As governments around the world facilitate the introduction of Golden visa schemes through which residency is offered to individuals in exchange for investment in a country, what do they offer the property investor, and how does the UAE scheme benefit the entrepreneurial investor?
There are currently more than 100 countries offering some form of residency or citizen status in exchange for investment, and the cost-to-benefit ratio differs in all of them.
Historically, a residency visa allowing ex-pats to live and work in the UAE had to be sponsored by an employer and renewed every three years, which had a potentially limiting effect on FDI, but when the UAE introduced its golden visa scheme in 2019 to provide a long-term residency pathway for entrepreneurs, investors, and individuals holding special talents and skills, the situation changed overnight. An additional benefit was that applicants did not require employer sponsorship to be eligible for this type of visa, while a downside was that when the system was introduced, the rules governing who could apply were quite strict.
But make no mistake, the UAE government has been keen to keep up with the times and make everything easier for investors by constantly updating the details of the scheme – the most recent amendments simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries.
It’s important to know that there are still entitlement restrictions for the UAE Golden Visa, but for residents or expats now wishing to purchase property for their own accommodation, buy-to-let or pure investment, there is only one to take note of at this point: real estate investors can obtain a Golden Visa when purchasing a property that is worth no less than AED2 million.
In March this year, new amendments announced that investors are entitled to obtain a long-term visa when purchasing a property with a loan from specific local banks. Investors can also get residency when buying one or more off-plan properties of no less than AED2 million from approved local real estate companies.
So, what exactly are the benefits of a UAE Golden Visa? This long-term, 10-year residency is granted to investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional talents, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, humanitarian pioneers and frontline heroes, a special category that includes those working on the frontline in healthcare facilities, as well as in prevention and protection.
While some countries may have turned away from golden visas of late, for example the UK, the UAE increasingly sees them as a vital tool for revolutionising its talent pool and diversifying its economy as part of the state’s shift in focus away from the oil and gas industry.
Holders of the visa can now stay outside the UAE for as long as they need, without it affecting their residence status whereas previously, residents who stayed outside the UAE for six months or more lost their residency.
The amendments allow Golden Visa holders to sponsor his or her family members, including spouse and children regardless of their age and can also sponsor an unlimited number of support services (domestic help).
Another benefit for family members allows them to stay in the UAE in the event of the death of the Golden Visa holder.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of the UAE Golden Visa is that it adds a welcome level of security to your family’s life and lifestyle: with a 10 year visa, you can own your own home or invest in the area without any concerns, in what is a relatively painless process.
The UAE is constantly listed in the top echelons of global locations that are safe, offer a good quality of life and feature high in the ease of doing business index, and there is certainly no shortage of amazing property ownership options in the UAE with high-growth potential, from studio apartments to luxury villa communities and literally everything in between.