What is the change? The United Arab Emirates has launched a new Golden Card permanent residence program aimed at attracting foreign investors, top international specialists, researchers and high-performing students.

What does the change mean? The Golden Card plan builds on a program that was implemented last year to provide long-term visas to qualifying investors, specialists and students. The initial grants of permanent residency will likely be for business people and students who are already in the UAE and who will be given the opportunity to change their status and obtain a Golden Card.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The first Golden Cards were issued last month.
  • Visas/permits affected: Golden Cards (permanent residence).
  • Who is affected: Foreign investors, top international specialists, researchers and high-performing students interested in permanent residence.
  • Business impact: Officials hope the changes will provide new incentives and help cement the UAE’s reputation as a top destination for foreign investors and specialists.

Background: In May of last year, the UAE announced a program to provide five- and 10-year visas to leading investors, specialists and high-performing students. Officials have now taken another step and announced that many of these same people will be eligible for permanent residence in the UAE. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also recently announced new permanent residence programs.

Analysis & Comments: The Golden Card program will be the UAE’s first permanent residence program. The program follows a regional trend and is intended to boost the UAE’s economy by attracting more business and foreign investment to the country. About 6,800 residents will benefit from the scheme under the first round of applications.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.