The UAE Cabinet has approved a long-term visa system for investors, entrepreneurs, professionals and specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, and for creative talents of culture and arts, including their spouses and children.
This will facilitate business and create an attractive and encouraging investment environment for the growth of business for investors, entrepreneurs and professionals.
It defines two categories for investors, the first of which is where investors in a property of a value of AED5m (£1.07m, $1.36m, €1.2m) or more will be granted a residence visa for five years.
The second category allows for a renewable residency visa every 10 years, for public investments through a deposit, an established company, business partnership of AED10m or more, or a total investment of not less than AED10m, provided real estate investments are less than 60% of the total investment.
No loans and three-year commitment
Additional investor conditions include that the amount invested shall be wholly owned by the investor, not loaned, and should be proven by supporting documents.
It also stipulated that the investment must be for at least three years with a financial solvency not exceeding AED10m, and that the long-term visa could also be extended to include business partners, provided that each partner contributes AED10m, the spouse and the children, as well as one executive director and one adviser.
Two types of entrepreneur
Long term visa will be issued to two categories of entrepreneurs: those having a previous project with a minimum of AED500,000 or having the approval of an accredited business incubator in the country.
They will be granted a five-year visa first, upgradable to an investor’s visa subject to meeting certain specified requirements.
The benefits of the entrepreneurial visa include entrepreneurs, partners, three executive directors, spouse and children. The visa first allows the entrepreneurs to enter the UAE for a six-month period with multiple entry facility and then to apply for the long-term visa.
Benefiting only the affluent
There is disenchantment that the long term visa plan excludes most foreign residents, benefiting only the affluent and highly qualified people.
Foreigners make up close to 90% of the UAE’s 9.7 million population, and the new policy is meant to give expatriates a bigger stake in the economy and foster long-term growth.
“As it is, the long term visas will be limited to wealthy property investors, entrepreneurs and specialiaed talents and researchers,” said Jojo James, chief executive officer of Dubai-based Fosbury Wealth Managers, and partner, Tamim Chartered Accountants.
James reasoned that any resident expatriate or investor from abroad who can afford to spend AED5m on property for a five-year visa would rather take the already existing route of investing a minimum of AED1 million in property for a residence visa, though renewable every year as long as he holds the property.
Aniruddha Pande, resident manager (Dubai), LIC International, said: “The relaxation of the visa restrictions is suitable to encourage more people to come, stay longer and spend and invest more, at a time when businesses are facing a sort of downturn in the economy which may force many expatriates and their families to return home, depriving the economy of much-needed spending and investments.
“The new class of investors and entrepreneurs will give rise to high demand for investment advisers as the investing public need professional guidance to choose suitable assets.”
Retiree asset class
The new visa rules follow a plan to introduce a five-year visa for expat retirees older than 55 years to encourage expats to remain in later stages of their life as well as to keep capital in the host country.
As per the new rules, expats over 55 years will be able to obtain the new visa if they own real estate of at least AED2m, have savings of more than AED1m or can prove income of at least AED20,000 per month.
Subhasish Roy, authorised consultant with Nexus Insurance Brokers, said: “The visa for retired expats will result in increased investment in the property sector and the emergence of a new alternative asset class in the UAE called retirement communities.”
Online registration deferred
Meanwhile, India has deferred a controversial decision to make online registration mandatory for ECNR (emigration clearance not required) passport holders flying to 18 countries, including the UAE.
A top emigration officer stated that the decision to make ECNR registration mandatory for Indians flying to these countries on an employment visa has been “deferred due to difficulties raised by the community”.
The new ruling regarding the registration, which was scheduled to be effective from January 1, 2019, has been kept in abeyance until further order. However, the notice added that any emigrant wanting to register voluntarily can do so.