UAE golden visas: How outstanding pupils and students can apply

Role reversal with students sponsoring parents gives security and opens up job opportunities

Sharmina Basheer with her son Ahmed Yousuf aged 2 and parents Basheer and Kamarunisa. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The golden visa for exceptional students is a cause for celebration for families relieved about the security and firm foundation it gives them.

University graduates and high school high achievers who secure golden visas are no longer dependent on their parents’ jobs and can complete their studies on their own merit.

Many outstanding university graduates who secured 10-year residency visas last year have obtained long-term residency for their parents this year.

It’s a big thing to be my own sponsor and a great opportunity. It is a big relief for my family.
Sharmina Basheer, pharmacy student

Brilliant high school pupils who secure five-year visas can apply for the same period for their family.

This is part of major UAE immigration changes, awarding a golden visa to different categories of people identified as high-priced assets, from investors, businessmen and technology experts to researchers and artists.

For pharmacy student Sharmina Basheer, it was a proud moment to sponsor her parents.

“We bought a cake and called our relatives to celebrate. The news was even published in the newspaper in my home country,” said the 27-year-old, who has lived in Dubai longer than in Tamil Nadu, in southern India, where she was born.

“It’s a big thing to be my own sponsor and a great opportunity.

“My father worked in Dubai and has been living here for 40 years.


UAE visa changes at a glance


“That my parents can remain here brings us great comfort. It is a big relief for my family.”

The college student completed a Master’s degree in clinical pharmacy from Dubai Pharmacy College and now works as a pharmacist in Dubai.

Ms Basheer sponsored her parents and 2-year-old son in March this year after she obtained the golden visa in September last year, while her husband has a visa from the company that employs him.

Retaining talent

Legal experts say recognising students for academic excellence encourages them continue to live and work in the Emirates.

“The UAE can keep talent within the country. It’s extremely positive as these talented students will go into the workforce and contribute to the economy and development,” said Haider Hussain, partner at Fragomen, an immigration services company.

“It ensures these individuals are comfortable, think of the UAE as their home.

“It gives students and parents security.

“There has been this tag of the UAE as a transit location that people come here for a few years and leave.

“This will change in the next few years as the majority of people will be on long-term residencies that are not tied to work or employment.”

Haider Hussain, partner at Fragomen, said recognising students for academic excellence will encourages them to stay longer in the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National

What is the criteria?

Achieving excellent grades is the main criteria for high school pupils and university graduates.

For high school students:

Applicants should have a grade 12 certificate from a government or private school licensed by the Ministry of Education or an educational authority.

The score in the secondary school certificate or equivalent must not be below 95 per cent.

The certificate must be approved by the Ministry of Education.

For graduates:

The applicant should have secured a Bachelor's or Master's degree, or doctorate, from a UAE university licensed by the Ministry of Education.

The college should have an “A” or “B” classification rank as per the standards of the ministry.

The student’s grade point average or GPA should not be less than 3.5 for graduates of “A” classified universities and 3.8 for “B” ranked institutions.

Who qualifies and must you be a UAE student?

Outstanding pupils and university students can apply if they are enrolled at or graduate from a UAE university, or top international universities.

Mr Haider said talented students outside the UAE should be from the top 500 universities, require a recommendation letter from their university and approval from the Ministry of Education.

“They need to submit a letter stating where they are enrolled and show their grades,” he said.

Students can check if their university makes the cut in the list of top universities regularly updated by the ministry or submit a request to find out if their university qualifies.

What is the age range?

There is no specified age limit as this is based on the school year and open to students with a grade 12 certificate or above.

Is a letter from a UAE education authority required?

A recommendation letter is mandatory from the Ministry of Education or similar education authority such as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

This letter is a requirement as it will only be issued for students or graduates who satisfy the qualifying criteria.

What is the cost?

For university students, the 10-year golden visa costs Dh2,790 for residency fees and Dh1,070 for identity charges.

High school pupils are eligible for a five-year golden visa that costs Dh2,280 for residency charges and Dh575 for emirates identity.

This does not include fees for medical examination.

It has been a big cost saving for Ms Basheer’s family.

After her father retired, her parents were on her brother’s sponsorship that cost Dh10,000 in total for one year.

With the golden visa, they spent about Dh8,000 for both parents for 10 years.

“My parents stayed to help take care of my son after I started working,” she said.

“Now I don’t have to worry as they will be together with us.”

How long can the process take?

Once the application is submitted with the required documents, the applicant should receive an initial approval or denial within five to seven working days.

Students who got the golden visa late last year were able to secure long-term visas for their family early this year. The processes are more streamlined this year.

Once a student gets a golden visa, does their entire family qualify?

Parents and siblings can also secure golden visas. The family of high school pupils qualify for a five-year golden visa and parents and siblings of graduates can secure the 10-year golden residency.

Important links and step-by-step process

Mr Haider said applications can be done via the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), the Dubai residency agency, or the ICA, the federal immigration unit.

Requests to confirm grade 12 certificates and for attestation of overseas universities can be done via the Ministry of Education link.

For the GDRFA application: register as a new user in case there is no earlier account registered. Select the golden visa category for outstanding students or graduates, attach the documents listed, pay the fees and submit the request.

A similar procedure can be followed on the ICA portal.

Or submit documents to the Amer centre instead of uploading the papers online.

Updated: October 19, 2022, 3:11 AM