Visa reforms to boost expats' confidence to stay in UAE Filed on April 13, 2019 | Last updated on April 13, 2019 at 07.11 am
Visa reforms to boost expats confidence to stay in UAE

Long-term residential visas and greater flexibility for retirees would encourage more expats to invest their savings in the UAE.

The visa reforms introduced recently by the government for families, visitors, experts and investors, are a clear indication that the UAE is keen on continuing with its drive to make the country a permanent home for expats and to attract more businesses investments.

Under the new reforms that were announced last year, widows, divorced women and their children are granted a one-year residency visa extension. The new rules also allow a one-year extension of residency period for dependents who have finished their university studies; and visit visa holders can apply for a 30-day extension for two times without having to leave the country.

With the introduction of a 10-year-residence visa for highly-skilled workers and investors, it has created more certainty for expats and increased confidence for investors, which will have a direct positive impact on the business community in the UAE. The long-term residence visa would also result in more consumer spending and savings in the country as people will be staying for a longer period.

Just last month, the UAE Cabinet announced that it had adopted a decision to amend provisions of the resolution on sponsoring of foreign workers to their families in the country. 

The Cabinet's decision to make 'salary' and not 'profession' as the sole criteria for residents to sponsor their spouses is an inclusive measure and a progressive move that will enable not just professionals but also skilled workers to procure resident visas for their spouses and children.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) has implemented many of the visa reforms while the latest ones will come into effect in the near future. The government said the changes were intended at providing the best services for expats and easing life for everyone and to make the Emirates as competitive as possible as it's keen on remaining a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors.

How the reforms will impact residents and businesses

UAE lawyer Nasser Malalla from Nasser Al Malalla Advocates and Legal Consultants, said the new visa reforms is an indication that the government considers humanity and is keen on easing life for expats and boosting the economy. "Recent changes to the UAE visa system shows flexibility in the country's legislations. The new rules would create confidence among expats and investors and will make them stay longer in the country.

"The visa reforms in the country are expected to encourage residents, especially highly-skilled professionals to buy homes and spend more on other properties because they now feel that the UAE is their home."

According to Malalla, long-term residential visas and greater flexibility for retirees would encourage more expats to invest their savings in the UAE, which will bring a huge boost to the local economy.

"The new reforms also allows divorcees and widows and students to stay longer in the UAE and now provides for all expats to bring their families here as long as they earn a reasonable salary to cater for them," explained the lawyer adding that it would boost the UAE's population which will positively impact schools, hospitals and retail businesses.

"With a one-year visa extension for divorcees and widows, it would a benefit thousands during times of turmoil," added Malalla.

Ali Bashir, a 52-year-old Pakistani office administrator, said recent visa reforms is very welcome change and means happy and comfortable stay in the UAE.

"I am excited about the many changes to the visa system," he said.

"The government allowing everyone with a good income to bring their families here irrespective of their jobs is such a great move. It shows inclusiveness and will benefit many workers."

Bashir also noted that offering a visa extension for students after completing Grade 12 is a great support for parents.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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