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New UAE Visa System: Changes to Gold and Green Residences; family sponsorship rules; entry permits explained

Emiratis, expats, investors and visitors will benefit from streamlined processes and simplified procedures with the launch of new UAE passport and visa services.

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) has announced the launch of the third generation of the UAE passport and the trial of an “advanced visa system”.

The new visa regime, which will come into force today (October 3), introduces new streams of residency and entry permits, and simplifies existing options. Here, we explore the sweeping changes that have been made to the country’s entry and residency system for expats:

• Visit visas

– All visit visas are available for single or multiple entries and can be renewed for similar periods. They allow a stay of 60 days – against the previous 30.

– Job Exploration Visa does not require a sponsor or host. It is granted to those classified at the first, second or third level of proficiency according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and to recent graduates of the top 500 universities in the world.

– A visitor can apply for an entry permit if they are a relative or friend of a citizen or resident of the United Arab Emirates. It does not require a sponsor or host.

– The five-year multiple-entry tourist visa does not require a sponsor. It allows the visitor to stay in the country for up to 90 continuous days, which can be extended for a similar period, provided that the total length of stay does not exceed 180 days in one year. This visa requires proof of having a bank balance of USD 4,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency within six months prior to submission of the application.

• Family sponsorship rules

For all types of residency, the age of sons who can be sponsored has been raised to 25 (previously 18), with no age limit for unmarried daughters. Determined children are granted a residence permit, regardless of their age. Green Residency can even sponsor their first degree relatives.

• Changes to the Golden Visa program

Several amendments have been introduced in the Golden Visa program, allowing more categories of people to obtain the coveted 10-year visa.

– More qualified professionals can obtain the long-term residence, the minimum monthly salary required increasing from 50,000 Dh to 30,000 Dh. Disciplines include medicine, science and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences. Applicants must have a valid employment contract in the UAE and be classified at the first or second professional level according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

– Investors can obtain the long-term visa when buying a property worth at least 2 million Dh, even with a loan from “specific local banks”. Off-plan properties are permitted with ‘local approved property companies’.

– Golden Visa holders can sponsor children without age limit. There is also no limit to the number of support staff they can sponsor.

– Staying outside the UAE for more than six months will not affect their visa.

• Green Visa

This new track offers a five-year residency to qualified employees, without a sponsor or employer. Qualified employees with a valid employment contract and a monthly salary of at least 15,000 Dh; freelancers; and investors can apply for the visa.

• Grace period after visa cancellation or expiry

Usually, once a residency visa expires, expats are given a 30-day grace period to leave the country or obtain another visa. But under the new system, flexible grace periods of up to six months will be offered. It is not immediately clear if this applies to all visa types.

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