The Golden Visa and Remote Work in the UAE – Insights from Immigration and Mobility Decoded 

In the latest episode of Immigration and Mobility Decoded, we spoke with Florabel Baustista and Philipp von Zitzewitz from Sesam Immigration.  

The team discusses the United Arab Emirates (UAE) golden visa and the rise of remote work visas. Specifically, Florabel and Philipp discuss some of the golden visa’s main features and benefits and provide insights into the process for obtaining these work authorization types.  

These visas are part of the UAE’s initiatives to attract talent and boost its appeal as a global hub for professionals and investors. Join us as we explore these visa types and the UAE work environment. 

 Below is a brief and lightly edited transcript of this conversation.  

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

Has the UAE always had a remote work visa, or was this created in response to the post-pandemic lifestyle and to allow individuals the flexibility to work wherever? 

Bautista: 

No, it was only created recently, post-pandemic, if I’m not mistaken. It was one of the initiatives of the UAE government to attract foreign nationals to live and work in the UAE. 

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

Got it. We’ve heard a lot about remote work visas and how countries are creating them to attract more workers or more individuals to come and work in their respective countries offering a little sneak peek, but we’re creating an Immigration Trends Report, and one of the questions that will be discussed is if organizations allow for remote work. Florabel, for organizations looking at their various visa options, what are your general best practices and insights you can offer them to look at their options and determine which ones make the most sense for their company? 

Bautista: 

There are very limited visa options in the UAE compared to other countries, and there is no permanent residency. So, ultimately, it’s still the number one visa option we always recommend, especially if the foreign national is going to stay in the UAE for three months, six months or more. Then, the best option is to be on an employment visa because there’s more flexibility. It makes more sense that the employee’s on an employment visa, especially when you’re planning to travel back and forth within the GCC region. 

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

Philipp, the UAE also has something called the Golden Visa. Is that correct? 

von Zitzewitz: 

Yes, that’s correct. That’s also a novelty after the pandemic. The Golden Visa allows people to stay in the country for up to 10 years, while the traditional visa allows a two-year period. The Golden Visa was introduced to retain talent in the market and allow people to stay here longer. It favors talent such as doctors, highly educated people, business owners and leaders in the economy. It’s now also more available. There is a connection between education and capacity, and there’s also the element of investment. 

Many people buying property in the UAE are entitled to the Golden Visa. If you invest more than 2 million dirhams in a property here, you are entitled to the same visa. It’s a new form that we’re seeing to allow people to stay longer in the country and gain some perspective. 

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

When you work with either the individuals on the Golden Visa or the organizations using it, who do you find is typically using them? You mentioned doctors and education, but I’m wondering if you can elaborate a little bit more on specific industries that tap into the Golden Visa. 

von Zitzewitz: 

Our clients often favor management positions because there’s a certain cost also related to applying for a Golden Visa. Some clients offer to pay these costs to their top management. A trend we are seeing is that higher management often gets this benefit, and with the company’s backing, there’s an easier process to apply for this visa. We receive many requests from our clients from top management to apply for the Golden Visa. Apart from that, there is also the initiative from the employees themselves.  The advantage of the Golden Visa is that it allows you a certain freedom in the country, so you can change employers and much more easily. The application process for someone not yet on a visa is longer and more tedious. 

If you are on a Golden Visa, you can job hop much easier. You can leave one company and join another with just a few formalities. There’s a sense of ownership and freedom that comes along with that visa. That’s why it’s very, very much favored by many nationalities that don’t necessarily receive an on-arrival visa in the UAE. Obtaining this kind of visa gives you a bit of status and privilege. And that’s why companies use that element to incentivize their top management by offering this. 

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

It sounds like the Golden Visa is a pretty popular visa for those who can use it. Do you foresee the government expanding the pool of people who can use it in the near to long-term future? 

Bautista: 

I think they are not only expanding, but they are really encouraging everybody in the UAE to apply for a golden visa. Initially, the threshold was 50,000 dirhams for you to be eligible to apply for a golden visa, but then they changed it radically to 30,000 dirhams. Any employees who are at a manager level can apply. The word “manager” must be on your residence visa, and it can be any manager. If it says “manager” on your visa and you earn a salary of 30,000 dirhams per month, then you will be qualified to apply for a Golden Visa. Additionally, your university degree certificate must be fully legalized in the UAE.  

For property owners, as long as you purchase a property worth 2 million dirhams, even if you have not yet paid half of it, you can apply for a property Golden Visa. Your visa will read as a property owner; its validity is also 10 years. The same validity can be extended to your family members.  

Bautista: 

A Golden Visa is also advantageous if you have a male dependent, meaning you have a son connected to your visa. The challenge in the UAE is that if you have a son and your son is 21 years old, the visa sponsorship is a bit challenging because it goes to a humanitarian case committee for approval if you still would like to continue a sponsorship to your son, who is already a 21-year-old. If parents have a Golden Visa and want to extend sponsorship to a son who is not married and is over 21, that sponsorship can still be extended to your son. 

For a daughter who is not married, regardless of age, the visa can be dependent on the parents. Additionally, the Golden Visa has no restrictions for being outside the UAE. In a typical scenario for a regular employment visa holder, you cannot be out of the UAE for more than 180 days or six months. But if you have a Golden Visa, you can stay out of the UAE for as long as you want and then come back in and still have your visa. 

Immigration & Mobility Decoded: 

That’s a pretty cool benefit. 

von Zitzewitz: 

Yes. There’s also another visa in the pipeline that has yet to be introduced. That visa has the same privileges but is only valid for five years. However, five years is a lot more than the traditional two. So, this is the path the government is taking to retain talent in the market and allow people to stay longer in the country with more freedom. 


 

Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at Corporate Immigration Partners, P.C., or another qualified professional of your choosing. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult your Envoy representative, or another qualified representative of your choosing.