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UAE residence permit: processing time and fees in 2022

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Burj-al-Arab
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$205,000

cost of residence permit for real estate purchase

from 3 years

validity period of residence permit for real estate purchase

90 days

visa-free entry for 53 nationalities

Passport holders of the USA, UK, Japan and other 17 countries are entitled to a 30-day visa-free stay in the UAE. Citizens of 53 countries, including France, Spain and Germany, may enter the UAE without a visa and remain there for up to 90 days. For a longer stay, you have to apply for a residence permit, which is called a resident visa in the Emirates.

This article provides a detailed guide to obtaining a residence permit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): conditions, requirements and necessary documents. It also includes information about obtaining the UAE citizenship for a foreigner.

Buying real estate in the UAE entitles you to a long-term resident visa, the equivalent of a residence permit. You need to buy one or several properties worth $205,000 or more. The residence permit is valid for 3 years or 5 years depending on the amount of investment and can be renewed without limitations of the total term.

Apartments for sale in the UAE 147 listings on Tranio

Visas to the UAE

For some nationalities, It is possible to enter the UAE without a visa.

Foreigners from 73 countries can get a free tourist visa for the UAE on arrival at the airport. The visa is issued either for 30 or 90 days after which it can be extended for a fee. 

To obtain a visa, you will need a passport valid for at least six months from the moment of your entry into the UAE and travel insurance.

To enter the UAE, you will have to provide either a vaccination certificate or a PCR test taken within 48 hours before travel.

Women of any age may enter the UAE unaccompanied by a man and without an exit permit from their parents. If you are travelling with a child who is listed on your passport both the child and the parents are obliged to arrange their visas in advance at the UAE Embassy. Obtaining a visa at the embassy will cost $80.

For further information about visas for foreigners, please visit the official website of Emirates Airlines.

UAE residence permit (resident visa)

Foreigners willing to relocate to the UAE must legalise themselves in the country. After the visa-free period, expats need to apply for a residency visa in order to extend their stay in the country.

There are no such concepts as 'residence permit' and 'permanent residence' in the UAE legislation.

Foreigners can obtain a residence visa, which is the equivalent of a residence permit in the UAE, that can be renewed repeatedly.

Marina Filichkina Marina Filichkina Head of Sales

Who is eligible to request a residence visa in the UAE:

  • owners of real estate in the UAE;
  • other investors in the country's economy;
  • owners of a business registered in the EAE; 
  • employees of local companies;
  • students of educational institutions in the country;
  • financially independent pensioners.

Residency in the UAE for purchasing real estate

Foreigners may qualify for a long-term residency visa (the local equivalent of a residence permit) if they buy a property worth at least $205,000. The investor has several options:

1. Residence permit with renewal after 3 years

For buying real estate worth 750,000 AED (or $205,000), an investor receives a residence permit for 3 years, which can be repeatedly extended. A foreigner can choose a residential property in any emirate, whether it’s a flat or a house.

In this case, the investor's family members: spouse, sons up to the age of 18 and daughters up to the age of 21 also, also receive the residence permits.

2. Residence permit with renewal after 5 years

A residence permit for 5 years is granted to the investor for buying real estate in Dubai worth at least 2 million AED (about $545,000). This residence permit can be extended an unlimited number of times, just like a three-year residence permit.

This type of residence permit is granted to the investor, spouse and children of any age.

To renew the residence permit, you must come to Dubai at least once a year if you have a five-year visa and twice with a three-year visa. There is no minimum length of stay. It can even be a transit through the country.

A foreign investor can get a residence permit for purchasing real estate worth at least $205,000 instead of $272,000. 

The threshold has been lowered temporarily to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s unclear whether it will be raised again.

Margarita Minasyan Margarita Minasyan Sales Manager in Dubai
Apartments for sale in the UAE 147 listings on Tranio

Residency for investment in the UAE

Residency in the UAE can also be obtained for other investments in the country's economy: for example, for a participation in an investment fund. Then the minimum investment threshold is $2.72 million. In this case, the investor receives a residence permit for 10 years.

It is also possible to establish a company in the UAE with the investor’s capital share of at least $2.72 million and, thus, obtain a residence permit for 10 years.

Dubai marina skyscrapers
Rasto SK / Shutterstock

Work Residence Permit in the UAE

In order to obtain a residence permit for employment (e.g. residence visa), you have to get a working contract in the UAE. The employer must agree to hire a foreign employee and request a visa for him or her. The employer is responsible for the arrangements and associated costs. The company must be registered in the UAE and run a business in the country. 

List of documents required to apply for residency in the UAE by employment:

  • an international passport;
  • a copy of international passport;
  • a translated higher education diploma or other diplomas confirming the qualification;
  • a medical certificate issued in the UAE.

