Independent of one`s actual primary country of residence, it can make sense to hold other options available for a variety of reasons. Whether it is for simple means of comfort (hibernating in warmer regions in winter), facilitating business in a foreign country or region or preparing for an envisaged expatriation – the reasons are as diverse as they are personal.
UAE Residency: Many Paths – No Golden Route
While the „Golden Visa“ concept of granting full citizenship against substantial investment into the local economy has not been adopted in the UAE as yet, investors can avail of several options to obtain a long-term resident status.
As a general rule, UAE residency visa can be obtained through a fairly inexpensive foundation of one`s own company (on- or offshore), by way of being sponsored by an employer or by means of investing into property.
Quite obviously, being independent of third parties (employer) is key when it comes to a matter as critical as one`s residency status, so obtaining the visa on grounds of property investment has proven to be a viable option alongside the company foundation route.
It is worth mentioning that this article applies to the Emirate of Dubai only, as implementing regulations of the federal immigration laws tend to differ substantially across different emirates.
Eligibility Requirements for Property Investor`s Visa:
- Property Value (as per title deed) 1m AED or above
- Only residential property qualifies for the issuance of an investor visa
- Off-Plan property does not qualify the owner for an investor visa (only habitable property)
- No mortgage must be registered against the property
- In case of jointly owned property, the individual share must amount to 1m AED or more (as per title deed)
- Proof of income equal to or in excess of 10,000 AED per month.
The residence status will be issued for a timeframe of two years (renewable) and the main visa holder will be eligible to obtain residency visa for his family (next of kin/spouse) at a cost of 6,000 AED per issuance. It is also noteworthy that the visa granted on the grounds of property investment does not by itself include the right to work within the UAE. Also, any UAE residence visa requires the holder to enter the country at least every six months in order to prevent the visa to become void.
Please also note that these visa regulations are subject to changes (please check the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs – Dubai for updated information).
Residential Investment Property with Visa as Add-on
A common misunderstanding is the assumption that the acquired property would require to serve as the investor`s official residence, which is not the case. For an investor who is not intending to reside permanently in Dubai, this can play an important role, implying that the property can be rented, yielding constant cashflows rather than sitting vacant.
In case a property is to be purchased through a corporate entity (i.e. onshore or freezone company), the investor, through his/her status as shareholder and/or managing director in the company also qualifies for the residence status (see also my article about property in offshore companies here). With visa issuance usually comprised within the service packages for establishment of a company, it will most likely make sense to obtain the residence status during the setup process of the company foundation.
As a side effect, the duration of the granted visa is longer (three instead of two years) and the fees – also to obtain dependent`s visa – are slightly lower.
As of today, there is no plannable route to become a UAE citizen, however, there is a host of options available to obtain the residency status. For investors planning to setup a company or venture within the UAE or from one of its numerous freezones, applying for the residency status by virtue of the function within the company (shareholder and/or managing director) is the way to go considering effort as well as costs.
For a foreign property investor however mulling the acquisition of residential investment property within the Emirate of Dubai – and possibly a later immigration – the „Residency-Through-Property“-option comes as a welcome bonus.