New UAE long-stay visas fall flat due to excessive financial requirements

Published:  26 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, UAE, Jobs, Euro
As details emerge about the UAE’s long-term expat visa scheme, it seems only the very wealthy will benefit.

Foreign residents in the UAE hoping to be included in the UAE’s much-vaunted long-term visa scheme are likely to be disappointed as the five and 10-year residency permits are to be limited to wealthy investors, entrepreneurs, researchers and those with specified talents. Expatriates comprise 90 per cent of the UAE’s total population, with the scheme originally intended to give expats in general a stake in the country’s growing economy. T

he long-awaited programme in its present form will fall well short of many expats’ expectations, especially those who’ve committed themselves and their skills to the region for a good number of years but aren’t included in the eligibility listing for permanent residency. For a five year visa, the minimum financial requirement is 5 million dirhams - $1.4 million – with those applying for a 10-year visa expected to produce twice that amount. When initially announced, the new policy was expected to bring in a large number of expats who’d already worked in the UAE for a considerable time, with the few who will qualify for the stringent financial requirements unlikely to have any effect on the emirate’s economy.

One expat research facility is hoping the scheme will be extended to bring in more expatriates from the wider foreign population, but believes additional reforms would be needed to make massive liberalisation a practical option as the residency structure is based on jobs. The scheme itself is intended to wean the UAE off its reliance on oil revenues towards a more diversified economic strategy, and is being mooted across the Gulf States as a whole. The UAE has also announced plans to allow full foreign ownership of businesses and has cancelled the billions of dollars in fees private companies are forced to pay in order to hire expat workers. The new long-stay visas do little if anything to encourage expatriate professionals to arrive, stay longer and spend all their salaries rather than remitting them back to their home countries.
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