«Golden Visa» is an immigration tool (a type of residence permit) that allows you to obtain residency on preferential terms and in a short time in return for investing in the economic sector. The term itself appeared in the USA in 2012. Currently, several dozen countries on all continents practice providing Golden Visa on different terms. Since 2019, the UAE has also been issuing a «Golden Visa».
According to statistical studies, about 88% of people living in the Emirates are expatriate foreigners, i.e. hired employees who came from abroad to work in local companies. It is almost impossible to obtain UAE citizenship. However, the government strongly encourages those who wish to work in the Emirates to develop various sectors of the economy, as well as technological, scientific and industrial spheres.
Initially, only investors, large entrepreneurs, and world-renowned scientists could get a Golden Visa. Since April of this year, the government has relaxed the conditions and expanded the list of those who can use the program. All applicants can be divided into three categories:
- entrepreneurs and investors;
- public figures and talents;
- doctors, scientists and valuable specialists from different fields of knowledge.
The first category includes owners:
- real estate;
- companies and enterprises (this also includes co-owners);
- startups in accredited business incubators.
The second category includes:
- Engineers, inventors, innovators. Priority is given to specialists in the field of artificial intelligence, IT, electronics and electronic engineering. Such specialists are necessary because hundreds of infrastructure projects are deployed in the country, which are at various stages of development. They need to be completed, and this requires talented engineers of a narrow profile.
- Promising athletes.
- People of creative professions who have merit: musicians, artists, singers, designers, dancers, artists.
- Outstanding public figures: activists of non-governmental and humanitarian organizations.
The third category includes:
- Doctors. Attention to the representatives of this profession increased with the beginning of the pandemic. The authorities attract specialists in various fields to raise health care and the safety of living in the state to the highest level. However, specialties related to the study of HIV problems, malignant neoplasms, virology, and with the onset of a pandemic, epidemiology are considered priority.
- Scientists who have received a doctorate from one of the 500 leading universities in the world.
- Scientists who do not have a doctorate, but are engaged in promising research projects, as well as having merits within the country (medals, patents, discoveries, etc.).
- Talented schoolchildren, students and graduates of universities. If this is a student, then his academic performance should be at least 95%. At the same time, it does not matter whether the teenager is studying in a private or public school. If we are talking about a university student, then his academic performance should correspond to a score of 3.75. Graduates also have their own criteria. They must be graduates of any UAE university or higher education institution that is in the top hundred of the world.
Types of «Golden Visa»
There are two of them: five-year-olds and ten-year-olds. They are issued depending on the amount invested and the direction of activity.
It can be obtained if the following conditions are met:
- buy real estate in the amount of 2 million dirhams;
- the funds intended for investment cannot be a loan, they must be fully paid out of personal funds and deposited immediately;
- the acquired areas can be sold no earlier than through three years after purchase.
Residence permit in the UAE applies to the closest family members: parents, wife (husband), children (boys under the age of 25, girls – without age restriction), unmarried.
Starting from April 2022, persons investing in real estate can apply for a «Golden Visa» for a period of 10 years.
It is suitable for owners of enterprises with an authorized capital of half a million dirhams, as well as owners of companies that have the approval of business incubators accredited in the Emirates.
Together with the owners and co-owners of the company, three managers can get a residence permit.
A ten-year residence permit is available to those who are ready:
- contribute 2 million AED to the investment fund;
- establish an enterprise with an authorized fund of 2 million AED;
- invest more than 2 million AED in the state economy with the condition that the share of real estate acquisition will be less than 40% of the invested capital.
The validity of the residence permit extends:
- for family members;
- home staff (the number of assistants is not limited);
- business partners who also agree to invest 2 million AED;
- executive director and legal adviser of the firm.
Relatives get the right:
- for residence;
- conducting commercial activities;
- free movement;
- staying in the UAE until the expiration of the permit, even in the event of the applicant’s death.
Pros and cons of Golden Visa
The acquisition of a long-term residence permit gives many advantages to the owner:
- 0% tax on profits, dividends, withdrawal of funds, capital gains;
- protection from double taxation: the state has concluded agreements with more than 70 countries that the income you receive in the Emirates will not be subject to taxation in your homeland;
- freedom of entrepreneurship and movement;
- developed infrastructure that facilitates the conduct of any type of business, including transport, communications, medicine;
- high level of security and good legal protection;
- the right to apply for a local driver’s license;
- to live together with family in comfortable conditions, and to teach children in prestigious educational institutions with international educational standards.
According to the new rules, the owners of the Golden Visa do not have to stay in the country permanently. You can live anywhere, but only visit here. At the same time, the mandatory condition to come to the UAE at least once every six months has been canceled.
