The new long-term 5 and l0-year UAE residency visas, and changes to UAE company ownership laws are BIG news. These were one of the most trending topics as soon as the new visa rules were announced in the UAE, resulting in a huge spike in Google searches for related terms. People from specific occupations can now apply for 10-year UAE visas or other long-term residency visas, and, companies based outside free zones can be fully foreign-owned. These facts were huge but welcome surprises to many who live and do business in the UAE, as well as those considering relocating to the country.
Professions and Categories eligible for the long-term UAE residency visa
As per the announcements by the UAE cabinet on May 1, 2019, there are five categories who will qualify for the extended residency visa in the UAE.
The General Identity Directorate in Khalifa City of Abu Dhabi, Major-General Saeed Rakan Al Rashedi, Director-General for Foreigners Affairs and Ports, said that the long-term UAE residency visas would be granted to investors, real estate investors, entrepreneurs, talented people like doctors, researchers, innovators and outstanding students.
1. General investors will be granted a 10-year UAE visa
This is subject to the following conditions:
- Public investments either through deposits or via a company which is not less than AED 10M
- Out of this total investment, more than 60% has to be in non-real estate assets
- The investor should hold full ownership of these assets. Anything under a loan or mortgage cannot be taken into consideration. In the case of loaned/ mortgaged assets, he/she can prove that they reserve the rights of investments for three years as a minimum.
- The asset should not be embroiled in any claims or financial disputes
These general investors are eligible for a 10-year UAE residency visa, that can be renewed. Visa for dependents is also valid for 10 years. If your primary asset is a business, you can have partners, provided they too have invested AED 10M each. You can also get a 10-year UAE visa for the executive director and one advisor. Similar to other residency visas in the UAE, you cannot be out of the country for more than a duration of 6 months.
2. Real Estate Investors get a 5-year UAE residency visa
While most conditions for real estate investors looking for long-term residency visas in the UAE are similar to those of general investors, the minimum value of the property investment, in this case, needs to be AED 5M. These visas are valid for a period of 5 years for both applicant, dependents, executive directors and one advisor.
3. Entrepreneurs get a 5-year residency visa in the UAE
The rules of eligibility for long-term visas in the UAE are slightly different for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should own a project worth not less than AED 500k and have accreditation certificates from the government to apply for the 5-year UAE visa.
The benefits are also slightly different for entrepreneurs.
- Five-year visa. This can be upgraded to investors visa
- Five-year visa for dependents
- Six-month validity entry visa with permits for multiple travels, which can be extended by 6 months
- Five-year visa for three executive directors.
4. Researchers, Scientists, Doctors and Innovators eligible for 10-year UAE visa
To qualify under this criteria, you need to have a valid work contract, which specifies your role in fields that are prioritised in the country.
6. Outstanding Students get a 5-year residency visa in the UAE
Students with a minimum of 95 per cent in secondary school with a distinction of 3.75 GPA upon graduation from any university are eligible for this extended visa.
As per this announcement, all applicants who are eligible for a long-term UAE residency visa, including outstanding students, will also be allowed to sponsor their families (spouse and children).
What will ‘the long-term UAE visas’ and ‘changes to company ownership laws’ mean?
What changes are likely to be expected from the property market with the new laws in place? We will attempt to answer this question through some of the key insights we have gathered over the years. We also got in touch with three top real estate industry experts on what it will mean for the property market.
THE DYNAMICS OF THE UAE MAY SHIFT
The need to renew one’s visa every two years can mean that you can never get rid of the feeling that you might be about to enter your final phase. A 10-year UAE visa or the long-term UAE visa for 5-years would make an enormous difference to that. The population, in general, may start to seem far less transient. As a result, interest in learning the local language and assimilation into the UAE culture may increase further.
EVEN MORE ENTREPRENEURS AND INNOVATORS WILL ARRIVE
Bayut CEO Haider Ali Khan welcomed the new UAE visas as an opportunity to attract even more talent from around the world. He said: “I think in the long term, the changes to the visa rules are going to help make Dubai and the UAE a hub for technical excellence. The way to build that excellence is by attracting the best talent available from around the world, and, also having a good ecosystem in place to support that talent. These are the people who are going to innovate new enterprises, which in turn will go on to contribute to the economy and create more jobs. Having a long-term visa stamp on passports, whether the visa holders are scientists, tech innovators or entrepreneurs, they can look towards building a long-term career in the UAE, and think about having their contribution valued.”
Dubai is often referred to as ‘the city of the future’, and, it has been suggested that it will be the world’s most innovative city in 10 years thanks to its major innovation projects. The UAE has always welcomed innovators, but it appears that welcome is about to become that bit more effusive. The new UAE residency visas will be offered to specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields, including, for example, doctors and engineers. This is a pool of people who have much of the expertise needed to solve the major problems of the world. The opportunity for foreign investors to own 100% of the companies formed in the UAE outside of the free zone is also likely to attract more entrepreneurs and innovators.
THE UAE COULD BECOME A GLOBAL HUB FOR SCIENCE
You probably know that the UAE has its own Mars mission, a remarkable feat for a country of its size, and is also a leader in sustainable development initiatives, including the world’s largest solar plants being developed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The new visas could offer a greater sense of security to scientists, allowing them to develop long-term careers in the UAE, rather than staying for a short period and then taking their expertise elsewhere.
PERCEPTIONS OF THE REGION MAY SHIFT
We may look back on this moment in time as a pivotal shift in worldwide perceptions of our region. Depending on the success or the economic contribution that is made by these new rules, we may see other countries follow suit. The sense of permanency for foreigners has huge impact potential, including greater assimilation.
