UAE Golden Visa: Change in minimum salary requirement causes spike in demand

Long-term residency holders explain how their lives have changed since getting the 10-year visa


Sahim Salim


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 21 Nov 2022, 9:30 PM

Ever since the UAE decreased the salary requirement for Golden Visas for skilled professionals, the demand for the long-term residency has skyrocketed. Arabian Business Centre (Amer Centre – Sheikh Zayed Road) in Dubai has been issuing about 30-40 Golden Visas daily since the scheme was expanded back in October.

Firosekhan, operations manager at the centre, said most of the applications they handle are for professionals and businessmen. “This year, we have issued more than 12,000 long-term residency visas.”

As part of the expanded Golden Visa scheme, more skilled professionals can get the long-term residency, with the minimum monthly salary requirement dropping from Dh50,000 to Dh30,000. Disciplines include medicine, sciences and engineering, information technology, business and administration, education, law, culture and social sciences.

The applicants should have a valid employment contract in the UAE, and be classified in the first or second occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation system. The minimum educational level is a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

According to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), over 151,600 Golden Visas were issued in Dubai between 2019 and 2022. This is expected to go up significantly now that more categories of expatriates can get the coveted visa.

Typing centre agents told Khaleej Times that the 10-year residency is the most popular among residents after the Advanced Visa System went into force.

How life has changed for these residents

Rosine Saad, a Lebanese expat, applied for the Golden Visa for practical reasons. “My visa was expiring at the time, and I didn’t have a permanent visa. I am active in the arts scene, so I was eligible,” she said.

However, it wasn’t only the case of seeking legal stability. “I also wanted personal stability. Being from a nationality that can’t do ‘visa runs’, I wanted something that connects me here. I feel that the UAE is my second home, and I grew here as a person in the last 10 years.”

When she received it, Rosine said she was overwhelmed with gratitude. “I felt humbled and grateful. They saw something in me,” she said. “Now, I can focus on what I want to do without being stressed about my legal status. I feel like I can take my time to explore creatively.”

In the past, she added, she would sometimes take odd jobs just to be in the country legally.

“I hope it gets renewed again in 10 years. I would also really hope to see medical benefits for Golden Visa recipients, this would make a huge difference for those who have no medical insurance,” she said.

When Mir Imran Hussein came to Dubai from India, he only intended to stay for two or three years. “Many expats are the same, but then the city is so welcoming so when the option for a 10-year visa came up, I went for it,” he said.

Mir said that it gave him the chance to plan his life and to think about things like buying his own house and starting a production company.

“Stability is key especially when you have a family. When your visa is renewed every two or three years, you can’t really make plans,” he said.

Mir said that the process itself from applying to receiving took from seven to 10 working days. “Everything was so smooth.”

After receiving it he said that he felt a sense of responsibility. “This country rewards you for your efforts and so I plan my every step carefully and hope to inspire others.”

As a Golden Visa holder, Mir said he hopes to get visa-free travel across the GCC and to receive information from the authorities concerned regarding investment opportunities in the country.


Cost, benefits

For applicants within the UAE, the visa costs between Dh2,800 and Dh3,800. Among the new benefits that its holders enjoy are:

  • Staying outside the UAE for over six months won’t affect the validity of residency.
  • They can sponsor parents on the long-term residency.
  • They can sponsor children without any age limits.
  • There is no cap on the number of support staff they can sponsor.

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