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New business ownership and visa laws have been introduced in the UAE, in a bid to attract more expatriates to the country. For those who wish to move to Dubai or Abu Dhabi on a long-term basis, this comes as good news.
The changes were announced last summer, but have now begun to be implemented. As part of this, expatriates who meet the criteria will be able to apply for a visa of up to 10 years.
The 10-year visa will be available for investors, entrepreneurs and specialists working in certain industries, including medicine, science or research.
For foreign investors, both five- and 10-year residency visas will be available – which one is determined by how sizeable their investment is in the UAE. For those moving to the UAE with children, it is reassuring to know that an accepted investor’s spouse and children are also eligible for the long-term visas. Investors can also appoint an executive director and an advisor.
Entrepreneurs can claim a five-year visa under certain conditions. If they have had a previous business worth a minimum of 500,000 AED (£104,549 at the time of writing), they may be eligible. Another approach is to gain the approval of an accredited business incubator in the UAE. The visa again extends to an applicant’s partner and children, as well as any business partners and up to three executive directors. In some cases, the entrepreneur visa can be upgraded to an investor visa.
Those working in certain specialisms will also benefit from the new 10-year visa. This includes doctors, scientists and inventors, as well as specialists in culture and art, and researchers in science and knowledge. Eligible applicants can bring their partner and children under their visa conditions.
Expatriates who wish to retire to the UAE are also set to benefit from the new changes in the law. Expats living in the UAE who are aged 55 or over can now apply for a new five-year retirement visa. To do so, they must meet certain requirements, which includes owning a property in the country worth at least 2 million AED (£418,199 at the time of writing).
Expatriate retirees also need to show that they have savings of at least 1 million AED (£209,100 at the time of writing) or an ongoing income of more than 20,000 AED (£4,181 at the time of writing) a month.
Another key change comes in the foreign ownership of businesses. Until now, full ownership of countries in the UAE was only available in the free zones. In most parts of the UAE, an Emirati partner was required to own at least 51%. This new law allows for 100% ownership of businesses across the country. It is hoped the change will attract new foreign investors to the UAE, either with the intention of setting up their own new venture or through the acquisition of local companies.
Finally, certain students are also set to benefit from the longer-term visas, with the intention of encouraging the best pupils to stay in the UAE once they have graduated. There are criteria regarding their school performance to qualify, and a five-year visa could be awarded to them and their families.