The UAE is shaking up its visa rules in an effort to attract the finest talent and make itself more competitive. The details and timeframes remain to be finalised, but here’s what we know so far.
These will be granted to some categories of skilled workers – most likely people in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields.
Five-year residency visas
These are likely to be granted to overseas students studying in the UAE, with 10-year visas granted to exceptional students.
Students sponsored by their UAE-based parents will be able to extend their visas after graduation to allow time to decide on their future career path and find a job.
The AED 3,000 one-off worker deposit is being replaced by an annual AED 60 insurance fee. Around AED 14 billion currently held as deposits could be released back to companies as a result of this, freeing up cashflow in the corporate world.
If you’re just passing through the UAE, you can now enter the country for free for 48 hours. And a transit visa can be extended for up to 96 hours for AED 50.
An amnesty will run from August to October for those who are illegal or have overstayed their visa. Overstayers can leave without fines and without a ban if they leave voluntarily; they are responsible for arranging their own ticket. Plus, illegals who voluntarily leave will receive only a two-year ban.
Dubai Media City has introduced a new freelance permit for media and education professionals priced at AED 7,500. This doesn’t include a visa, but it’s much cheaper than the trade licence route that freelancers previously had to take in order to work legally.
Change visa status
You’ll be able to change your visa status (for example, from visitor to employed) without having to leave the country and come back in.