There are practically no disadvantages. For some, the disadvantage may seem to be the fact that the «Golden Visa» does not allow you to become a citizen. But there are also positive aspects here. A long-term residence permit can be extended as many times as you like, i.e. in fact, in the UAE you can live your whole life fully using all the benefits and opportunities of this country. And if you extend the ten-year Golden Visa three times, i.e. live in the Emirates for 30 years, then you can get citizenship under the naturalization program. Well, if during this time any special merits to the state accumulate, then citizenship can be obtained earlier.
The depositor of capital must purchase real estate in the amount of 2 million AED, which is equivalent to approximately US$ 544,500 on the objects:
- built and commissioned;
- under construction from accredited developers;
- mortgaged from an accredited bank.
From the amount spent on the purchase of real estate, it is necessary to pay a duty of 4% to the Land Department. In addition, it is necessary to pay for a medical examination of all family members, arrange medical insurance, pay state duty.
The financial estimate for the purchase of real estate of a family with two children looks like this (calculation in US currency):
- purchase of an object – $544,500;
- registration fee 4% – $21,800;
- medical examination – from $820;
- medical insurance – from $ 1600;
- state fees for visas and identity cards – $ 4172.
The total amount is approximately $ 572.8 thousand. But the depositor will also have to pay for the services of a lawyer, notary, translator, consular legalization and the cost of documents.
Real estate market
According to the Financial Holding company UBS (Switzerland), the real estate market in the United Arab Emirates is stable: the risk of a collapse in prices is minimal. For example, in Moscow, prices for residential and office premises are considered inflated with a risk of decline, and in Zurich and Munich – inflated with the threat of collapse.
Long-term observations and analytical studies have consistently confirmed the stability and reliability of the real estate market in the United Arab Emirates. The government constantly monitors the market situation and reacts to its slightest changes in order to prevent overheating. For example, in 2021, prices in this segment of the economy crept up and increased by 7% for the first time in 6 years. Government agencies immediately imposed restrictions on investing to obtain a ten-year Golden Visa: no more than 40% of the total deposit amount.
Real estate for the purchase of a «Golden Visa»
There are two forms of ownership of real estate in the Emirates. You can own it:
- on loan;
Ownership of property on a lease does not apply to the land on which the building stands, only to itself or part of it. This type of ownership has three varieties:
- leasehold, which gives the right to own for 99 years with the possibility of sale, leasing, internal reconstruction.
- usufruct, which also allows you to own property for 99 years, but without the right of internal reorganization.
- musatakha is a 50–year-old property with the possibility of reconstruction.
Full ownership has no time limit and includes ownership of the land under the building.
An investor visa in Dubai gives the right to purchase real estate in special freehold zones. Here you can choose a suitable object for permanent residence or for renting.
Takes 2-3 months and includes several stages.
An accompanying lawyer will help you with this.
You can select an object in person or remotely. An accompanying lawyer will help you choose a suitable option depending on the investor’s goals and reserve it. Then he will help to make a purchase and sale transaction and get the owner’s certificate.
A lawyer will provide a list of necessary papers. They will need to be collected, translated, notarized and transferred for legalization. To get a Golden Visa, you will definitely need:
- photocopies of the applicant’s and family members’ passports;
- a copy of the marriage certificate;
- a photo in the color of the applicant and family members;
- a document confirming the ownership of the property and its value.
This stage takes from three weeks to one and a half months.
To do this, you need to contact any certified medical center. For foreigners over the age of 18, lung fluorography and a blood test for the absence of dangerous infectious diseases are mandatory. The clinic issues the appropriate certificate.
The applicant and all members of his family must purchase health insurance.
Step 5: Submit documents to the center for public Services and Public Administration dealing with citizenship issues
At this stage, fingerprints must be taken at any accredited public services center, biometric data and the original passport must be provided. The remaining documents can be submitted remotely to the Federal Office for Identification and Citizenship or to the General Directorate for Residency and Foreign Affairs.
Step 6: Get a temporary investor visa (what it is and what it gives)
This is a temporary document that is valid for 6 months. It is issued so that an entrepreneur and his family can legally enter the UAE and start settling in a new place of residence. During this time, it is necessary to change the temporary visa to a long-term residence permit.
After all the papers have been submitted and checked, it is still necessary to pass a Due Diligence test. This check should prove that there is no threat to law and order and national security on your part. Testing usually takes no more than a week. But sometimes inspectors may have questions, and then additional information will be required. In this case, the check may take a month.
If everything is in order, a Golden Visa will be pasted into your passport and an identity card will be issued.
Where to apply for a Golden Visa in the UAE
- Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship – Federal Office for Identification and Citizenship
- General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners Affairs – General Directorate for Residents and Foreigners.