UAE Visas

On Sunday, May 20th, 2018, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairing the UAE’s Cabinet meeting announced the latest decision related to the visa laws: 10 years residency visa for entrepreneurs, investors, specialists in medical, science, research and technical fields, 100% foreign ownership for the onshore UAE companies, 5 years residency visas for students enrolled in the UAE’s universities and the 10 years visa for
exceptional students.

Both legal and business community hailed the UAE’s cabinet decision, which was anticipated since last year’s Ministry of Economy’s announcement. Once the decision becomes law, it is likely that the Federal Law no.2 of 2015 which makes direct reference to the provisions surrounding the formation and the management of the onshore companies will be modified.

Similar to the US EB-1 Visa, UAE’s aim is the recognition of the individuals who are able to demonstrate their extraordinary abilities in particular fields: academic, science or business.

The relaxing of the foreign investment restrictions is meant to attract a higher number of foreign investors willing to call the Emirates, their new home.

The current system allows the investors to hold 100% of a company (FZE) in one of the many free trade zones, but such company is limited at doing business inside the free zone and not in the Emirates per se. Should the investor want to establish a UAE based company, it will need to enter in a partnership with a UAE National, the latter holding a 51% percent of the shares. With the new legislation, the silent partner’s requirement is being eliminated, but we believe there will be certain restrictions in regards to which activities may be carried out under the new legal

The present laws allow the foreign investors and their immediate families to apply for a 3-year visa, which is conditioned by the renewal of the trade license. Having a 10 years visa, is a major turning point as it will draw more foreigners, allowing them to contribute to UAE’s long-term vision.

The student visas are usually issued for the length of the academic year, however under the proposed legislation, the student visas are to be awarded for 5 years, and respectively 10 years for exceptional students. This decision will allow the graduates to pursue a future career in the UAE, therefore, contributing to country’s constant growth.

The proposed scheme is believed to affect the current investors, professionals and their families falling under the outlined categories (investors, students, scientists, doctors, engineers, etc.), allowing them to scrap any uncertainties and set roots in the Emirates.

Since the Cabinet’s decision is to be implemented by the end of 2018, we may see more clarity along the way.


Author: Eduard P. Nedelcu, Esq, Al Safar & Partners, UAE

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