Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Property Residence Visa in Dubai and other Emirates

The good old days, many expatriates who purchased property in select areas of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain were able to obtain three-year residency permits. In these cases, the property owners were sponsored by the UAE master development company they had bought from.
Visas with property in Dubai
Freehold ownership in selected areas of Dubai was first introduced in May 2002, sparking the real estate boom. In 2006 the emirate's three master developers - Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Properties - facilitated the issuing of three-year renewable residence visas to owners under a special arrangement with the Department of Residency
The law
The law states, "If the homeowner has no alternative means of sponsorship for a residence visa, the first owner may be sponsored by your master developer (Nakheel, Dubai Properties or Emaar) for residency in Dubai, UAE, subject to the applicable immigration laws of the country."
However, the purchase of a freehold property does not automatically qualify for a resident visa, officials say. "There is no direct link between property ownership and residence visas. Developers should not lure investors to the property sector with promises of a residence visa."
Cannot work in UAE
Those who have purchased property in Dubai and qualified for a residence visa cannot work in the UAE on that visa. Furthermore, the visa is renewable every three years. If you bring your family to your residence in Dubai, then you will need to get a family residence visa. Dubai residence permits are issued by the Dubai immigration authority. Work permits are issued by the UAE Ministry of Labour. Just as with spouse residence permits, student residence permits, investor resident permits, they are all residence visas that allow the holder to live in the UAE. If the holder wants to work, then their potential employer must apply for a separate work permit from the Labour department
A person will not qualify for a visa of any type in the UAE if you are a citizen of Israel, have an Israeli entry stamp in your passport or if your passport is valid for only six months or less.
Change in Ajman
Until recently, Ajman also issued visas to freehold property owners. According to a report in Gulf News earlier this month, the Ajman Naturalisation and Residency Department has stopped issuing and renewing investors' visas for freehold property owners in Ajman.
Sharjah's stance
Sharjah allows expatriates to invest in land, villa or an apartment for a maximum 99 years, but has never issued residency visas to investors.
The number
All expatriate purchasers of freehold property in the UAE are only entitled to own it for 99 years.
If you think your property is going to get you a visa, think again.
Residency visas were put on hold or suspended in around mid-2008 for most/all Dubai and Ajman property purchases. From 01 June 2009, the UAE will implement a new system of residence visas for UAE property owners which supersede the old property investor residence visa that was valid in Dubai, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah (previously there was no residence visa based on expat property ownership in Abu Dhabi). "Article 33 of the executive regulations of the entry and residency law for entry and residency of foreigners", and a new article, number 34, will be included in the by-law specifying the conditions of the new visa.
UAE multi-entry visa valid for 6 months at a time, permits multiple entries to the UAE, Commonly referred to as a residence visa but not clear if that's the official term. The difference in terminology might be significant.

Property owner residence visa can be renewed indefinitely but the visa holder must exit the UAE and re-apply. The applicant can apply right away rather than wait for a month outside the UAE, according to information on 05 May 2009. When the multi visit visa issued to a property owner expires abroad, his/her visa will be renewed at the airport at arrival." Cost of six-month UAE residence visa is AED 2,000. Renewal cost is the same. Minimum salary requirement of investor is AED 10,000 per month, or equivalent. Not clear if income must be sourced only from outside the UAE - conflicting reports seen.

Property value must be at least AED 1 million. Appears to be based on purchase price (evidence needs to be shown) rather than original price or current market value. Medical insurance is required for investor and family members applying for residence visa under property ownership scheme.
Property must be complete, and title deed in visa applicant's name has been obtained. Joint property owners cannot apply for residence visa (in contrast to the previous system which allowed first named owner to apply).
Direct family members (spouse, children) can be included under the property owner's sponsorship. Not clear if primary sponsor must be male, if there is an maximum age limit for children, or if family members can travel in and out of the UAE independently.
Property must be of an appropriate size to house family members if applicable i.e. a family of 4 is unlikely to be granted a visa if the property is a studio flat (not that there are many studios over AED 1 million in the UAE).
Property residence visa holders under the previous system must change their visa to the new system from 01 June 2009 otherwise they will be regarded as being in breach of UAE immigration laws .Property owners (and family) might be required to have to have a medical test as with other residence visas (visitors with short term entry permits do not have to do a medical test).
Unknown if property residence visa holders can apply for UAE driving licenses, bank accounts, telephone connections, etc. Other residence visa holders can, and previous property residence visa holders could. If the new visa is a "visit" visa rather than a "residence" visa, then probably not. Employment while on a Dubai property residence visa
In simple terms, any type question about UAE visas for work and residence can be answered by asking two questions.
Does the applicant want to live in the UAE? If yes, they need a residence permit from the immigration department.
Does the applicant want to work in the UAE? If yes, then they need a work permit from the labour department.