Which visa is best for the UAE?

In a world where business opportunities are rapidly expanding, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is becoming an integral part of the global economic landscape. Known for its financial centres, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, the region is a magnet for businessmen and corporations worldwide. Before you enter this world of business, you need the key - a visa. This country provides a wide range of visa categories tailored to suit different purposes of visits, from tourism and business meetings to work and family reunions. Let's look with Antwort Law at the main types of visas available in the UAE, their characteristics, costs and recommendations for choosing the best option.

To begin with, let us note that citizens of certain countries receive a visitor visa (30 or 90 days) immediately upon arrival in the country. For example, upon arrival, Russian citizens can obtain a multiple-entry 90-day visitor visa, valid for six months from the date of issue and for a total stay of 90 days.

1. Tourist visa (single or multiple entry): allows tourists to visit the UAE for up to 90 days. Since 2021, a five-year multiple-entry tourist visa has been introduced, enabling you to stay in the country for up to 90 days in one visit, with the possibility of an extension for another 90 days. The total period of stay should be at most 180 days per year.

2. Work visa: employment is permitted only in the company that initiated the invitation to work. If a foreigner is already in the UAE on a different type of visa and wants to switch to work, it is necessary to cancel the current visa and subsequent registration of a work visa. It is issued for two years.

3. Investor visa: intended for people investing in the country's economy. The visa provides the right to full residence in the country, including the ability to open bank accounts, access to medical services and the right to receive income from their investments in the Emirates, obtaining a visa for their immediate family and dependents, acting as their sponsor. They are issued for 2, 5 and 10 years. A visa issued for ten years is called Golden.

Investment opportunities include:

  • Contribution to investment funds in the UAE;
  • Establishment of a company in the Emirates with a minimum authorized capital of 10 million dirhams;
  •  Entering into a partnership with an existing company with an investment of at least 10 million dirhams;
  • Purchase of real estate for 750 thousand dirhams.

The duration of the visa directly depends on the volume of investment. For example, to obtain a Golden Visa for ten years, you must invest at least 10 million dirhams in investment funds or shares of companies, the investment must not be made on credit, and at least 60% of the amount must go to non-real estate assets.

Visas to visit relatives or friends: provided to those wishing to see their loved ones living in the Emirates. This visa is issued based on an invitation from a UAE resident for up to 30 days with the possibility of its subsequent extension. The visa sponsor initiates the extension process.

The sponsor may be:

  • a person who has resident status in the UAE;
  • companies officially registered in the Emirates;
  • hotels that have received a license and the right to act as a sponsor.

Student visa: This visa is designed for students wishing to study at educational institutions in the UAE. It is available to those over 18 for one year and is renewable annually as long as the student maintains student status. A prerequisite for its issuance is confirmation of admission from an accredited university or college.

The visa application can be submitted by the student, his parents or the educational institution as a sponsor. Students with high academic achievement may be eligible for a five-year student visa. This rule applies to high school graduates whose grades are 95% or higher and post-secondary students with a GPA of at least 3.75.

Retirement visa: a special program for foreigners over 55 years of age, offering the possibility of permanent residence in the country after retirement. To obtain it, you must meet certain financial requirements:

  • Purchase real estate in the UAE for a minimum of 2 million dirhams.
  • I own a savings account with a deposit of at least 1 million dirhams for three years.
  • You are receiving a stable monthly income of at least 15 thousand dirhams.
  • Or you have a combination of annual income and savings of AED 1 million and owning a property worth at least AED 500,000.

This visa is valid for five years, with the possibility of subsequent extension if the established program requirements are met. Holders of such a visa and their spouses and dependents are also eligible for employment in the UAE.

Visa for remote work: intended for foreign specialists in the field of design, IT, education and media for freelance work in the country and provided for up to one year with the possibility of subsequent extension.

For those already employed in the UAE, consent from the current employer (No Objection Certificate) is necessary to confirm the absence of objections to freelancing activities. Depending on the field of activity, you may be required to provide a portfolio and documents proving your qualifications. The holder of such a visa can also sponsor visas for his family members.

In 2024, the UAE introduced significant changes to its visa system, simplifying requirements and expanding benefits for certain visa categories. These changes reflect the UAE's commitment to becoming an even more attractive destination for international investors, professionals and tourists. Whether you need a visa for tourism, business, work or family reunion, the team at Antwort Law is ready to provide you with everything you need for a successful move to the UAE.

Lidia Ivanova

International lawyer
Antwort Law

How to get a work visa in the UAE?
A work visa can be obtained subject to an invitation to work from a company registered in the UAE. The employer is required by law to pay for a work visa for an employee himself.
How to get an investor visa in the UAE?
Two ways to obtain a Golden Visa, valid for a period of 5 to 10 years: 1) Invest a minimum of AED 2 million in an accredited investment fund in the UAE or hold a commercial or industrial license with a capital of at least AED 2 million. It is also necessary to provide a letter from the Federal Tax Administration confirming that the investor pays at least Dh250,000 to the government annually. 2) Own one or more real estate properties with a total value of at least 2 million dirhams. The purchase of real estate can be financed through certain local banks approved by the competent local authorities.
Is personal presence required to obtain a resident visa in the UAE?
Although the official portal of the UAE government does not indicate the requirement of mandatory presence in the country for obtaining a resident visa, the application process for a resident visa includes steps that require personal presence, such as medical examination and biometrics submission.
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