How To Get Permanent Residency in Dubai

Evening Cityscape In Dubai's Residency City
Author:
Rihab Saad

Managing Director
Next Generation Equity

If you’re dreaming of calling the UAE your home, you may be looking into how to get permanent residency in Dubai.

The United Arab Emirates offers diverse residence visa opportunities, catering to individuals from various backgrounds, such as entrepreneurs, exceptional students, investors in Dubai’s markets or real estate, retirees, and highly skilled professionals. Among the available options are the Golden Visa, Green Visa, Employment Visa, Remote Work Visa, Property Owner Visa, Student Visa, and Retirement Visa.

If you want permanent residency in Dubai, this article provides an in-depth look at each step you must take. We will cover each UAE residence visa option, the benefits of getting a Golden Visa, and the lifestyle you can enjoy as a resident of this vibrant city.

What is Permanent Residency in Dubai?

Permanent residency in Dubai refers to the ability to live and work in the UAE indefinitely. However, traditionally, the UAE did not offer this to expatriates. Instead, residence visas were the norm, typically tied to employment or family sponsorship and valid for 2 to 3 years. Recently, the UAE introduced the ‘Golden Visa’ and ‘Green Visa’ for long-term residency of 5 to 10 years, aimed at specific groups like investors and professionals. Although, these visas still require renewal and are not permanent in the strictest sense.

The Difference Between Residency By Investment and Citizenship By Investment

The difference between Residency By Investment and Citizenship By Investment is that Residency By Investment allows individuals to live, work, and study in a country, while Citizenship By Investment grants these privileges, plus the right to vote and the ability to travel with that country’s passport.

Residency Visa Options in Dubai

Dubai, a major hub for business activities, provides a range of visa options for those looking to reside there. The UAE government issues various types of visas and entry permits to foreigners, including the Golden Visa, Green Visa, Employment Visa, Remote Work Visa, Property Owner Visa, Student Visa, and Retirement Visa.

If you want to know which type of visa you may be eligible for, read the below requirements for each visa.

The Golden Visa 

The Golden Visa is a long-term residency visa designed to attract foreign investors, entrepreneurs, and highly skilled professionals. This visa is valid for up to 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as you continue to meet the criteria.

Different categories of Golden Visa

1. Investment in Public Investments

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must have an accredited investment fund submit a letter stating that you have a deposit of AED 2 million, or
  • Submit a valid commercial or industrial license and a memorandum of the association stating that your capital investment is at least AED 2 million.
  • Must submit a letter from the Federal Tax Authority outlining that you pay the government at least AED 250,000 annually
  • If applicable, submit proof that you (and your family) have valid medical insurance.

Please note that you must own the investment completely and cannot receive a loan.

2. Investment in Real Estate

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Submit a letter from the land department of the respective emirate stating that you own one or more properties valued at a minimum of AED 2 million.
  • You must submit this documentation if you have purchased the property with a loan from a specific local bank (approved by the competent local entity).

3. Entrepreneurs

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Own a technical or future economic project based on risk and innovation.
  • Submit a letter from a UAE auditor stating that your project is worth at least AED 500.
  • Submit a letter from the UAE authorities stating that your project is of a technical or future nature.
  • Submit a letter from a UAE-accredited business incubator to establish the proposed activity in the country.

4. Doctors and Scientists

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

5. Inventors

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must submit a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Economy stating that your patent adds value to the country’s economy.

6. Creative People in the Fields of Culture and Art

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must submit an approval letter from the Department of Culture and Arts in the respective emirate.

7. Executive Directors

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must submit a copy of your bachelor’s or master’s degree accredited by the Ministry of Education.
  • Must submit a letter of experience of at least five years holding the same position.
  • Must submit evidence of a salary of at least AED 50,000.
  • Must submit a valid work contract.

8. Athletes

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

9. Specialists in Engineering and Science

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must submit a copy of your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree certified by the Ministry of Education and a work contract.

10. High School Students

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Must have a minimum grade of 95% in public or private secondary school.
  • Must submit a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Education (Emirates Schools Establishment).

Please note that the visa may be extended beyond five years if you enroll in a major college in the UAE that requires a study period longer than five years.

11. University Students

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must have studied at a university that is rated in the top 1oo universities globally, based on the Ministry of Education rating system.
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Must be within two years of your graduation.
  • Must have your graduation certificate accredited by the Ministry of Education.

