One of the major growth drivers of the Dubai economy has always been the real estate sector. And the Dubai government has consistently introduced and implemented policy initiatives and measures to further improve this sector to retain investor confidence and increase foreign direct investment.
Among the various new visa initiatives launched earlier this year, the five-year property investment visa has drawn a lot of attention from investors as the key pre-criteria for a residency visa application is a minimum investment of Dh5 million in the real estate sector. Investors are currently entitled to apply for a three-year property investment visa, which is facilitated through the Cube centre at Dubai Land Department, subject to a minimum investment of Dh1 million in acquisition of the property.
Investors can now avail of a longer visa term of five years, which can be renewed upon expiry for a further term so long as the applicant retains the Dh5 million investment in real estate. The new residency permit will also enable investors to sponsor visas for their dependent family members. As a result, the investor can now live in Dubai for longer terms and enjoy their property together with the high standard of living offered.
While the five-year visa is for residency purposes only, the investor is eligible to hire staff such as domestic help and drivers through Tadbeer service centres located across the city and licensed by UAE Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation.
Based on our discussions with the officials at the Cube centre, the new five-years visa can be issued within a day’s time so long as the applicant satisfies all of the visa requirements including payment of an application fee of Dh2,600. Only completed properties that are fully paid for by the applicant and free from any mortgage are eligible for the visa application.
An “open” visa
The new visa is an open one, ie, there is no minimum time limit for which the investor must remain in the UAE to keep the visa active. The investor will be free to enter and exit the country at his convenience without having to meet the rule of entering the country every six months as required for other visas offered by the emirate.
We have further learnt that the Land Department will add a restriction over the identified portfolio of property, which were relied upon by the investor in relation to its five-year visa application submission. The purpose of the restriction is to prevent the investor from disposing the real estate during the term of the visa in order to maintain the minimum investment threshold.
If the investor wishes to sell any of the properties during the term of the visa, the Land Department will cancel the five-year visa unless the investor is able to replace it with a substitute property. The value of the property for purposes of the visa is determined based on the purchase price paid for the acquisition of the property as opposed to the market value.
This is particularly beneficial as any slowdown in the property market will not impact the investor’s ability to retain his residency visa.
With the introduction of this new property investment visa, Dubai has joined the likes of other countries like Greece, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, etc, which offer similar residency programmes. We believe that Dubai will be able to attract more international investors who will not only contribute towards the development of the economy, but such an initiative will also encourage the investors to choose it as their destination to invest and build their lives.
— Aruna Mukherji is associate lawyer for real estate at Al Tamimi & Company.