UAE hopes to attract skilled professionals with new visa rules

The new schemes have been described by local media as the biggest shake-up in the country’s immigration policy in years.

photo taken on January 24, 2022 shows seagulls flying across Abu Dhabi's seaside
The UAE is attempting to attract new immigrants to the country by liberalising its visa rules [File: Karim Sahib/AFP]

The United Arab Emirates has rolled out new visa rules, with the objective of attracting more skilled professionals to the country, as it seeks to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and generate economic growth.

The visa rules are aimed at “improving the quality of life and making the experience of living, working and investing in the UAE a pleasant and happy one,” local outlet Gulf News reported Major General Sultan Yusef al-Nuaimi, the director general of residency and foreigners affairs, as saying.

The schemes were rolled out on Monday, and have been described by local media as the biggest shake-up in the country’s immigration and residency policy in years.

Included among the changes are longer 60-day tourist visas allowing long-term residency for professional workers and easier access to the UAE’s 10-year Golden Visa scheme.

The latter refers to visas that are offered to gifted students, exceptionally skilled foreign workers, and people with public investments of at least 10 million dirhams (about $2.7m) who can live in the country without the need for a national sponsor, subject to renewal every 10 years. Additionally, the recipients, who can either apply online or be nominated by Emirati government bodies, can own 100 percent of their businesses located on the mainland.

Under the new rules, parents are now allowed to sponsor their children until they are 25 years old, up from the previous age of 18.

A five-year, flexible multi-entry tourist visa was also introduced that allows travellers to stay in the UAE for up to 90 days in a row.

Furthermore, the job exploration visa, which allows professionals to find employment within the country, does not require an Emirati sponsor or host.

Candidates for the Green Visa – which include freelancers, self-employed people, skilled workers and investors – can now sponsor themselves without having to rely on a UAE national or employer to do so. They can also sponsor first-degree relatives for the duration of their residency, and are allowed a grace period of up to six months if their residence permit is cancelled or expires.

Source: Al Jazeera