In May 2018, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed announced some sweeping changes to the United Arab Emirates’ visa laws, designed to attract outside investments by boosting innovation and scientific development within the UAE. The first of these changes are just beginning to take effect and may permanently shape this area’s unique economy. For global investors, the early stages of the UAE Ten-Year Visa may make the Emirates an increasingly attractive investment worth exploring.
Recent Changes to Residence Permits and Visas in the UAE
Under the new UAE Ten-Year Visa, global investors and professional specialists like doctors, engineers, research scientists, and even top-performing students (and their families) may receive a UAE residency visa for up to 10 years. Global investors are also permitted to maintain 100% ownership of companies within the UAE but outside Free Zone borders.
Students who graduate during the course of their five- or 10-year visa may be able to apply for continued residency visas so that they can implement the lessons they’ve learned by contributing to the expanding UAE economy.
Sheikh Mohammed posted on May 20, 2018 that this decision would permit the UAE to remain an incubator for innovators and a hub for investors by expanding the 10-year visa to “investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators.” The latter two categories are deliberately broad and can include specialists in a wide range of medical and scientific research fields. These workers and bright minds can benefit (and benefit from) the UAE’s flexible legislation and open business environment.
Before these changes, a UAE residency visa issued by a Free Zone would last only three years (up from the ordinary two for offshore visitors). Locating one’s business in one of these Free Zones was the only way to maintain a 100% foreign-owned holding, while companies located outside Free Zones had to have an Emirati majority stake. This visa expansion essentially removes these restrictions and can allow for far more long-term settlement, planning, and outside investment among the UAE’s innovator community.
Which Professionals and Foreign Nationals Can Apply for a UAE Ten-Year Visa?
Under these changes, the following professionals can apply for a UAE Ten-Year Visa:
- Medical doctors
- Ph.D. holders in certain tech and innovation specialties
- Biochemical, biomechanical, computer, aerospace, petroleum, and other engineers
- Global and high-net-worth investors in (and broker-owners of) real estate and foreign companies
In addition to tech experts and global investors, students who are currently studying in the UAE can get a visa valid for up to five years, while top students in a handful of scientific, technological, and medical specialties can receive the same UAE Ten-Year Visa that will be available to already-practicing professionals.
Why These Changes to UAE Visas Now?
With these changes to the UAE Ten-Year Visa, the UAE hopes to continue increasing its economic expansion to become one of the largest players on the world stage. And considering around 4 in every 5 individuals currently living in the UAE is an expatriate, continuing to foster a skilled, immigration-friendly environment is likely to spur economic growth at a time when other countries are evaluating their border and visa policies.
Many business owners and investment experts have applauded the expansion of the UAE Ten-Year Visa. The UAE is heavily invested in by a number of emerging world powers, including India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the UK. This change could increase the already-diverse array of economic investors, helping provide some stability and ensure the UAE is seen as a safe harbor in an otherwise turbulent region.
It’s also likely to boost investor confidence, that hard-to-quantify economic measure that can further buoy optimistic sentiments. Even when other world powers are struggling economically or socio-politically, the UAE continues to be an advantageous location for businesses to hire talent and grow their operations.
Experienced Expansion Services
If you’d like more information on relocating an employee to or expanding business operations in the UAE, Velocity Global can help. Our versatile and customizable suite of services allows us to work with a wide range of partners to ensure your needs are met. Reach out to Velocity Global today to learn how we can assist with your global expansion needs.