Dubai: A total of four hundred golden visas have been handed out in the UAE so far with a target of 6,800 by the end of the year, Major General Mohammad Al Marri, director-general of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), said on Tuesday.
This was announced during a press conference to explain the new Gold Card visa process, which started on May 21 this year, and applies to investors and talented individuals. The 6,800 identified as eligible in the first year of this initiative are from 70 countries and can make a combined investment estimated at Dh100 billion.
Speaking at the press conference at the GDRFA headquarters in Al Jaffiliya on Tuesday, Al Marri said: “The Gold visa given to some has got a duration of 10 years, it means a golden visa is only 10 years but it is renewable.
So long as they still satisfy terms and conditions and are still in the same activity [the visa will continue].
“After 10 years they are continuous for another 10 year period every 10 years, there are medical insurance and other procedures that need to be done in between but it comes without any extra conditions," he said.
“So long as they still satisfy terms and conditions and are still in the same activity,” the visa will continue, added Al Marri, but if investors decreased in worth or their business failed within those 10 years, “things would be looked at on a case to case basis," he said.
Brigadier General Saeed Salem Balhas Al Shamsi, executive director of the Abu Dhabi GDRFA, said there was no minimum requirement stay inside the UAE, so if the visa holder left the country for longer than six months, their visa would still be valid.
"The investor [or special talent] can come and go freely," he said. "There is no need to talk about six months or a specific time period outside the state."
Al Marri said: "6,800 is the primary figure we can achieve by the end of this year, today we have a special team communicating with eligible people to achieve a specific timing and date for each person who has an appointment, with specific categories and committees for this we can achieve 30-40 a day."
Eventually, he said, those eligible would be able to apply online via smartservices.ica.ae or go to a local typing centre.
Al Marri also added that there was no age restriction. "Here in the UAE we never look at age, height, colour, nationality or any other social circumstances, we are dealing with people as humans and not nationalities, we are all equal with no differentiation," he said.
One interesting development was that within the special talents section of the 10-year visa, Executive Directors with a Bachelors Degree, five years experience in the UAE and a salary of Dh30,000 a month could also now apply.
"If you are an investor [or special talent] and you have a Gold Card visa you will never think that it will expire after one or two years and this tension will be removed," said Al Marri. "It will give you the opportunity to go and think of other kinds of businesses to invest in, in the country that trusted you. And, of course, you will be paying back to the country while doing business," he added.
What is the UAE Gold Card?
On May 21, the UAE started issuing long-term residence visas enabling foreign investors and talents to live, work and study in the UAE without a sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business. These visas will be issued for five and 10 year durations and are renewable.
Investors: Those investing at least Dh10 million, that isn’t loaned and has been retained for three years qualify. It extends to business partners, who must also contribute Dh10 million, as well as spouse and children, one executive director and one adviser.
Special talents: Includes researchers in the field of science and knowledge such as doctors, specialists, scientists, inventors, as well as creatives in the field of culture and art. The visa extends to the spouse and children. Within this category executive directors with bachelor degrees, five years experience in the UAE and a salary of Dh30,000 are eligible.
Investors: Those who have invested at least Dh5 million in property, this cannot be from a loan and must be retained for three years.
Entrepreneurs: Those who have a project with a minimum capital of Dh500,000. The visa includes spouse and children, a partner and three executives.
Outstanding students: Includes those with grades of 95 per cent in public and private school and university students in and outside the UAE with a GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation. The visa includes families of the students.
■ What next? The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA)is currently contacting eligible people, but they will soon be able to apply via a website. A special committee has been set up to handle the process.
■ So not permanent but renewable? Provided you still adhere to the terms and conditions of investment and don’t change activity you can renew for another 10-year period.
■ What if your business fails? Things will be reviewed on a case to case basis after your initial 10 years.
■ How many handed out so far? 400 with the view to hit 6,800 by the end of this year. 30-40 can be processed a day, the GRDFA said.
■ What happens if you leave the country for six months? It doesn’t matter, you can come and go freely with no minimum requirement.
■ Is there an age restriction? No, those of any age can apply.