New green visa shows UAE is 'open for business'

Five year visa is aimed skilled professionals such as teachers, medics and middle management

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The new five-year green visa for residents is proof that the UAE is open for business, a leading employment expert has said.

The new visa, which comes into effect on September 5, offers people the opportunity to stay in the country for longer, compared with the two and three-year limits on standard residency visas.

These changes will attract new talent, with residents able to sponsor themselves, removing the pressure on employers to cover the cost, said Emily Roberts, principal consultant at Dubai recruiter Genie.

The people who will particularly benefit are freelancers or those working on shorter-term projects, she said.

A key benefit of the green visa is the extension for male dependents to be sponsored up to the age of 25, as previously it was restricted to the age of 18
Emily Roberts, employment expert

“The UAE is seen as a hub of activity for the forward thinker and these green visas being available only shows that the region is evolving with the pace of growth,” said Ms Roberts.

“It shows the rest of the world we are open for business and ready for the best talent to come to the UAE.”

Green visas are available to “skilled workers” who earn more than Dh15,000 ($4,084) a month and possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent-level qualification.

That will allow many teachers, medical workers and middle managers to qualify for longer-term visa status for the first time, depending on their salary.

The government has not yet released the cost of applying and processing a green visa. The one-off cost for a 10-year golden visa is about Dh4,000.

Sponsoring relatives

The visa provides a five-year residency, without the need for an employer or other sponsor, and enables holders to bring first-degree relatives into the country for the duration of their stay.

“A key benefit of the green visa is the advantage for families as there will be the extension for male dependents to be sponsored up to the age of 25 as previously it was restricted to the age of 18,” said Ms Roberts.

“This will enable young male professionals to remain under their family sponsorship, which can be a big plus when trying to get on the career ladder in the UAE.

“I believe we will see a lot of families with the green visa will stay for longer in the UAE as the five-year validity will provide them with security.”

Visa lets you sponsor dependents

The new visas also allow a family to sponsor a female dependent of any age.

Ms Roberts said she believed this would also open up significant opportunities for young female talent in the region.

“This is a huge benefit as a lot of businesses are unable to provide employment visas for a one or two-month internship, as it doesn't commercially make sense for them,” she said.

“With this extension we may see more graduates entering the market sponsored by their parents which is an easier transition into working life.”

The new visas are also available to freelance or self-employed talent.

How to check if you qualify

To qualify they must show they also possess a bachelor’s degree, or a specialised diploma, according to the UAE Government’s website.

They must also hold a self-employment/freelance permit and show earnings no less than Dh360,000 from self-employment over the past two years or provide proof of financial solvency during their stay in the UAE.

“As the world is evolving there are many more categories of employment other than being employed,” said Ms Roberts.

“This [new visa] allows individuals who are defined in other categories to plan ahead.

“A digital nomad, a crypto entrepreneur, or a real estate investor can now think ahead with family in mind or perhaps settle for several years as opposed to thinking just a couple of years in advance.”

Vijay Gandhi, a director with HR and recruitment company Korn Ferry, said the green visa will also attract those looking for more flexible working conditions.

“People will be able to work on specific projects and not have to worry about being able to stay in the country once those projects come to an end,” Mr Gandhi said .

“It will help attract talent in sectors where there has been a shortage in recent times.

“You are likely to see a lot of people from digital sectors applying.”

However, the condition that green visas were only available to people holding a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, could limit the amount of available talent, said another employment expert.

“We’ve seen many instances in this region of companies not hiring someone because they don’t have a degree,” said David Mackenzie, group managing director of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones.

“Just because you have a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you are brighter than someone who does not have one.

“People who don’t have degrees have often had to work harder to reach the levels they have.”

He also said putting a premium on someone’s qualifications was going against the trend in other parts of the world.

“The common themes companies in the western world are looking for are experience and your skill set,” he said.

“The reality is you are going to be a better candidate if you have valuable experience in the industry.”

Updated: September 05, 2022, 6:05 AM