The United Arab Emirates government confirmed this week that it has approved a raft of changes to its visa and residency rules which will come into effect in September. Key new components include ending the need for arrivals to obtain sponsorship and allowing visitors to stay for 60 days rather than the 30 days currently. Parents will also be able to sponsor their male children until the age of 25, up from 18, allowing them to remain in the UAE after school and university. “The new system of entry and residence aims at attracting and retaining global talents and skilled workers from all over the world, boosting the competitiveness and flexibility of the job market and fostering a high sense of stability among UAE residents and families”, reads a statement from the government’s press office.
Major reforms are introduced to the Golden Residence Scheme to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries. “This long-term 10-year residence is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes.” The amendments allow the Golden Residence holder to sponsor his/ her family members, including spouse and children regardless of their age, and to sponsor support services (domestic) labourers without limiting their number. In addition, there is no cap on the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residence valid. There are other benefits for family members that allow them to stay in the UAE in the event of the death of the original holder of the Golden Residence until the end of their permit duration.
The UAE, and in particular the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, remains a major global hub for expatriates. The country is home to over 200 nationalities. Emiratis constitute roughly 20% of the total population, making UAE home to one of the world’s highest percentage of expatriates. As a major expat centre, there are many languages spoken, with English widely spoken among businesspeople and in expat and tourist areas, but the official language is Arabic. Most expats are attracted by the no income tax, the fabulous weather eight months a year, virtually no crime, high standards of education, career opportunities and world-class leisure facilities.