Dubai: UAE residents have hailed the new residency visa reforms announced under the Projects of the 50 that commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary, further advancing its socio-economic ecosystems.
The announcements about the first set of a series of initiatives on Sunday revealed major changes in residency laws with the introduction of two new categories of visas — Green visa and Freelancer visa — and extension of the grace period to leave the country in case of job loss or retirement.
Nandakumar PM, who runs a plastic raw material manufacturing company in Ras Al Khaimah, said the announcement about the Green visa brought in new hopes for his family.
“Though I am an investor I was not sure if I can get the Golden visa. I have two sons who grew up here. Both had to switch to student visas under their universities. Now, my elder son Nithin has finished his studies and is working as a production manager in my company. So, he is on employment visa. My younger son Nikhil is still under his university visa for which we have to pay around Dh1500 every year. I hope I will be eligible to take a Green visa and then sponsor him also.”
A UAE resident for 33 years, Nandakumar said he feels proud to be in the UAE whose leaders have great vision for the country and its residents. “There have been major reforms in the residency laws in the country in the past few years. They have brought in a lot of convenience and happiness to expats here. We welcome the new announcements also,” he added.
Students to benefit
Several students also welcomed the news and hoped that they could benefit from the new visa reforms that extended children’s age limit on parents’ residency from 18 to 25 years.
Omar Khabbazi, a university student in finance from Lebanon, said he was looking forward to his parents getting the permission to continue to sponsor his resident visa here. “My dad works for a logistics company and my mother is the director at a French school. They have been long term residents here. It would be perfect if they can get the permission to continue to sponsor my visa,” he said.
Maisa Eid from Syria, who is doing her journalism course in Dubai, said: “I felt really relieved to hear the news that top students can also apply for Green visa. We have been worried about the resident visa of my brother who is 19- years-old and soon leaving for his university abroad. He did his first year online and now he has to go to Turkey. I really want to apply for the Green visa. I hope I can get it as my GPA is 3.98 and then I can sponsor my parents and brother.”
Maisa said the recent initiatives that support the student community in the UAE have been welcomed by one and all. “It is great to see the UAE announcing so many initiatives that support students and their families. It is like an appreciation for hard working students. We really appreciate these humanitarian gestures.”
Freelancers to flourish
Lalita Madhav Potdar, a QHSE and food safety auditor from India, said she was delighted to hear about the new visa categories.
“I have worked here for nearly 15 years. I am a compliance auditor for QHSE and food safety for Middle East. I am currently freelancing auditing services in these fields. I am 60 and I want to continue working here as much as I can. I am looking forward to the Green visa as I am in pre-retirement stage and also I can sponsor my mother.
“The new Freelancer visa will greatly benefit people specialised in various sectors like me even after retirement. The UAE has made tremendous changes to the residency laws with the new announcements. We are blessed to be here. I want to thank the UAE government for their humanitarian approach,” she added.
Sharifa Ahmad, a supervisor with a Tasheel centre, said the visa announcements were the talk of the town yesterday. “In our office, everyone was discussing about it. All our customers were happy to know about the new visa reforms. Some were especially happy about the new system allowing people to sponsor children up to 25 years as kids don’t get employment visa after they turn 18. Everywhere they are asked for work experience. So, with this, they can stay with their parents and try for jobs after their college or university.”
Grace period extension a boon
She said expats are also relieved to hear about the extension of the grace period from 30 days to 90-180 days after job loss or retirement. “We still need some clarity on it. Yet, it is a great relief for expats to stay here for a longer period so they can get ample time to either look for a new job or settle everything peacefully and leave.”
An expat from Iran, Sharifa said she was keen to know if she would also be eligible for the Green visa. “I am under my brother’s sponsorship and work with my labour card. It will be nice if I can get the Green visa and be on independent visa. We are waiting for the finer details of the visa categories to come in the immigration system.”
New visa schemes include
Green Visa, which distinguishes between work permits and residencies, enables highly skilled individuals, investors, entrepreneurs and top students and graduates to sponsor themselves. Green Visa involves:
- Sponsorship of young people until the age of 25 instead of 18
- Extending the grace period for leaving the country upon job loss or retirement to 90-180 days instead of 30.
- Freelancers Visa, which is the first federal scheme of its kind, and enables self-employers to sponsor themselves.
Other specific regulatory changes include
- Extension of business trip permits from 3 months to 6 months
- Sponsorship of parents under the visa of direct family members
- One-year residency extension for humanitarian cases
- Extension of children’s age limit on parents’ residency from 18 to 25 years
- Extension of grace period upon job loss or retirement to 90-180 days
The new regulations also include expanding the Golden Visa eligibility to include managers, CEOs, specialists in science, engineering, health, education, business management and technology, while the pathway has been smoothed for highly skilled and specialised residents, investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, pioneers, leading students and graduates.
The measures have been introduced to enhance the competitiveness and flexibility of the UAE labour market, facilitate sector growth, spur knowledge transfer and skills development, and create greater stability and security for residents.