VISA OPTIONS-1642395056685
The menu of UAE residence visas has plenty of options, with each carrying unique features to suit different categories of people in varying scenarios. Image Credit: Seyyed de L'lata/Gulf News

The next time your UAE residence visa comes up for renewal, you can pick and choose from a bigger bouquet of options, provided, of course, you meet the eligibility criteria.

The launch of the latest Talent Pass by the Dubai Airport Free Zone that entitles the holder to a three-year residence visa has widened the existing offerings. Time was when our stay in the UAE was purely dependent on the work we did. It was either the good old company-sponsored employment visa or if we were running a business, an investor’s visa.

Today, the menu has so much more with each kind of visa carrying unique features to suit different categories of people in varying scenarios. Residents can now pick from the innovative freelance visas, specialist talent visas, retirement visas, golden visas, remote work visas, and going forward, green visas - all aimed at helping them achieve greater stability in their lives.

Let’s take an example. A 60-year-old expat on an employment visa is set to retire from his job. His wife still works and he wishes to stay on in the UAE, and start a consultancy. He owns a property valued at Dh5 million. As he looks to change his residency status, the options before him present a welcome problem of plenty.

By virtue of his investment, he can apply for the golden visa that would be valid for the next five years. He can also opt for the five-year retirement visa, which is given to anyone with an investment of a Dh2 million in a property, has financial savings of at least Dh1 million or can show a monthly income Dh20,000. He is also eligible for a three-year visa under the newly launched Talent Pass, given his free zone consultancy plans. And, of course, he can always get on a family visa as his wife’s dependent.

The point is his ability to exercise a choice gives him a great sense of comfort and freedom. He can zero in on the type of visa most suited to his needs after evaluating the relative costs and benefits.

Phenomenal success

Many expats, who have lived and worked here for decades, consider UAE to be their home. Having spun phenomenal success stories for themselves, they also become used to the ease and high standard of living that the UAE affords.

The country’s exceptional law and order, its multi-cultural ethos and futuristic vision make it the perfect place for children to grow up, while staying rooted to their values. Its hassle-free business environment and tax-free benefits remain huge draws. As do its state-of-the-art infrastructure and impeccable services. Add to this long list now the exemplary manner in which UAE has tackled COVID-19, making it the most resilient in the world. If anything, it has firmed up the resolve of many expats to stay on in this safe haven.

Case in point is a family of three that travelled to their native country as part of a phased relocation plan last year. But they air-dashed right back after a grueling experience amid the pandemic at home. They have shelved their relocation plan since, and are looking to apply for a golden visa. They say just the thought that they can bank on an ambulance to be at their doorstep and reach them to a decent hospital on time is enough of a reassurance for them to stay on.

An octogenarian I met recently went to the extent of saying he owes his good health and longevity to this country. He came to Dubai as a young engineer in 1976. Over the 46 years since, he has availed three kinds of residence visas – the regular company-sponsored employment visa which he kept renewing over 20 years, a renewable investor’s visa after he became a partner in a company thereafter and now, the 10-year golden visa accorded to him because of his net worth. He says he gave up his investor’s visa for the golden visa because of its long-term benefits and privileges.

That the golden visa covers not just high net worth individuals but also professionals and creative talent is a blessing for those eligible under these categories, even as UAE gives a huge push to the creative economy. Under the new scheme of things, outstanding school students too can apply for a five-year student visa and sponsor their families as well if they are able to support themselves. Why, even the one-year remote work visa is a great solution for those who want to have a foot in two worlds – stay in the UAE and enjoy all the benefits, while retaining their employment overseas.

Where in the world would you get so many residency options with so many privileges to go with them? Like everything else in the UAE, this too reflects a luxury of choice.