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| Nofisatu Mojidi

Property-based residency in the UAE: A synoptic guide for expats

Whether you are an investor looking to purchase real estate based on where you want to live, educate your children, grow your business or simply spend your leisure time, this blog is designed to help property owners navigate potential pitfalls in obtaining a UAE Residence Permit or Visa. Interestingly, Dubai remains one of the top five destinations attracting investment from all over the world and has a continuously rising local and expatriate population. While investment in property remains one of the key contributors to the non-oil GDP in the UAE, there are many hurdles to overcome in the country’s immigration and property environment. With that in mind, Nofi Mojidi, Relationship Manager for Fragomen’s Worldwide Private Client Practice, explains how to successfully acquire Residency linked to property ownership.

What is the difference between the Residence Permit vs. the Residence Visa for Property Owners?

The residence permit and visa for property owner’s grants temporary residency to qualified investors and their dependents on the basis of property ownership. The principal difference between the two is that the residence permit for property owners is renewable every 2 years for properties purchased in Dubai, while the multi-entry residence visa for property owners is renewable every 6 months and valid for properties purchased in any Emirate.

Mandatory Minimum Investment Threshold

To be eligible for either the Residence permit or visa, properties must be valued in excess of AED 1 million. Mortgages are allowable for the Residence permit, however, if the property is mortgaged, a minimum 50% of its original price must be paid off or  AED 1 million must be paid off if the properties value is more than AED 2 million to qualify for the permit.

Investment Criteria

The investment property must be in a freehold area and entirely owned by the investor with the title deed issued in the name of the applicant. Additionally, the property must be ready for the investor to move in and its size must be proportionate to the number of family members occupying it (if applicable). If the property is owned by more than one investor, the shared value must be more than AED 1 million, or, if the spouse acts as a co-investor, a legalized marriage certificate has to be provided . Verification of the investment requirement is undertaken at the Dubai Land Department for the residence permit and the relevant Immigration authority for the residence visa. Furthermore, there is a minimum monthly income requirement of AED 10,000 or equivalent in a foreign currency. The investor’s income source may be derived from inside or outside of the UAE.

What should Property Investors be mindful of?

Important factors to take into account include the following:

  • Spouse and dependants are subject to fulfilling the dependents’ sponsorship criteria.
  • Sponsorship of domestic workers is allowable under the residence permit however under the residence visa; sponsorship of domestic workers is subject to the approval from the relevant immigration authority.
  • In-country medical examination is required for investors applying for the residence permit.
  • Neither the residence permit nor the residence visa status leads to citizenship.
  • Holders of the residence permit or the residence visa may not be gainfully employed in the UAE.
  • There is no maximum period of stay for both the residence permit and the residence visa. However, residence permit holders should not stay outside of the UAE for more than 6 consecutive months.
  • An investor’s license is issued by the Department of Economic Development for every successful residence permit. The license is valid for 4 years and renewable thereafter.
  • Various documents are required to obtain either the residence permit or visa. These may include police clearance certificates, title deeds, legalized marriage certificates, and attested bank statements.  Both the Dubai Land Department and the relevant immigration authority reserve the right to request additional documentation at any stage in the application process.
     

If you would like to learn more about the UAE Residence Permit or Visa you can reach me on nmojidi@fragomen.com or at +971 55 302 7466