The favorable business conditions in one of the world’s fastest growing economies enabled by decades-long market friendly government policies, have positioned Dubai as the business, financial and commercial hub of the region.
Preferred by tourists, entrepreneurs, and investors alike, Dubai is a diverse, multicultural, and exciting haven for outstanding business opportunities while maintaining a rewarding lifestyle.
Dubai encourages and fosters foreign investment by tailoring a unique investment-driven visa program to legally reside in the UAE, allowing investors to build a secure future for their families as well as their businesses.
The Dubai Investor Visa
The Dubai Investor Visa, also called the Dubai Partner visa, is applicable to foreign nationals who want to start their own business or invest in an existing business in Dubai.
The Dubai investor visa grants the holder the right to reside in the UAE, and to come and go as they wish for the duration of the visa. A holder of the Dubai Investor Visa becomes a tax domicile of the UAE and is not taxable by the country of their nationality, however this is subject to the investor’s home country regulations.
A holder of a Dubai Investor Visa is eligible to apply for the Emirates ID card, open a bank account, acquire a UAE driving license, sign up for Etisalat or Du mobile and home packages, and many other essential services.
The Dubai Investor Visa also grants its holder the permission to sponsor their spouse, children, and parents to enter the UAE.
The Dubai Investor Visa is obtainable under four different categories:
1. Visa by Investment in Residential Property
Applicable to individuals who opt to invest in residential property that is worth AED 1 million or above, with a maximum of 50% of the property value is under mortgage. Investors in a jointly owned property are eligible to apply if each individual’s share is worth at least AED 1 million.
The investment must be in a single residential property and not in commercial properties. Additionally, the visa is applicable to freehold residential properties only, it is not possible to apply for this visa with an off-plan property.
The visa length varies between three to five years and can be maintained for as long as the investor owns property in the country.
The three-year visa is available to individuals who have purchased a property of AED 1 million or more, while the five-year visa requires ownership of property worth at least AED 5 million.
2. Visa by Investment in a Company
Applicable to individuals who chose to invest in or start a business in Dubai’s mainland or Dubai’s various free zones. Currently, the Dubai Economy offers more than 2,100 types of business licenses to start a business in the mainland.
Starting a business in Dubai’s mainland generally requires a partner of UAE nationality, who will be a majority shareholder, or an agent who will be responsible to liaise with Government departments.
Recent changes in regulations have allowed, for the first time in the country’s history, a complete foreign ownership of companies in Dubai’s mainland, by annulling the requirement for commercial companies to have a majority Emirati shareholder or agent.
Allowing full foreign ownership of onshore companies in certain commercial activities remains in accordance with the policies set by the UAE Cabinet.
This visa is granted to investors who own shares in an existing company worth at least AED 72,000, or are establishing a company with a capital investment worth the same amount. For foreign investors, starting a business in one of Dubai’s free zones, does not require local sponsors or partners, companies are exempt from taxation, and foreign nationals could have full ownership of the company. The visa application process may differ depending on many variables such as the free zone where the company is located and the nature of the business.
3. Long-Term Residence Visa
Under this recently launched visa, investors who meet specific criteria are eligible for a 5 or 10-year residency, depending on the size of their investment in the country. The investor’s spouse, children, one manager and one advisor are also eligible to apply.
The 10-year long residency visa is applicable to investors of at least AED 10 million, either through a deposit in an investment fund inside the country or establishing a company in the UAE with a capital of at least AED 10 million, or partnering in an existing or a new company with a share value of not less than AED10 million, or having a total investment of AED 10 million in all areas mentioned.
The 5-year visa is eligible to investors in a property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million, or entrepreneurs with an existing project of a minimum capital of AED 500,000, subject to additional jurisdictions.
The long-term visa is only issued to those who meet an additional set of standards set by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs-Dubai. For example, this system grants long-term residencies for selected individuals with specialized talents such as scientists and innovators in medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
4. Retirement Visa
This visa category was specially crafted for investors above the age of 55 who wish to retire under Dubai’s beautiful sunshine. This 5-year long visa is applicable for individuals who invest in a property worth AED 2 million, or own accumulated savings worth of AED 1 million, or have an active monthly income of at least AED 20,000.
The Dubai investor visa application and process largely differs from one applicant to the other.