What is the change? The United Arab Emirates Cabinet has approved new immigration incentives aimed at attracting foreign investors, top international specialists and high-performing students.

What does the change mean? Under the program, the UAE will provide 10-year residency visas to qualifying investors and specialists, a group that could include doctors, engineers, scientific and technical researchers and entrepreneurs, among others. The UAE will also provide five-year residency visas to students and 10-year visas to high-performing (“grade ‘A’”) students. Officials will also review the possibility of providing residency permits to principal visa holders’ children who graduate from a university while in the UAE.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum directed the appropriate government agencies to implement the new immigration program by the end of 2018, according to a statement from the Dubai Media Office.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residency permits for foreign investors, top international specialists and high-performing students.
  • Who is affected: Foreign investors, specialists and students interested in working or studying in the UAE.
  • 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: The 10-year visa program has been discussed for some time, and the Cabinet voted to move forward with the plan on Sunday. “The UAE will remain an incubator for creators and destinations for investors,” Sheikh Maktoum said, announcing the Cabinet’s approval. Details must still be finalized, including the eligibility criteria and application process for the 10-year visas.

BAL Analysis: Visas in the UAE are normally issued with validities of one to three years. The change is intended to boost the economy by attracting more foreign investors, specialists and students interested in working or studying in the UAE, by giving them more stability in their immigration status with 10-year validity.  BAL will continue following the implementation of the plan and will provide updates to clients as more information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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