UAE: 6 types of non-work residency visas available for expats

All non-work permit categories can be renewed provided they continue to meet the requirements


Ajanta Paul

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Published: Wed 28 Feb 2024, 4:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Feb 2024, 12:20 AM

To establish the UAE as a premier destination for work, investment, entrepreneurship, education, and lifestyle, the Emirates has introduced a significant expansion of its visa scheme. With more than 9.06 million expats currently residing in the country, the UAE will only witness the community grow rapidly.

With the aim to attract global and retain talents and experts from all over the world the UAE launched several visa options. This expansion of visa schemes enables expats to experience a high standard of living without the necessity of a work visa.

As part of the non-work visa scheme, people can also retire safely and comfortably in the UAE. All non-work visa categories can be renewed provided they continue to meet the requirements. Below are the visa categories that do not require a work contact.

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1. Remote work visa

A remote work visa, also known as the 'virtual working programme', allows the holder to work remotely for their current employer and relocate to the UAE. As a result, foreigners will be allowed to enter the UAE on their own initiative and work in accordance with their visa requirements.

Visa duration: 1 years


Applicants will need the following:

  1. Passport with a minimum of 6 months validity.
  2. Health insurance with UAE coverage validity.

For employees:

  • Proof of employment from a current employer with a one-year contract validity, a minimum of $3,500 per month salary, last month's payslip and 3 preceding months’ bank statements.

For business owners:

  • Proof of ownership of the company for one year or more, subject to extension, with an average monthly income of $3,500 per month or its equivalent in foreign currencies and 3 preceding months’ bank statements.
  • Proof of work/employment outside the United Arab Emirates and that the work is conducted remotely.
  • If applying for permits for family members, applicants are required to submit their valid health insurance and passport along with fee payment for each member.

How to apply

If you wish to apply online:

  1. Log onto the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Dubai (GDRFAD) portal.
  2. Create a username and password.
  3. Choose the service required labelled 'Golden Visa'.
  4. Submit documents required and pay subsequent fees.

Non-work visa applications can be submitted as per the rules and regulations of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security on their website:

2. Retirement visa

Retired foreigners can apply for a long-term visa of 5 years.

For a retiree to be eligible for the retirement visa in Dubai, he/she must:

  1. either have worked for not less than 15 years inside or outside the UAE, or be 55 years old or more at the time of retirement and
  2. own a property/properties of no less than Dh1 million or
  3. have financial savings of no less than Dh1 million or
  4. have a monthly income of Dh20,000 (15,000 a month for Dubai).

The visa is valid for 5 years with the possibility of renewing it if they meet the eligibility criteria.


To apply for the retirement residence visa in Abu Dhabi, you will need to provide:

  • For fixed deposits:

A statement issued by a bank licensed to operate in or out of the UAE showing a deposit of at least Dh1,000,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies and that the deposit will remain for a period of not less than two (2) years.

  • For real estate:

A real estate unit value certificate issued by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) or any other competent authority in charge of real estate registration in the UAE.

A search certificate issued by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) or any other competent authority in charge of real estate registration in the UAE proving that the property is not subject to seizure by any judicial authority and has a value of at least Dh1,000,000.

  • For annual income:

A bank statement proving an annual income of no less than Dh240,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.

How to apply

Non-work visa applications can be submitted as per the rules and regulations of the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security on their website:

Through GDRFA or thought DLD (Dubai Land Department)

3. Student visa

Outstanding students and all-round high achievers are eligible for student visas. Students graduating from public or private secondary school with a final grade of 95% or above or a university student with a distinctive UAE or international university-awarded GPA of at least 3.75 qualify for the five-year study visa.

If you are an exceptional student, you could well be eligible for a 10-year residency visa.

Applying for a visa

Students from outside the UAE will need to apply for a Student Residency Visa. GCC nationals do not require a visa, while outstanding students are eligible for a 5 year visa.

Student Affairs offices at universities will facilitate the process to assist students with their visa. Elements required to process a visa include an official admission letter from the university they will be studying at, a medical fitness test, a visa sponsor (which can either be the university or a relative who is a resident), and approval of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai.

4. Jobseeker visit visa

Foreigners are granted a visit visa to search for a job without requiring a host/sponsor in the country, for one trip. You can apply for a job-seeker visa with a validity of either 60, 90 or 120 days.

Eligibility for a jobseeker visa:

To get a visit visa for the purpose of exploring job opportunities, the applicant must fulfil the following conditions:

  • He/she must be in the first, second or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) professional levels of jobs, or
  • a graduate from the best 500 universities in the world according to the classification approved by the Ministry of Education and must have graduated within the last 2 years.
  • He/she must hold a bachelor's degree or its equivalent
  • He/she must fulfil the prescribed financial guarantee.

Required documents

  • A coloured photo
  • A copy of the applicant’s passport
  • Qualification certificate (attested)

More information here

5. Green Visa

The Green Visa is a type of residence visa that allows holder to self-sponsor for five years, eliminating the need for a UAE national or employer to sponsor their visas. It is designed to attract highly skilled professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and top students to the country.

Benefits for this long-term residency include the ability to sponsor sons up to age 25 and unmarried daughters, regardless of age.

In addition to facilitating and simplifying the requirements of all residence types, the visa offers longer flexible grace periods that reach up to 6 months to stay in the country after the residence permit is cancelled or expired to facilitate family members’ residence.

More details here and here

6. Golden Visa

Since its launch in 2019, the UAE’s much sought-after Golden Visa has been awarded to thousands of investors, professionals, students and entrepreneurs.

The 10-year visa offers various advantages for holders, including issuing residence permits for family members, including spouses and children. The age limit for sponsored children has been increased from 18 to 25 years, and there is no age restriction for unmarried daughters. Residence permits are granted to children of determination, regardless of their age. The Golden Residence remains valid without any limitations on the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE.

Professionals working in healthcare, media, IT and other industries with a monthly salary of Dh30,000 or above are eligible for the Golden Visa.

This golden residency scheme is renewable and reserved for certain categories ranging from investors with a minimum of Dh2 million investment, entrepreneurs, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers, scientists, frontline workers, Covid-19 heroes, and exceptionally talented students and first-degree relatives.

More information here and here


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