The procedure for obtaining a work permit in the UAE goes as follows: first, a foreign employee receives a temporary document – an employment entry visa valid for 60 days. During this time, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs reviews the application for a residence permit for a new employee submitted by the employer.

Then, the applicant receives the Emirates ID.

A residence permit for employment is issued for a period of one to three years.

UAE Student Visa

This type of residence visa is available to foreigners who are enrolled in an Emirati Educational institution. The organisation must be accredited in the UAE because it is the institution that handles the students’ paperwork.

A minimum list of documents required to apply for a study visa to the UAE:

  • an original international passport;
  • a copy of international passport;
  • a letter of admission to the educational institution;
  • a visa fee payment receipt of $1,906;
  • a payment slip confirming tuition payment;
  • a medical certificate issued in the UAE.

The full list of documents depends on the institution. In many cases, a birth certificate, school and/or higher education diploma and language certificate will also be required.

Most undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the UAE are taught in English. University tuition fees vary between $10,000 and $20,000 a year.

Residence permits in Dubai for pensioners

Financially independent foreigners over the age of 55 are eligible for a long-term residence permit in the UAE from the year 2019. It is granted for five years with the right of renewal.

A foreigner must prove his or her solvency in one of the following ways:

  • buying real estate worth at least $545,000;
  • proving savings of $272,000 or more;
  • proving a regular income of at least $5,440,000 per month.
Apartments for sale in the UAE 147 listings on Tranio

Residence permits in the UAE for family members

Relatives of the UAE foreign residents are also allowed to relocate to the country. A male immigrant can apply for visas to the following family members: 

  • a wife;
  • minor sons;
  • sons under 21 years of age, if they are still students;
  • unmarried daughters of any age;
  • parents.

To be eligible for a long-term visa for relatives, the immigrant must earn at least $1,090 per month. For women, the minimum monthly salary threshold is $2,722.

Women living in the UAE may bring fewer family members into the country: only their husbands and children. Also, it is only allowed to foreign women who work in education, engineering or medicine.

Margarita Minasyan Margarita Minasyan Sales Manager in Dubai

A minimum list of documents required to apply for a family member visa:

  • copies of international passports of the family members;
  • family members’ photos;
  • a copy of the sponsor's employment contract indicating the salary;
  • a marriage certificate;
  • children’s birth certificate;
  • a confirmation that the family has a place to live: a rental agreement or certificate of the property ownership.

Documents required when applying for a residence permit in the UAE

A list of documents differs for each immigrant depending on the grounds on which the foreigner is applying for a residence permit. Among the main documents are the following:

  1. An international passport that will expire no earlier than six months after the first entry to the UAE.
  2. A marriage certificate and birth certificates of children. These documents must be apostilled and legalised at the UAE Consulate.
  3. A document confirming the purpose of the foreigner's stay in the UAE: for example, a job offer or a letter of admission to the university. 
  4. A proof of sufficient funds: payroll records, bank statements, a payment statement of university fees, etc.
  5. A proof of medical examination at a licensed centre in the UAE.
  6. A payment receipt of visa fees.

Procedure for obtaining a residence visa in the UAE 

Documents are submitted to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in person or online. If a foreigner gets a job in the UAE, the employer can submit the application for the employees. If an expat is asking for a student visa, the educational institution is responsible for processing and submitting the documents.

Reasons for refusal of a residence visa

A residence permit may be denied if the applicant has submitted an incomplete set of documents or unclear copies of documents.

A foreigner may also be refused or have his residence permit terminated if he/she has violated the country laws.

How a foreigner may obtain the UAE citizenship

The UAE citizenship is only granted to the children of the UAE nationals. It may also be granted to a woman who is married to the UAE national for at least three years. In this case, the decision on granting citizenship is made by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

In addition, the UAE citizenship may be granted if the following conditions are met:

  • at least 30 years of legal residence in the country (at least seven years for citizens of Qatar, Oman or Bahrain of Arab origin);
  • compliance with all regulations and laws of the country;
  • a certain level of Arabic language proficiency;
  • no criminal record;
  • conversion to Islam.

In exceptional cases, the Emirati authorities grant citizenship to a foreigner for special services to the country. However, the UAE citizenship implies the renunciation of any other citizenship and can be revoked due to abuse of the rules of stay, breaking the law, residing outside the UAE for four years in a row or engaging in activities posing a threat to national security.

The UAE does not recognise dual citizenship.

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    Property buying guide for UAE
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    Tranio’s managers offer advice on buying real estate in the UAE
    Marina Filichkina
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    Head of Sales
    +44 17 4822 0039
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