What is a UAE Golden Visa?
The UAE Golden Visa is a long-term residence visa granted to foreigners for 5 or 10 years, enabling them to live, work, or study in the UAE.
A wide range of people are eligible to apply. Among them are scientists, students, athletes, inventors, entrepreneurs, startup owners, and people who have worked with extraordinary dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as nurses, medical assistants, lab technicians, pharmacologists, and others.
A 10-year Golden Visa to the UAE requires a minimum of $545,000. To get a 5-year residence visa, investing $136,000 in the economic project is enough.
The applicants fulfil visa requirements, pass a medical checkup and get a long-term Golden Visa. The whole process takes around 3 months.
3 options for obtaining UAE Golden Visa for investors and entrepreneurs
1. Public investments allow the applicants to receive a 10-year visa if they prove a capital of AED 2,000,000, or $545,000. It must be owned entirely — without loans. Investors also submit a letter from the Federal Tax Authority stating that they will pay the government no less than AED 250,000, or $68,000 annually.
The UAE dirham is pegged to the US dollar at the exchange rate of $1 = AED 3.6725.
2. Real estate investors are granted a Golden Visa for 5 years if they own one or more properties with a total value of a minimum of $545,000. An investor can take a mortgage in a UAE bank with a down payment of 50%.
Foreigners can buy property only in the Freehold Zones — specific areas where foreigners are granted full land ownership rights.Individuals own the properties in these zones and can use them within local laws. The sale of any freehold property does not require state approval. There are 9 freehold zones in Abu Dhabi and around 50 in Dubai.
Examples of real estate in UAE
3. Entrepreneurs get a Golden Visa for 5 years if they own a technical or future economic project based on risk & innovation. In addition, they must have an approval letter from each of the following:
- an auditor in the UAE stating that the project value is not less than AED 500,000, or $136,000;
- the authorities in the UAE stating that the project is of a technical or future nature;
- an accredited business incubator in the UAE to establish the proposed activity in the country.
Requirements for American investors to receive the UAE Golden Visa
Main applicants can sponsor their families — spouses and children. Parents of the applicant can be granted only a 10-year visa.
Investors are eligible for the UAE Golden Visa if they can confirm the legality of their income. Both investors and their spouses must be:
- capable of verifying the legitimacy of income;
- with no criminal record;
- without any socially dangerous diseases, such as HIV or tuberculosis.
It is possible to include unmarried sons under 25 years old and unmarried daughters of any age in the application. Children over 18 must have no socially dangerous diseases.
UAE Golden Visa for outstanding specialized talents
Outstanding specialized talents are eligible for the 10-year UAE Golden Visa if they meet specific requirements.
Inventors submit a recommendation letter from the UAE Ministry of Economy stating that their patent has added value to the country’s economy.
Creative people in culture and art can get a visa if they submit an approval letter from the Department of Culture and Arts in the respective emirate.
Executive directors need to provide the following:
- a copy of a university degree accredited by the Ministry of Education with educational attainment not less than a bachelor’s degree;
- a letter of experience of no less than 5 years holding the same position;
- a salary certificate with a minimum salary of $13,600;
- a valid work contract.
Doctors provide an approval Letter from the Ministry of Health and Prevention in the UAE to practice medicine.
Scientists submit a letter of recommendation from the Emirates Council of Scientists or the Secretariat of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence stating that the applicant has been awarded the Medal of Scientific Excellence.
Pioneers of humanitarian work must be among the following categories to qualify:
- members and employees who have worked for international and regional organizations for a minimum of five years;
- members and employees who have worked for civil associations and institutions of public interest for a minimum of five years;
- individuals who have received an appreciation award from a local, regional or international organization that focuses on humanitarian work;
- funders of humanitarian work provided that the value of the support is at least $545,000 or its equivalent.
Specialists in engineering and science need a copy of a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree certified by the Ministry of Education and a work contract.
Athletes need a recommendation letter from the General Sports Authority or one of the sports councils.