INTEREST IN UAE PROPERTY OWNERSHIP COULD INCREASE
While these new long-term UAE visas won’t apply to all of us, they will certainly give a large number of expats a greater feeling of permanence in their adopted country. This will provide even more reason to opt for the long-term security of owning property in the UAE as opposed to renting. Our panel of UAE real estate experts agree with us on this, and you can read their detailed insights below. But, let’s not forget the commercial property sector. We could see the focus shifting towards business owners buying offices in the UAE, as well as other commercial premises, rather than renting, as they consider a longer term future thanks to the new 10-year UAE visas’ law.
Agent views – input from industry experts
Don’t just take our word for it. We asked three industry experts for their opinions on what the law changes regarding UAE visas and UAE company ownership will mean for the property market and the UAE in general.
Paul kelly, operations director, Allsopp & Allsopp
“I think that the long-term UAE visas will undoubtedly generate more interest in property sales in the UAE, it’s really good for the market. If someone is on a 10-year visa or even a 5-year visa, it brings around a completely different mindset and approach to life in Dubai. There is more permanency to your situation, which in turns makes you think more long term about your time in Dubai. A part of this is purchasing a property. If you’re going to be anywhere in the world for a good few years, then it makes sense to purchase a property and invest in yourself and your future.”
There is a buzz around the market, certainly, in terms of people talking about the new visas. It’s far too early to translate this into tangible results but the optimism, confidence and outlook is positive since the announcement.
It’s also too early to say that the announcement of the 100% foreign ownership of companies in the UAE has had an impact, indeed we are still waiting to see exactly what companies or industry sectors will be included in this. However, there is a lot of talk and confidence injected into the market on the back of the announcement. What is going to happen is that there is going to be a lot more investment in Dubai and a lot more people encouraged to set up business here. This, in turn, will create jobs, population growth and more demand for property, both on the rental and the buying side.
I do agree that the new visa rules will encourage people to stay for longer and that this will have an effect on the property market. If I can give an example of my Aunty and Uncle, who moved to Australia from the UK in the 1980s. Within a year of being there, they felt that their long-term future lay in Australia – they bought a house and they are still there now. In that time, they have owned businesses and purchased numerous properties. Now, had they been on a two-year visa and been uncertain what there future held or how long they would have been able to stay in Australia, they may not have gone down the same path and they could have been back in the UK for the last 30 years, owning businesses there and investing in UK real estate.
Regarding the commercial side, I think once the 100% ownership rules have been clarified, there will be an increased interest in the commercial sector. The other effect of the rules will be an increase in the number of people looking to stay in Dubai for longer periods of time. This will boost the overall economy and specifically in real estate, this will lead to more people purchasing properties. I think we will look back in a few years and pass comment on how much of a positive impact the introduction of these two rules had.”
Mario Volpi, sales manager, Engel & Volkers
The new ruling could be a game changer as people in the future will see the UAE as their home, rather than just a temporary place to live and work. More people will look at their housing arrangements, and it is clear to me that the long-term UAE visas will attract regular renters to invest and become homeowners. Relaxed visa rules, or allowing longer period visas, could also turn the UAE into a country where older people could retire to. This particular market is huge, and if this market can be tapped, it will give a welcome impetus to the property market in general.
Zarah Evans, managing partner, exclusive links
“At the moment, the proposed 10-year UAE visas and the long-term -year visas are being offered to specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields. Whilst we are still waiting on clarity on whether it will be a residency or working visa, it is said to include their families. This can only have a positive impact on residential property sales, where Dubai will be looking to the expats to further boost the country and economy.
Dubai always loves a good story, and for sure, this has been the buzz topic of the week and has had a positive impact across all sectors, tables and households. There has been much media about it, so whilst we haven’t had clients call us specifically on the announcement, we have seen a rise in inquiries and positive sentiment since the beginning of last week.
Our commercial department has been particularly busy this week and old inquiries have renewed interest. I do think the announcement by the UAE cabinet will have more impact on the commercial sector, as opposed to the residential sector. Both sectors, though, have a knock-on effect, and I think any long-awaited announcement on relaxing restrictions to encourage innovation and investment into a city can only be seen as a positive move with encouraging impacts.
As an established agency our teams have regular discussions on newsworthy and relevant topics with our clients. However, we do manage over 700 properties for overseas owners, and I wouldn’t say we have been rushed off our feet with outside curiosity. I think we are all waiting for some more clarity on some of the points. As a company, we have also been proactive on our own social media and staying in touch with our clients on our own views and comments.
I have now lived in Dubai as a business owner for 20 years. During that time, I have invested in Dubai as my home, I own properties and have raised two children here. For me, personally and professionally, it is a long-awaited announcement. Since the property market fall in 2014 due to the collapse in oil prices, the forecast was for continued drops and then an expected rise as we head closer to Expo 2020. This announcement is a positive injection into the property market that will see an upturn earlier than we expected. It is so refreshing, rather than every discussion in town to be on the depressed state of the property market, to be turned to positive impacts and market confidences, which we haven’t seen in a while.
Due to our central geographical location, I believe Dubai has always been on the map as a business hub for multinational companies and global names. Whilst you have always been able to own 100% of your business in free zones areas, their locations and setups don’t always suit every business. With the recent relaxed company ownership rules, more entrepreneurs and enterprises can benefit as it will open up more options to cater to more innovative business needs. The longer student visas will also encourage more investment into the UAE – a positive impact on the overall sentiment.”
our final thought – the new laws are a game changer
Well, if that does not convince you what a game changer these new 10-year UAE visas and new UAE company ownership laws will be, then nothing will. We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. For more insights into the UAE property sector, check out our regular Last week in real estate feature.