The United Arab Emirates is a federation comprising seven emirates, including Dubai. The emirate is the hub of commerce and finance in UAE and hosts some of the world’s unique architectural marvels. Dubai is an emirate committed to its vision of the future, all while deeply rooted in its tradition and culture.
The emirate has developed and progressed by leaps and bounds over five decades and hosts one of the world’s largest expatriate communities. Their commitment to achieving and ensuring the highest quality for their people makes Dubai and UAE a preferred destination.
If you’re planning a life in Dubai, you must know the different visa types required to live in the emirate. The visa structure in UAE is officially categorized into residence visas which also include golden visas, entry permits, and visit visas.
Types Of Residence Visas
A residence visa allows the holder of the visa to reside and also work in UAE. Residence visas are further categorized according to their applicability and eligibility.
1. Residence visa to work in UAE
Suppose you are interested in working in UAE. In that case, there are three kinds of visas you can apply for: the standard visa, the green visa, and the golden visa.
The first is the standard visa issued to any individual employed by a government or private sector employer in the UAE. This is for two years; the employer applies for this visa and sponsors the individual. The second is the green visa which is for five years. Skilled employees, freelancers, self-employed persons, investors, and partners are eligible for this visa.
This is a 5-year visa for which the categories above persons do not require any sponsor or employer. However, they need to meet the employment, classification, and salary criteria laid down by the government.
The golden visa is one of the latest visas introduced by the UAE government to promote holistic development. It is a 10-year visa granted to investors, entrepreneurs, outstanding students, humanitarians, scientists, professionals, persons with exceptional skills and talent, and persons with impressive global contributions. Holders of this visa can sponsor their spouse, children, and persons employed in support services, such as domestic workers.
The benefits of the golden visa and the eligibility criteria for its application vary between the category of individuals mentioned above.
Apart from the above three, the domestic worker’s visa is also available and is included within the above categories. While availing of visas for domestic workers, the employer must strictly adhere to federal law and ensure their protection, decent living, and remuneration.
2. Residence visas for working outside the UAE – Virtual work residence visa
This visa allows foreigners to live in UAE if employed remotely or virtually by an employer in UAE. The visa lasts one year, allowing the holder to enter the country on self-sponsorship the eligibility and conditions of the visa need to be strictly met to avail of the same.
3. Residence visa for retired persons
Persons who have worked in or outside the UAE for more than 15 years or are 55 years of age can apply for a retired visa of a five-year duration. Eligible candidates also have to meet other conditions specified for eligibility.
4. Residence visa for doing business in UAE
This green visa is explicitly issued to investors who intend to invest in UAE and continue their business there. The visa is a self-sponsorship visa of a five-year duration which is given to investors and partners meeting the eligibility criteria.
5. Student visa
A residence visa is issued to students studying in UAE. They may be a resident or under sponsorship from their parent(s) or the university.
The visa is issued for one year and may be renewed during studies. Students with demonstrated excellence in their field of studies who have been classified as outstanding students can apply for a golden visa. Under the student visa, the UAE government also permits family members to reside with the students as long as appropriate housing is available.
6. Visa for family members
Expatriates working and living in the UAE can also sponsor their family members, such as spouses, children, and parents. The sponsors should meet the salary, accommodation, age, and relationship criteria specified by the government.
Short-term permits allow foreigners to enter UAE to finalize their visa requirements. Entry permits may also be issued for other short-term purposes, such as medical treatment, mission, tourism, transit, visiting family, etc.
These interim permits are also called visit visas, tourist visas, or transit visas. The validity period may be from two days to five years, depending on the nature and purpose of the visit.
Dubai is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is a significant contributor to the country’s economy, and every development in the emirate is also centered around improving the same. A tourist visa to Dubai is very popular and can be availed easily without many hassles. Women below 18 years cannot apply for this visit visa.
Tourist visas can be processed by a relative, travel agent, or airline. You can obtain transit visas or visas on arrival, depending on your passport.
The government has introduced a five-year multi-entry tourist visa that does not require sponsorship to promote tourism. It allows the tourist to reside in the country for 90 days. This is in addition to the regular one-entry visa.
Dubai is a lifestyle destination. It boasts a quality lifestyle with the best amenities and facilities. This makes UAE a preferred retirement destination for many.
