New UAE visa regulations and what they mean for expats

By Robert Half 5th September 2019

There has never been a better time for expats to consider working in the UAE. New UAE visa regulations mean that moving to Abu Dhabi or Dubai offers a plethora of new opportunities for living and working than ever before.

As of February 2019, the UAE has officially introduced the 10-year residency visa. This new government initiative, along with several others, is part of a new push to attract and retain skilled professionals to the UAE. 

Huge investments in tourism, finance and construction industries have led to good economic growth for the region and created an undercurrent of optimism for business leaders. Dubai Expo 2020 and the thriving startup culture have also helped to drive growth further, fuelling fierce demand for skilled talent.

Our research shows that demand is still high for skilled expatriates in the UAE region — it remains a hiring priority for UAE business leaders. This is especially true in the finance, accounting, legal and technology sectors. The new visa regulations offer an attractive lure for expat specialists within these sectors who may be thinking of moving to the UAE.

New UAE visa regulations for expats

•    100% foreign ownership 
Until July of 2019, foreign investors were only permitted to own 49% of a company registered in the UAE, but new government reforms now facilitate 100% ownership across 13 sectors in a bid to encourage more investment. 

This particular initiative has already proven successful, as shown by Uber’s recent acquisition of UAE competitor, Careem, and Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com. Professionals thinking of moving to the UAE may find they have more opportunities for internal relocation with their current employer.

•    Freehold ownership of land and properties
Abu Dhabi has introduced a new freehold law which allows foreign investors to buy property within designated investment zones, where previously, only UAE and GCC nationals could buy. A rule was amended in April of 2019 by royal decree to help entice large corporates to establish offices within the region. It could provide an additional influx of stable, long-term job opportunities for expats via current employers.

•    10-year residency UAE visa
A new 10-year residency UAE visa has been introduced to provide more long-term residency options for a selection of expatriates. The ‘golden card’ UAE visa application is open to investors, entrepreneurs, chief executives, scientists, and outstanding students. 

The introduction of the new UAE visa application means that expats can look forward to a more settled, long-term career in the region. Applicants must meet certain UAE visa requirements to gain the new card, which can be renewed on a rolling basis.

Considering your career prospects in the UAE?

If you’re thinking of moving to the UAE, you can find your UAE visa requirements by visiting the Emirates website and entering your information. 

To find a new opportunity in the UAE, browse our latest jobs, or upload your CV.

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