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Who Is Eligible And How To Apply For The UAE's 10-year Golden Residency Visa

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Thousands of residents have been receiving their long-term residency visas, but how can you get one?
The golden card is a long-term residency programme announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in May 2019. Not long after its launch, more than 400 investors and businessmen, including some of their families, had already been granted the visa, with dozens more receiving it each day.
Sheikh Mohammed said 6,800 investors and residents, worth an estimated Dh100 billion, and from 70 countries, were chosen to receive the visa.
In November 2020, Sheikh Mohammed set out a major expansion of the scheme. It will allow all doctors and PhD holders to secure a 10-year golden visa. Some scientists, big data and artificial intelligence experts will also be eligible, as will top-scoring school pupils and their families, and university graduates with a GPA of 3.8.
Why was the programme implemented?
The idea is to create an attractive investment environment in the UAE, which further encourages business development and draws in new talent.
Long-term residents who have contributed to the country’s development are also being rewarded for their loyalty and encouraged to continue investing in the UAE.
The golden card was initially billed as a permanent residence system but the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has since clarified that it is in fact a long-term 10-year visa that renews.
Is there such a thing as a permanent residency visa in the UAE?
Typically, the UAE does not grant permanent residency visas to expatriates but the golden card is a renewable 10-year visa, so the end result is the same: permanent residency in the UAE.
In June 2019, Maj Gen Mohammad Al Marri, Director General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, said the visas would be renewed in 10-year increments.
"After 10 years, [the visas] are continuous for another 10-year period every 10 years. There are medical insurance and other procedures that need to be done in between but it comes without any extra conditions," he said.
He said the visa would be renewed so long as residents continued to satisfy the terms and conditions under which they were granted the visa.
But if investors decreased in worth or their business failed within those 10 years, "things would be looked at on a case-to-case basis", Maj Gen Al Marri said.
Golden cardholders can travel freely as there is no minimum requirement for staying in the UAE – for example, if the golden card carrier leaves the UAE for longer than six months, their visa would still be valid.
Who is eligible for the golden card?
In May 2019, the UAE Cabinet approved 10-year residency visas for five categories of expatriates: investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists and outstanding students.
Maj Gen Al Marri said there was no age restriction on applicants.
"Here in the UAE we never look at age, colour, nationality or any other social circumstances, we are dealing with people as humans and not nationalities, we are all equal with no differentiation," he said at the time.
It was announced that executives with a salary of Dh30,000 or more can apply for the visa too. The applicant should have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and five years of work experience. They must also have a valid employment contract.