New UAE visa reforms: All we know so far

Dubai - The country ranks 23rd globally in terms of retention of talent

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By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli & Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sun 5 Sep 2021, 4:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Sep 2021, 10:17 AM

A UAE minister on Sunday announced a string of visa reforms that will help retain talent in the country. Among the new reforms are a ‘green’ visa, a federal freelance permit, and giving people more time to exit the country after they lose their jobs.

These came as the UAE announced the first set of 50 new projects that will be launched in September for the Year of the 50th.

“We have introduced a green visa for people who will not be attached to any companies. These visa holders will be self-dependent and be able to sponsor parents and children up to the age of 25,” said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

The new category complements the existing three-layer system in the UAE, which includes golden visa, residency, and tourist visa.

Besides this, changes are being made to short-term stays and freelance visas. Relaxations will also be made for visas to divorced women and students above the age of 15 who want to work.

“For students in the UAE, who are 15 years and above, and want to work in certain sectors and gain experience, they will be allowed to work and be granted visas. We are also relaxing the grace period one gets to leave the country after being made redundant. Instead of the previous 30 days, people will have 90 to 180 days to leave the country,” said the minister.

The underlying message behind these changes is to give more options to people to stay. “The UAE values people who have been a part of the ecosystem and contributing to our economy. They are creating jobs, adding value to the economy, and making investments. These changes have been made after studying the best practices globally.”


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The UAE has been attracting talent from all corners of the world and it no longer suffers from transiency in population like it did a few decades ago. The country ranks 23rd globally in terms of retention of talent. These changes are likely to further enhance its appeal and help attract more talent to UAE shores.

“During the pandemic, we saw a high demand for medical staff and doctors. In the future, there will be some niche disciplines that will be in high demand globally. We want to rebuild the whole system to ensure that the ecosystem and residency system are attracting more talent. We have made changes but there is always room for improvement.”

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