The residence visa for retired persons in UAE has been introduced to promote the quality of life and experience promised by the country. This is a long-term visa of five years that can be availed by persons above the age of 55 years. The eligibility criteria also require the candidate to fulfill specific financial prerequisites.
Benefits Of A Retired Visa
- It is a multi-entry visa that allows the holder to enter and exit the country freely whenever they want
- It is a long-term visa that is issued for five years. Hence there is no need for frequent renewal.
- Retirees can start a new chapter in their lives and enjoy the benefits of living in the UAE
- Access to general standard services such as telecommunications, residence, and other utilities
- A cosmopolitan country with a diverse culture that considers humanity and tolerance as the cornerstone of their governance structure
- Living the best life with the best amenities and unique attractions
- Quality health care with the best health insurance policies available
- Every day in Dubai is packed with adventure and the zeal for life
Eligibility Criteria For Retirement Visa
- The age of the retiree must be 55 years or above
- Worked in or outside UAE for 15 years or more
- Own property worth AED one million or more
- Possess financial savings of AED one million or more; or
- Monthly income of AED 15,000 or more
- Bank statements of six months preceding the date of application
The eligibility mentioned above is applicable throughout UAE with a change in the financial criteria. Besides fulfilling the age criteria, Dubai offers retirees the following eligibility options.
- Income option – Yearly income of a minimum of AED 180,000 or a monthly income of a minimum of AED 15,000
- Savings option – Three-year fixed deposit of a minimum of AED one million
- Property option – Property worth a minimum of AED one million4. Combination option – Combining the first two options would be valued at AED one million. This is to be deposited as a Fixed deposit for three years. The worth of each is AED 500,000.
How To Apply For A Retirement Visa?
- Step 1 – Ensure your eligibility – After going through the eligibility criteria in detail, make sure that you meet the standards required by the UAE government
- Step 2 – Choose the financing option best suited to you – Once you comply with the age criteria, you can choose any of the four fiscal options mentioned above
- Step 3 – Prepare all necessary documents – The documents required for the application can be bifurcated into general and specific documents. General documents are the primary documents that are required to process the application. These are passport copies of applicants and dependants, marriage certificate copies in case of sponsorship, current UAE visa copies if you are already a resident, and copies of Emirates ID if you are already a resident.
- Step 4 – Prepare the specific documents depending on your fiscal options – Besides the general documents, applicants must prepare particular documents depending on their chosen financial option.
The applicant must possess proof of income and a six-month bank statement in the income option. Proof of income must include the beneficiary’s name and the commencement date.
This may be a letter detailing the source of income from a relevant entity, a letter from the previous employer if the applicant is collecting a pension, or any supporting documents that show sustainable income.
Where the applicant relies on pension schemes, social services, or other means of sustainable income, the authorizing entity will require a minimum deposit of AED 15,000 monthly or AED 180,000 yearly from the source of income.
The same should be in a Dubai-based bank, and the applicant must possess verified bank statements of the last six months.
In the savings option, the applicant needs to have proof of retirement and proof of savings. Proof of retirement may be an end-of-service letter that specifies the applicant as a retiree and shows the number of years of service.
The last employer should issue it. It can also be a letter from social services or any similar authority.
Proof of savings is a stamped letter in Arabic from a UAE-based bank. The applicant must possess the requisite savings as a fixed deposit for three years. The bank must issue a letter to the authorizing entity assuring the security of the funds.
If the applicant avails of the property option, they should possess a copy of the title deed. The fully paid unmortgaged property of a minimum value of AED one million must be located explicitly in Dubai. The ownership must lie in the name of the applicant or a company owned wholly by the applicant. In the case of shared ownership, the applicant’s share must amount to a minimum of AED one million.
If mortgaged, the mortgage payment to date must amount to a minimum of AED one million. Applicants can use multiple properties, provided their combined value is a minimum of AED one million.
If the applicant decides to opt for a hybrid option, a mix of savings and property, they require copies of the title deed and proof of savings. The property worth a minimum value of AED 500,000 should be located in Dubai and issued by DLD.
The ownership must lie in the name of the applicant or a company owned wholly by the applicant. In the case of shared ownership, the applicant’s share must amount to a minimum of AED 500,000. Multiple properties may be used, provided their combined value is a minimum of AED 500,000.
In property options, the applicants must ensure the property is not off-plan.
