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How to Get Permanent Residency in the UAE

The United Arab Emirate is one of the most attractive countries in the world for establishing businesses and residency. What makes living in the UAE so compelling? Among its primary benefits is its Tax free status, high quality of life, excellent opportunities for business development on both the Mainland and the dozens of Free zones, and of course, economic and political stability.

Is there a UAE Permanent Residency Visa? 

Before we go into permanent residency in the UAE, we must quickly recap standard residency options. In contrast to a tourist visa, the classes of standard residence visas allow you to hold two-year residency permits that you can renew an unlimited number of times. 

You can obtain a visa for immediate family members and children under 18 as well. A condition of maintaining a valid resident visa is that you must enter the UAE at least once every six months; should you fail to do so, you can risk having your visa status revoked. 

You may obtain a standard resident visa in the UAE under the following circumstances: 

  • Purchasing real estate: If you buy a residential property in Dubai or any other Emirate worth at least one million Dirhams, you can obtain a UAE residence visa valid for two years. 

  • Entering an employment contract: If you are planning on gaining official employment in the UAE from a UAE-based company or the Emirati government, you will need a work visa. 

    • Your employer must perform all the formalities of the visa sponsoring process and will take you an average of two-three weeks to receive your initial work entry permit that has a two-month validity. Then, you would convert the entry permit into a residence visa valid for either two or three years, depending on the issuing zone. 

  • ​Incorporating your own company in the UAE: This route is the most efficient and convenient way of acquiring a residence visa in the UAE as an investor or shareholder. The process only takes a few weeks and the costs are relatively low. The business structure can be purely formal, as long as it meets the necessary Economic Substance Regulations. Visas for investors or shareholders are valid for three years.

  • Studying in the UAE: You can gain a student visa for pursuing a course of study in the Emirates.

  • As a family member of a UAE resident or national: You can also gain residency in the UAE through this pathway.

    In all these cases, you must renew each visa after a certain period or it could get revoked. 

Residence Visa

A residence visa or permit is a type of visa that certifies the legitimacy of an expat to reside in any emirate of the country for a specific period of time subject to the UAE’s immigration laws. The residence status is granted on a range of conditions set by the government such as business, investment, tourism or study, each of which decides the visa type and validity.

What are the types of residence visas in the UAE:
  • Resident visa through employment
  • Investor visa or partner visa
  • Resident visa through family sponsorship
  • Resident visa for domestic workers
  • Specialist resident visa
  • Resident visa for students
Typical Time Frame:
  • 15-20 Working Days

Remote Work Visa

Live in the UAE for upto one year with a remote work visa and enjoy a work-life balance with zero taxes.

The remote work visa allows foreigners to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work in line with the work visa rules and conditions. This visa is marked as a chance for foreign remote workers to access all the standard services that residents enjoy such as – banking, investments, government services, schooling and more.

Typical Time Frame:
  • 10-12 Working Days

Dependent Visa

Now you can sponsor your dependents in the UAE as a business owner or an employee regardless of the profession, provided you meet the minimum salary requirement, show proof of relationship and dependency, ability to house and financially support your dependents while residing in the UAE. Documents showing relation and dependency not issued in the UAE must be legalized and attested by the UAE Consulate from your home country and then by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE.

Types of Dependent Visas:
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
Typical Time Frame:
  • 7-10 Working Days

Golden Visa

The UAE golden visa is a 5 or 10-year renewable residence visa offered to investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents and researchers in various fields of science and knowledge, as well as students with promising academic performance. It allows foreigners to live, work or study in the UAE without the need for a local sponsor and 100% foreign-owned businesses.

Who can apply:

10-year visas are open to investors (public investment of at least Aed 10 million) and people with specialised talents, whilst the 5-year visas are open to investors (property investment of at least Aed 5 million), entrepreneurs and outstanding students.

Typical Time Frame:
  • 10-12 Working Days

Freelance Visa

The Dubai government has initiated efforts to make it easier and cheaper for freelancers to work and live in the UAE. Go Freelance visa is an initiative by the TECOM group that allows freelancers to work in tech, education, media and design sectors as independent contractors with a Freelance permit.

The freelancer permit is ideal for professionals who are on a dependent visa as they only need to get a freelancer license. This permit identifies you as a sole practitioner and enables you to conduct business in your name rather than a brand name.


Typical Time Frame:
  • 10-12 Working Days

UAE Company Advantages

If you are exploring company formation in the UAE, there are critical factors to consider. First, the process will differ based on the Emirate you choose to operate because while the UAE federal government oversees business incorporation for the entire company, the seven Emirates have differing rules and regulations regarding these processes.


Activities and Licences

All business owners looking to secure a trade licence as part of the company formation process in the UAE must also declare the nature of their business activities and their core services. This step is vital because once you formally establish this, your firm will not be able to perform any activities outside the scope of services covered under the licences you are granted. 

Types of legal entities

  • In a free zone where you do not need a local shareholder 

  • As an offshore business

  • As a mainland  business outside of a free zone where you need a local Emirati partner who owns at least 51 per cent of the company 


  • 100 per cent foreign ownership
  • Banking confidentiality guaranteed by law
  • No public registry
  • 100 per cent exemption from corporate and income taxes
  • Zero foreign currency restrictions
  • Full repatriation of company profits and capital
  • Low set-up costs compared to onshore companies
  • No physical office requirements leading to no employee or labour-related costs
  • No share capital requirement

The ability for an offshore company to act as a holding company