12. Pioneers of Humanitarian Work

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • Must be a member or outstanding employee who has worked for international and regional organizations for at least five years or must be a member or outstanding employee who has worked for civil associations and institutions of public interest for at least five years.
  • Must have received an appreciation award from a local, regional, or international organization focusing on humanitarian work.
  • Must have funded humanitarian work with at least AED 2 million.

13. Frontline Heroes

Requirements to receive a 10-year renewable visa:

  • You must be a frontline hero in an industry approved by the Frontline Heroes office (nurse, medical assistant, lab technician, pharmacologist, etc.).
  • You must have a competent authority letter stating that you have displayed extraordinary effort in crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Golden Visa Fees

Residence permit fee: AED 1100

Extra charge :
Knowledge dirham: AED 10
Innovation dirham: AED 10
Fee inside the country: AED 500

Delivery:
AED 20

If you want to check your eligibility for the Golden Visa, click here.

A graph detailing the number of Golden Visas's issued between the years 0f 2019 and 2022.
A graph detailing the number of Golden Visas issued between 2019 and 2022.

Green Visa

The Green Visa is designed for skilled workers, freelancers/self-employed workers, or investors/partners.  This visa allows skilled workers to live in the UAE for five years without needing a guarantor.

Green Visa Categories

1. Skilled Workers

Skilled workers must work in either the first, second, or third level of the occupations classification approved by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

These occupations include:

  • Legislators
  • Managers
  • Business Executives
  • Professionals in Scientific, technical, and human fields
  • Technicians in Scientific, technical, and humanitarian fields

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma.
  • Valid employment contract and a salary of at least AED 15,000 per month.

2. Freelancers/Self-employed Workers

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Obtain a freelance or self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or specialized diploma.
  • An annual income from self-employment from the past two years of at least AED 360,000 in total or proof of financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE.

3. Investors/Partners

Investors must be establishing or participating in commercial activities in the UAE.

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Gain approval from the ICP on the investment as per the investor’s rating system applied.
  • Proof of investment, the amount of which must be not less than AED 270,000.

Green Visa Fees:

Residence permit fee: AED 200

Additional fees (if the sponsored person is inside the country):

Knowledge Dirham: AED 10

Innovation Dirham: AED 10

Fee inside the UAE: AED 500

Document delivery: AED 20

Employment Visa 

The Employment Visa is tailored for foreign nationals employed in the UAE, necessitating sponsorship from their employer, who is responsible for the visa application process and the associated fees. Consequently, an employee’s residency status is directly linked to their employment situation.

Employment Visa Categories

1. Employment in the Private Sector

Requirements to receive a 2-year renewable visa:

2. Employment in the Government Sector or Free Zone

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Must be employed in the government sector or a free zone.
  • Must be an investor or partner involved in a commercial project.

Employment Visa Fees:

Residence permit cost: AED 200

Additional fees include:

  • Knowledge fee: AED 10
  • Innovation fee: AED 10
  • Domestic processing fee: AED 500

Delivery fee:

  • AED 20

Virtual Work Visa

The Virtual Work Visa is designed for remote workers and digital nomads from around the globe, allowing them to live in the UAE while continuing to work for employers or their own businesses outside the country.

Requirements to receive a 1-year renewable visa:

  • Submit proof that you are employed remotely by an entity outside the UAE.
  • Submit proof that your monthly income is at least AED 12850.

Virtual Work Visa Fees:

Residence permit: AED 200

Additional fees include:

  • AED 10 for Knowledge Dirham
  • AED 10 for Innovation Dirham
  • AED 500 if processed within the country

Delivery charge: AED 20

Please note that for residency extending beyond two years, there is an additional cost of AED 100 per year.

Property Owner Visa 

The Property Owner Visa is a residency visa issued to foreign nationals who own property in the UAE. It grants long-term residency to individuals based on their investment in the UAE real estate market.

Requirements to receive a 2-year renewable visa:

  • Must provide proof of purchase of a property that cost AED 750,000 (if you have a mortgage, at least 50% of the property value must have been paid).

This visa allows you to sponsor your spouse, children, or parents for an additional cost.

