The United Arab Emirates continues to be one of the most attractive countries for expats who want to work and open a business abroad.
The country is safe and has a stable economy. Because of this, the UAE can provide expats with exciting employment and business opportunities.
Staying Legally in the UAE
If you are interested to work or open a business in the UAE, one of the first things you have to do is to get a visa that will allow you to enter the country.
For people who wish to work in the UAE, you need to have a work visa. However, if you want to start a business here, you have the option of applying for a UAE investor visa.
Once you are in the UAE and have found the conditions here to your liking, you may start thinking about the probability of prolonging your stay or even living here permanently. There are options for doing this.
To help you get a good start on your plans, here are five facts you need to know about the gaining citizenship or residency in the UAE:
Working expats can extend their stay by getting a residence visa.
If you are working in the UAE, a residence visa is the “longest” type of visa you will be given. The validity for this visa is two to three years.
To get this visa, your employer or sponsor will have to apply and arrange this for you. It is also renewable as long as you have a sponsor and continue to work in the UAE.
Entrepreneurs can obtain an investor visa.
If you already own a business in the UAE or plan to do so, you can be a resident of this country without having to buy property with an investor visa.
This type of visa offers the following benefits:
- For new business owners, fast business setup and access to a number of specialised benefits with respect to their business activity.
- It allows entrepreneurs 100% ownership of the business, tax exemption, and repatriation of capital funds and profits.
- Easy family sponsorship facilities and nanny visas for the family.
Two investor visas are allowed for Dubai mainland companies only. If there are more than two shareholders in the Dubai mainland company, in order to be eligible for an investor visa, the partner should hold more than AED 70,000 share capital in the company.
There are two main types of investor visas: free zone investor and mainland LLC investor visa.
Both call for the same share capital requirements and have a validity of three years. However, the mainland LLC investor visa will be approved depending on the submitted memorandum of agreement (MoA), LLC agreement, and partners list certificate issued or guaranteed by the relevant local government departments.
A newly-approved law also grants entrepreneurs who own 100% of their company a 10-year residence visa.
Expats can also obtain a residence visa by buying real estate property.
You can also obtain a two-year residence visa by investing in residential property in the UAE worth over one million AED. However, you can mortgage this property.
To get this visa, you will need to get the following:
- Approval from the Dubai Land Department
- NOC from the Dubai Police Department
- Taskeen application
- Title deed from the Estate Registration Department
After getting an investor licence, you can apply for your residence visa at the Immigration Department.
Aside from gaining residency, you will also get an Emirates ID and family sponsorship when you have this visa.
Expats can obtain citizenship through marriage.
In the UAE, a foreigner who marries an Emirati can get citizenship if the marriage lasts for at least three years. The foreigner will be naturalised as a UAE citizen after 10 years of living in the country instead of the 30-year wait for the usual naturalisation process.
However, if the marriage ended in divorce and the expat marries someone from outside the UAE, the citizenship will be void.
Few foreigners can become Emirati citizens.
Lastly, unless you marry an Emirati national and meet all the requirements above or you discovered that you were born in the UAE and have one or two Emirati parents, gaining citizenship in this country will be long and difficult.
To be an Emirati citizen, you have to fulfil all residence requirements for naturalisation. The residence requirement also has a lengthy wait of up to 30 years before your application will be accepted.
In addition, you have to meet several basic requirements to be eligible, such as fluency in the Arabic language and proof of good character.
There may be variations on the processes adopted depending on which emirate you are. Your options will also be affected by a number of factors such as your business or line of work, and your employer or sponsor.
In any case, you can always consult immigration and business consultants in Dubai to know your options and to get professional advice with choosing the best route for you.
If you want to know more about the different types of visas you are eligible for or to set up a business in the UAE, get in touch with us through our Contact page.