Regarding the savings option in the hybrid plan, the applicant must possess proof of savings as a stamped letter in Arabic from a UAE-based bank.
The applicant must have the requisite savings (AED 500,000) as a fixed deposit for three years. The bank must issue a letter to the authorizing entity assuring the security of the funds.
- Step 5 – Choose your visa pathway – Your fiscal options determine your visa route. Based on the same, your application is forwarded to the authorizing entities. In the case of the savings pathway, the authorizing entity is the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs. The Dubai Land Department will be the authorized entity for the property applications.
- Step 6 – Submit application – Applicants must apply to the authorizing entity depending on the type of application. GDRFA applications can be submitted digitally, whereas DLD requires manual application by presenting it in their office.
- Step 7 – Visa cost – AED 3,714.75 will be paid per applicant once the authorizing entity approves the applications. This amount will be used to cover the cost of all incidentals such as entry permits, residency stamping, emirates ID, medical examination, and such.
- Step 8 – Timely updates – Once the application is submitted and the requisite application fee is paid, the authorizing entity will update you on the status of your application.
- Step 9 – Health insurance – Applicants may proceed without a health insurance plan. Once the visa is approved, applicants must undergo a medical check-up. Applicants who do not have an existing health plan can take one after the medical check-up.
Once the application is submitted, it takes up to 15 working days to approve the visa.
Medical Requirements For A Retirement Visa
After visa approval, every applicant must undergo a medical check-up. If the applicant has existing international insurance, a letter from the previous employer indicating the continuation of the insurance and extension of its coverage to UAE is sufficient. If not, the applicant can take appropriate insurance that suits their needs. Taking insurance from local insurance providers for hassle-free procedures and reimbursement is better.
Some insurance providers give special packages to retirees. Applicants can look into this before choosing the plan best suited for them.
Residency Procedures For A Retirement Visa In Dubai
The retirement visa in Dubai is part of the golden visa scheme. The residency procedures will be based on the fiscal option chosen during the application process.
This will determine which is the authorizing entity. Suppose the authorizing authority is the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs. In that case, the procedures can be completed digitally through their website.
- Step 1 – Go to the GDRFA website and choose the services option
- Step 2 – Select Residency Services from the menu
- Step 3 – Choose a Residency visa, and in that, choose a Golden visa (Retired foreigners)
- Step 4 – Start the application process by creating the user account
Applicants can also use the GDRFA – Dubai Smart Application, a round-the-clock service portal. It functions on both Apple and Android phones. Once the account is created, the applicant can select the required service, attach the documents, pay the fees and submit the request. Applicants may also manually complete this process by visiting the Amer Centre service branches.
Applicants will receive a text and an email regarding the application status. Once the application is received, it is vetted thoroughly, and any missing documents will be informed within 30 days. Once such intimation is given the documents have to be attached as early as possible, failing which the application will be canceled. If the applications are approved, such approval shall be communicated through email.
Once the visa is approved and the residency permit is received, the authorizing entity will process the Emirates ID. This can be done online or by visiting accredited centers. The Emirates ID is a mandatory government-issued ID card that can be used to get government services, vote, use as a travel pass, and pass through immigration gates.
Renewing Retirement Visa In Dubai
The retirement visa is issued for five years. It can be renewed, provided the retiree meets the eligibility requirements mentioned above. Renewal can be done via the GDRFA site, mobile app, or accredited center.
In conclusion, the retirement visa is an excellent initiative by the UAE government to provide nationals and expatriates interested in settling in UAE to do so.
The procedures are straightforward and simple. The applicant must fulfill the age and financial prerequisites before application. The process takes 15 – 30 working days, and frequent updates will be provided by the authorizing entity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any person who has completed the age of 55 and has the necessary financial prerequisite can apply for a retirement visa. They may be Emiratis or expatriates.
Most standard visas are issued for one-time entry. This means that the individual has to fulfill a certain period of stay before entering and exiting the country. In a multi-entry system, this is not required. The individual may enter and exit the country when they prefer.
Suppose the applicant decides to pursue the property or hybrid route. In that case, they can only choose the properties they exercise sole title and ownership.
No. The properties may be residential, commercial, vacant plots, or any other.
Yes. A person holding a retirement visa may sponsor their spouse, children, or parents. There is no age limitation to the same.