Property Owner Visa Fees:

Two-year investor residence: AED 9,912.50

Two-year family residence permit costs:

  • AED 7,082.25 for the spouse
  • AED 7,082.25 for the husband, valid for two years
  • AED 7,082.25 for each daughter aged 18 and above
  • AED 6,382.25 for each child below 18
  • AED 6,701 for each son aged 18 and above, valid for one year

One-year parental residency:

  • AED 8,882.25, applicable for one year
  • AED 318.75 for initiating a sponsorship file for the family

Student Visa 

The Student Visa is specifically crafted for international students pursuing their education at accredited institutions within the UAE. This visa facilitates students’ residency during their academic programs. Universities or educational institutions typically sponsor the visa, linking students’ residency status to their academic pursuits.

Requirements to receive a 1-year renewable visa:

  • Submit a certificate from the university or institute specifying the duration of the study.

Student Visa Fees:

Application charges: AED 100

Annual issuance cost: AED 100 per year

eChannel service charges: AED 150

Retirement Visa 

The Retirement Visa is a long-term residency option for retirees, allowing them to live in the UAE post-retirement.

Requirements to receive a 5-year renewable visa:

  • Must be over the age of 55 or have worked for at least 15 years inside or outside of the UAE.
  • Must own one or more properties valued at least AED 1 million, have savings of at least AED 1 million, or have a monthly income of AED 20,000 (15,000 a month for Dubai). It is acceptable to have a combination of AED 500,000 in either savings or a term deposit and a property worth AED 500,000.
  • Must provide a bank statement of the past six months.

Retirement Visa Fees:

Residence visa cost: AED 6,984.75

Residence visa renewal: AED 6,419.75

Dubai City Over River At Night

How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Dubai

You can apply for your UAE residence visa through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) website, the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) website, or various typing centers across the UAE.

Step-by-Step Application Process for a Residence Visa

Step 1: Secure a Sponsor

  • For Employment: Your employer acts as your sponsor.
  • For Family Residency: A family member who is already a UAE resident can sponsor you.
  • For Investors/Business Owners: You can sponsor yourself if you meet the criteria set by the UAE government.

Step 2: Entry Permit

  • Your sponsor must apply for an entry permit, allowing you to enter the UAE legally. This can be done through the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in the respective emirate.

Step 3: Enter the UAE

  • Once the entry permit is approved, enter the UAE within its validity period.

Step 4: Medical Screening

  • Upon arrival, or if you’re already in the UAE, undergo a medical screening at a government-approved health center. This typically includes a blood test and a chest X-ray to screen for infectious diseases.

Step 5: Emirates ID Application

  • Apply for an Emirates ID, a mandatory identification card for residents. This involves submitting biometric data and completing an application form at an accredited center.

Step 6: Health Insurance

  • Obtain health insurance from a provider licensed in the UAE. This is a prerequisite for a residency visa.

Step 7: Visa Stamping

  • With the medical results, Emirates ID application, and health insurance in place, your sponsor must apply for your residency visa to be stamped on your passport. This is usually done through the GDRFA.

Step 8: Collect Your Documents

  • Once approved, collect your passport with the residency visa, Emirates ID, and health insurance policy.

Required Documents

  • Two passport-size photos
  • Your original passport
  • Appropriately filled application form
  • Entry visa
  • Proof that you are healthy and of good character
  • In case an individual is entering with a family visa, then evidence of your family ties like birth and marriage certificate
  • If an individual enters with a work visa, provide a copy of your work contract, trade license, and firm documents.
  • Additional documents for travel purposes.
  • Proof of your health insurance policy

Additional Information

  • Validity: Residency visas can be valid for 1, 2, 3, or 5 years, depending on the type of sponsorship and the visa category.
  • Renewal: Residency visas can be renewed before they expire, following a process similar to the initial application.

Tips

  • Ensure all documents are correctly filled out and submitted to avoid delays.
  • Keep copies of all submitted documents for your records.
  • Check the latest requirements and procedures, as immigration laws can change.

Time Frames

Based on the visa type, the processing duration for a UAE residency visa ranges from 2 days to 3 months. Applicants are advised to apply in advance of their needs. Typically, standard visa processing takes 3 to 4 working days post-document submission, while express visa processing can be completed within 36 hours.

What are the Benefits of Permanent Residency in Dubai?

