the residence permit. However, under the residence visa, sponsorship of domestic workers is subject to approval from the relevant immigration authority.

• In-country medical examination is required for investors applying for the residence permit.

• Neither the residence permit nor the residence visa status leads to citizenship.

• Holders of the residence permit or the residence visa are prohibited from working.

• There is no maximum period of stay for both the residence permit and the residence visa. However, residence permit holders should not stay outside of the UAE for more than six consecutive months.

• The Department of Economic Development issues an investor’s license for every permit granted. The license is valid for four years and renewable thereafter.

How much does it cost

The residence permit costs about Dh13,000 in government fees. If the investor sponsors dependants, there is an additional Dh3,000 deposit per dependant. Estimated government fees for the residence visa are approximately Dh2,300 per applicant, which is the same for each dependent, due every six months.

Nofi Mojidi is the relationship manager for Fragomen Worldwide’s Private Client Practice, a global corporate immigration services provider.

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