Dubai is the pinnacle global hub for expatriates, investors and entrepreneurs alike, and is widely considered a hidden gem for people who are looking to expand their portfolios internationally.
According to the World Bank Open Data Census, there are 9.54 million people residing in the UAE, of which 88.52% of the population is international expatriates with Dubai being the home to 35.7% of the population. Thus, the UAE attracts expatriates from every corner of the globe and have several different ways in which the expatriates, investors and entrepreneurs can establish their residency within the UAE. However, in this article I will be addressing how you can obtain a residency visa within the UAE when investing in residential property and the pros and cons in doing so.
The investment program used when purchasing residential property in the UAE is known as the Taskeen Program. This service allows an investor to apply for a residential visa where the value of his residential investment unit is equal to or exceeds One Million Dirhams (AED 1,000,000.00).
The service provided by the Real Estate Investment Promotion and Management Center is fairly straightforward and simple for investors to complete, nevertheless, it is still important to understand all the necessary requirements when investing in residential property in Dubai.
The terms and conditions of the property investment:
- The property should be owned by the applicant, and it should be a flat or villa, and the title deed should be issued by the Dubai Land Department (DLD).
- The property investment should be located within a free hold area.
- The property purchased must be valued at or above one million Dirhams.
- If the investor chooses to mortgage the property investment, they must ensure that at least 50% of the mortgage is paid upfront as you are required to provide a loan statement from the investor’s bank and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to apply for a residency visa.
- The property should not be leased to the investor for 99 years.
Investment Visa Requirements:
- Copy of title deed.
- Copy of passport.
- One personal photo sized 6 X 4.
- Copy of current valid visa.
- The investors must obtain a Good Conduct Certificate (GCC) from General Department of Criminal Investigations at the Dubai Police headquarters.
- In case the investor’s property is mortgaged, they will need to obtain a NOC in order to issue a residency visa on the property investment from the bank provider. The NOC must be in Arabic and attached to a stamped statement from the bank for the loan.
- Once the aforementioned is completed, the investor will then proceed and apply all the requirements to the Real Estate Investment Promotion and Management Center customer services department. Once this is submitted the investor will receive an SMS that their initial request will be approved within 3 to 10 working days, (if you do not receive an SMS within 10 working days, please visit the DLD).
- After initial approval, the investor will be required to pay Eight Thousand Four Hundred Twenty Dirhams (AED 8,420.00) for the residence license. Once completed the investor should check back with the Real Estate Investment Promotion and Management Center after 3 working days and bring their original title deeds to link it with residence license.
- After this is completed the Real Estate Investment Promotion and Management Center will transfer the investor to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, located in the second floor in DLD building to type the visa application, and issue the permit of entry.
- The residency visa is valid for two years and is renewable thereafter.
- In case the investor needs to travel after he applied for residency, he can provide Power of Attorney (PoA) to anyone, and it should be mentioned in the PoA statement “to complete the visa process”.
Request for Investment Visa (Taskeen) Fees:
- Application fee: Nine Hundred Fifty Four Dirhams (AED 954.00);
- Application completion fee after approval: Fourteen Thousand Five Hundred Seventeen Dirhams (AED 14,517.00); and
- If the investor is 65 years or older, the application completion fee after approval: Nineteen Thousand Eighty Four Dirhams (AED 19,084.00).
There are several advantages for investors who use the Taskeen Program to gain residency within the UAE. First, the investor’s ability to not only obtain a residency visa for themselves, but, they can also gain residency visas for their spouse and children. Second, the investor will gain access to the UAE banking system enabling them to open bank accounts within the UAE. Third, there is no cap on the amount of times the investor can renew their 2 year residency visa once they invest in residential property equal to or exceeding One Million Dirhams (AED 1,000,000.00).
When reviewing the Taskeen Program in detail, there was only one significant disadvantage for investors. It is important to understand that when obtaining a residency visa through the Taskeen Program, the investor is not permitted to work within the UAE. The residency visa issued to the investor simply allows the investor to reside within the UAE without obtaining employment. If the investor obtains employment after receiving the residency visa, the investor will need to cancel their residency visa and use the employment visa issued by the company.
Over the past year the UAE Cabinet has been busy approving a new long term visa proposal which were announced in early 2018. Despite receiving some information from the UAE Cabinet regarding its process and requirements, it is still a mystery as to when it will be enacted and exactly what the criterion will entail.
For now, I have listed the speculative guidelines which may in fact turn out to be the UAE’s new long term visa program.
Option 1: Five (5) year residency visa, which can be obtained when the investor invests a minimum of Five Million Dirhams (5,000,000.00) in residential property or any other type of investment within the UAE.
Option 2: Ten (10) year residency visa, which can be obtained when the investor invests a minimum of Ten Million Dirhams (10,000,000.00), of which 40% of the investment can be residential property and the remaining 60% invested in non-real estate investments.
Finally, the long term residence visa can be used to gain residence for the spouse and children of the investor, including one executive director and one advisor, and the UAE Cabinet will be extending the long term visas to entrepreneurs, executives, business professionals working in scientific and research fields and students who demonstrate academic excellence.
Brett Michael Westernoff
Elnaggar Legal Advsiors Limited