20232201 golden visa
The increase in interest in Golden Visas and global citizenship programmes came from market disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Want to sign up for the UAE’s Golden Visa program? But don’t have the Dh2 million or more to commit on a property investment.

If so, then see if the ‘skilled professional’ category works for you. Because ‘applicants for this category is easier to process generally’, said James Swallow, Commercial Director at PRO Partner Group.

“This is mainly because the individual skilled professional will normally have an existing labour file with the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), which can be shared with immigration and already states the applicant’s job title and salary.”

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In recent weeks, there has been a sizeable rise in interest for Golden Visas under the professional category. “If 2022 was about property investments to secure the visa, we are seeing highly skilled newcomers into the UAE wanting to have the longer term residency,” said a consultant. “Plus, there are more companies offering incentives to their new and existing personnel.

Of course, a solid job market is also helping, with sectors such as tech, digital services, retail and hospitality packing in new recruitments, many of them being in middle to senior management roles. New business launches are also happening with regularity, all of which feeds into demand for more Golden Visas.  

“The Golden Visa program continues to be a major draw – I don’t think we are anywhere close to realising the full potential under the various eligible categories.”

For the skilled professional, the additional documents required are files the applicant would already have access to from earlier visa, Emirates ID, and the bank account opening processes.

“For example, a copy of the applicant’s university attested degree by Ministry of Education (which is required at employee on-boarding for a director’s position), UAE health insurance, salary certificate and a valid work contract,” said Swallow.

“The only outstanding document required will be a letter of experience of no less than 5 years in the same position.”

And all of the pre-approval processing of the applications under the pre-skilled category usually takes ‘about a week’. “This is followed by a standard two week turnaround for the visa and Emirates ID after pre-approval is completed,” said Swallow.

How much does the GV cost?
Government fees for all Golden Visa applications are in the same range at around Dh3,000.

Investment visa

“For the investment category, the applicant is less likely to already have these documents in their possession,” said Swallow. “Depending on which investment visa the applicant is applying for, you will be required to submit different documentation.

“For real estate investments specifically, a letter from the Land Department of the relevant Emirate stating the ownership of the property, a value of at least Dh2 million are needed. And for property bought on mortgage, statements and letters provided from the local banks.”

The investor would also be better off getting a valuation done, if ‘prices have changed’ to show that the equity level is above the Dh2 million threshold.

Real estate sources are talking of another spike in investor – overseas and resident - demand from September through property buys. “Some investors are probably waiting to see if property values stabilise in the coming weeks,” said an estate agent. “At least in the emerging locations where Dh2 million homes have seen increased offplan buying activity.”

Time to process

In general, the ‘pre-approval for investor category Golden Visas takes about two weeks, followed by the standard two week turnaround for the visa and EID after pre-approval is completed,” said Swallow.