Virginia, US

Nov 28 2018

New Conditions Announced for Some Long-Term Residence Permits

United Arab Emirates

The situation

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced new conditions for the issuance of long-term residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, specialists, owners of leading internationally-recognized companies, foreign nationals with exceptional talents and outstanding students.

A closer look

The new categories and specific conditions for each category are as follows:

  • Five-year residence permits. A five-year residence permit will be available to the following categories of foreign nationals:
    • Investors in the UAE real estate market, provided that the value of a property is not less than AED 5 million;
    • Entrepreneurs with a project approval from an accredited business incubator in the United Arab Emirates;
    • Entrepreneurs who had a previous project in the UAE worth a minimum of AED 500,000;
    • Exceptional students with a grade of at least 95% in public and private secondary schools and those with a grade point average of at least 3.75 after graduating from a university (in the United Arab Emirates or overseas);
    • Spouses and children of the above-listed investors and entrepreneurs as well as family members of exceptional students; and
    • Joint business partners and up to three executive directors of the qualifying entrepreneurs listed above.

  • Ten-year residence permits.  A ten-year residence permit will be available to the following categories of foreign nationals:
    • Investors in public investment projects or those investing through an established company or a business partnership, with a minimum investment value of AED 10 million (which cannot come through loans), provided that the investment in real estate assets does not exceed 40% of the total investment;
    • Scientists, doctors, specialists and owners of leading internationally-recognized companies;
    • Foreign nationals with exceptional talents and researchers in the field of science and knowledge;
    • Foreign nationals with exceptional talents in the field of culture and art;
    • Spouses and children of the above listed categories; and
    • Joint business partners (under specific conditions), one executive director and one advisor of qualifying investors as well as entrepreneurs with five-year residence visas, subject to meeting certain visa conditions.

  • Additional conditions for select categories. In order to qualify for the long-term residence permit, foreign nationals, including scientists and doctors, will have to meet additional requirements, specific to each category of an applicant, including the following: 
    • Holding a PhD from one of the top 500 universities in the world;
    • Having an exceptional talent documented by patents or scientific research published in world-class journals;
    • Membership in an organization that requires exceptional skills to accept the membership;
    • Accreditation by the Emirates Scientists Council; or
    • Specialization in a field that the UAE government considers an area of priority.


Eligible foreign nationals will benefit from longer visa validity that will potentially reduce the procedural burden on UAE visa applicants. Long-term visas are expected to attract talented foreign nationals to the United Arab Emirates.


Some of these initial conditions were announced in May, but the new announcement increases the number of categories eligible for long-term residence permits and provides additional details on eligibility criteria. The creation of the long-term residence permit system is meant to create an attractive business environment for foreign nationals.

Similar trends in other countries

Other countries also offer advantages to foreign nationals in specialized fields. For example, in the United Kingdom, doctors and other medical workers were recently removed from the foreign worker quota and a start-up visa route for entrepreneurs will provide a faster entry process for qualifying entrepreneurs. Also, in Thailand, the SMART Visa program offers qualified executives, investors and startup entrepreneurs greater benefits as compared to the Long-Term Visa.

Looking ahead

The Cabinet is expected to announce additional details of the new law, including the implementation date, in the coming weeks. Fragomen will provide updates as soon as they are available.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].