Becoming a permanent resident of Dubai comes with many benefits. Aside from the most obvious benefit of paying no personal income tax, you can also travel visa-free or with visa-on-arrival access to 170 countries and conduct business without restrictions. The benefits aren’t just for you; they extend to your family, too. As a resident, you can sponsor your family, children, or spouse, granting them access to all the same benefits as you.

You and your family will also have access to reduced healthcare costs through the government’s health services, which is a great benefit considering the high standard of healthcare in the UAE. As a permanent resident of Dubai,  you will also have the ability to purchase property and set up a business in the UAE. Financial services have also become more accessible, as you can easily open a bank account and apply for loans, whether for personal use, a car, or a mortgage.

Which is the Best Residency Visa in Dubai?

The Golden Visa is the most sought-after visa as it offers the longest-term residency option of up to 10 years in Dubai, renewable. It provides a substantial period for investors, entrepreneurs, and professionals to establish themselves and contribute to the local economy.

Advantages of The Golden Visa

  • A long-term, renewable residence visa valid for 5 or 10 years.
  • Grants foreigners legal work authorization in the UAE.
  • Offers significant tax benefits, as the UAE doesn’t have a personal income tax.
  • The visa holder’s spouse and children are included on the visa, regardless of age.
  • The visa holder can sponsor visas for an unlimited number of domestic helpers, including butlers, nannies, drivers, and other household staff.
  • Traveling in and out of the UAE is also made easier as it is a multiple-entry visa, allowing holders to re-enter several times without applying for a new visa.

Dubai City Boulevard during the daytime.

Your Dubai Residency Journey

As we have shown you, many residency visas are available in Dubai. So long as you fit the requirements for your preferred visa, going through the visa application can be made simple with the assistance of residency experts at Next Generation Equity.

Living in Dubai grants you top-notch healthcare services, no personal income tax, and world-class job opportunities. So don’t wait to apply for your permanent residency in Dubai; the sooner you start your application, the sooner you can call the UAE home. Contact us for a free consultation at Next Generation Equity, and we can help start your residence journey.

FAQ’s

Who is eligible for permanent residency in Dubai?

Investors, entrepreneurs, people with outstanding talents/professions, property owners, remote workers, students, and retirees are eligible for permanent residency in Dubai.

Can I get permanent residence in Dubai if I buy a house?

Real estate investors can apply for a two-year renewable residence permit if the property’s purchase value is equal to or more than AED 750,000 (USD 204,000) at the time of purchase.

How long are UAE residence visa permits valid?

UAE residence visas are valid for one, two, three, five, or ten years, depending on the purpose of the visa.

How do I apply for a residency visa through the ICP website?

To apply through the ICP website:
1. Register or log in to the smart services system with either your UAE pass or username and password
2. Click on the ‘Services’ tab, then the ‘Residency Services’ tab, and then follow the prompts from there based on which visa you are applying for
3. Fill in the application data,
4. Pay the fees

What types of residence visas are available?

There are many different visa options available that will provide you with long-term residency. These include the Golden Visa, Green Visa, Employment Visa, Investor Visa, Property Owner Visa, Student Visa, and Retirement Visa.

What are the benefits of becoming a permanent resident of Dubai?

As a resident of Dubai, you can enjoy healthcare, social security, and financial benefits. You can live, work, and study in the country, receive tax breaks, and secure better-paying jobs. Plus, you can open a business or private account in the country.

If I become a permanent resident in Dubai, do I have to pay taxes?

No, individuals do not have to pay income tax in the UAE. However, companies and businesses have to pay corporate tax.

How much does a UAE residence visa cost?

Aside from any investment or purchase you may need to make to become eligible for the visa, the actual cost of the residence visa is around 100 AED, with additional processing fees depending on where you submit your application.

What is the minimum investment amount to get permanent residency in Dubai?

The minimum for real estate or a UAE-based business investment is AED 1 million (USD 272,000). Alternatively, an investment of AED 10 million (USD 2.7 million) is needed for any other investment fund, deposit, or company.

What happens if I overstay my residence visa?

If you overstay a Dubai residence visa, you’ll face fees: AED 25/day (USD 6.80) for up to 180 days, AED 50/day (USD 14) for the next 180 days, and AED 100/day (USD 27) every day after the completion of 1 year. The UAE authorities give a grace period of 30 days after the visa’s expiration date. After this, you must leave the country and re-enter with an entry permit.

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