More details have emerged about a plan to grant long-term residency visas to a group of key professionals in the UAE.
Investors, entrepreneurs, executives, as well as specialists working in medicine, science or research will be granted permission to stay in the country for up to 10 years as part of the plan, which was approved by the UAE Cabinet earlier this year.
Outstanding students will also be eligible for a long-term visa as part of the changes, which are expected to encourage professionals to settle in the Emirates long term.
The Government wants key professionals to stay for longer in order to make the UAE competitive as it tries to shift to a knowledge-based economy and away from a reliance on the oil and gas sector.
But to qualify, they must meet a series of requirements, which were released by the Government this weekend.
What will investors need to qualify and what type of visa will they be granted?
They will be eligible for either a five or 10-year residency visa, depending on the size of their investment in the UAE.
Those who own property worth Dh5 million or more will be eligible for a five-year residency visa, while those who hold an investment through a deposit in an established company or a business partnership worth Dh10m or more will be granted a renewable residency visa every 10 years. Others who have made various investments of no less than Dh10m, including property – which must be worth no more than 40 per cent of the total investment – will also qualify for a renewable residency visa every 10 years.
An investor’s spouse, children, as well as one executive director and one adviser can also obtain long-term visas. Business partners that invest Dh10m will also be eligible. Investors will be granted permission to enter the UAE for a six-month period with multiple entry in order to apply for the long-term visa.
Can a property be mortgaged, or investment financed?
No. Under the rules specified, both the property or investment must be wholly owned, not borrowed. Ownership must be proven by documents showing an investment retention of at least three years, and a standard financial liability with a financial solvency not exceeding Dh10m.
What about entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs with a previous project worth a minimum of Dh500,000, or those with the approval of an accredited business incubator in the UAE, will be granted a five-year visa, with the possibility of upgrading to an investor visa, provided they meet the requirements.
An entrepreneur’s business partners, three executive directors, spouse and children will also be granted visas under the scheme. Entrepreneurs will be given permission to enter the Emirates for a six-month period with multiple entry, and the option to renew for another six months, in order to apply for the five-year visa.
Are executives eligible for a long-term visa?
Yes. Certain executives are eligible for a long-term visa. The owners of leading, well-known and internationally-recognised companies; those with high academic achievements, professional experience and position, such as an engineer in a rare speciality working in a private company in the UAE, will qualify.
What about scientists, doctors and researchers?
Researchers working in the disciplines of science and knowledge, as well as doctors, specialists, scientists and inventors will be granted a 10-year visa, so will be those working in the fields of culture and art.
To qualify, they must have a valid employment contract in a specialised field considered a priority for the UAE.
In addition, doctors and scientists must meet at least two of the following conditions in their work: a PhD degree from one of the world’s top 500 universities; an award or certificate of appreciation for their work; a contribution to major scientific research; published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications; membership of an organisation which requires excellence to qualify; and a PhD degree, in addition to 10-year professional experience in the applicant's field of work.
Scientists must be accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council. Holders of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence are also eligible for the 10-year visa.
Spouses and children will also be included under the visa for researchers, scientists and doctors.
What about artists and creatives?
"Creatives" - those working in the fields of culture and art - are also eligible if they are accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development Inventors, hold a patent which adds value to the UAE’s economy with the approval of the Ministry of Economy Exceptional Talents, or have exceptional talents documented by patents or scientific research published in world-class journals.
Who qualifies as an outstanding student and how long will they be granted to stay in the UAE?
Outstanding students with a grade of at least 95 per cent in school and a grade point average of at least 3.75 on graduation from universities in the UAE and abroad will qualify for a five-year visa for themselves and their families.