Outstanding students of foreign universities may be granted a Golden Visa, provided that:
- the university is rated among the best 100 universities globally according to the rating system recognized by the Ministry of Education;
- the student’s cumulative GPA is not less than 3.5;
- it has not been more than 2 years since graduation;
- the Ministry of Education accredits a graduation certificate.
Frontline heroes who displayed extraordinary effort in crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, also may get the Golden Visa with a recommendation from a competent authority. Frontline heroes include nurses, medical assistants, lab technicians, pharmacologists and other cadres approved by the Frontline Heroes Office.
Necessary documents to apply for the UAE Golden Visa for US citizens
No matter what the terms of residence the foreigner applies for, the required documents are:
- Birth certificates.
- Marriage certificate.
- Certificate of non-marriage for children over 18 years of age.
- Certificate of no criminal record from the country of citizenship.
- UAE Good Conduct certificate addressed to the Dubai Land Department.
- Medical insurance.
- Medical Fitness Certificate.
- One photo per applicant.
- Current UAE visa.
In addition, the applicants provide the documents depending on whether they are investors or outstanding talents. These may be letters of recommendation, salary certificates or other documents.
12 benefits of the UAE Golden Visa for Americans
1. Easy path to a residence visa. Unlike other UAE visas, investors do not need to search for an employer or a sponsor to acquire a Golden Visa. Before residency, foreigners have 6 months to enter the country with a Golden Visa.
2. Creating a safe haven. When investors get their residence visas, they do not need to stay in the country long to maintain their status. It is only enough to visit the country once or twice a year.
3. Tax optimization. The UAE residents do not pay taxes on income, capital gains, inheritance, gifts and properties.
The corporate tax is 9% if a company generates a profit of $102,000+ per annum. It is lower than in many other countries: in the US, it makes up 21%, in Australia — 30%, in Canada — 38%.
4. Resident’s rights. Investors with residence permits in the UAE can open bank accounts in dollars, euros, dirhams and other currencies. Accounts are suitable for savings and international transfers.
Receiving a driving licence in the UAE is an easy process for Americans. They do not need to pass an exam and may exchange their licence.
Residents of the UAE have access to an Esaad Privilege Card — Dubai’s discount program. Its participants get exclusive offers, bonuses and discounts of up to 70% in shops, clinics, service companies and other establishments in the UAE and abroad.
5. Comparatively cheap real estate. Property prices in Dubai are more affordable by 75% compared to New York. For a 100 sqm apartment in the city centre, a buyer pays $400,000, while the exact price can fetch only 25 sqm in New York.
6. Low crime rate. The UAE has been one of the world’s safest countries since 2011, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GIP). UAE is a safe place for women, children and older adults to walk around at any time of the day.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are on the list of the most secure cities in the world according to the Safe Cities Index (SCI). Cameras are at every corner of the town, and the government has created a strict criminal justice system.
7. Professional opportunities. The UAE job market constantly evolves due to the rapidly growing economy and innovations. The demand for skilled workers is increasing in a variety of industries. The unemployment rate in the UAE is 3.23% in 2023.
The most in-demand jobs in the country are:
- data scientists and analysts;
- artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists;
- cybersecurity experts;
- renewable energy engineers;
- healthcare professionals;
- e-commerce specialists;
- digital marketing experts;
- blockchain developers;
- project managers;
- supply chain and logistic managers.
8. Stable economy. The UAE is a global leader in competitive and advanced economies. The key drivers of its development are rising oil prices, its production, and the non-oil sector, which accounts for 70% of the total GDP.
The government provides a protective environment for investors and guarantees business stability and investment prospects. According to Kearney’s Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index, the UAE holds the 15th position worldwide and first regionally, thanks to its pro-investor laws.
9. High healthcare and educational systems. Many foreigners get treatment in the UAE thanks to its high quality. The average life expectancy is 80 years. Medicine in the UAE is paid, except for emergency care.
Expatriates from the US have a great choice of schools in the UAE, thanks to their US and UK curriculums. The country has a very high literacy rate and is ranked number three out of 188 countries.
10. No language barrier. English is widely spoken in the UAE due to the many expats. The nationals make up 11% of the population, while expatriates — 89%. English is taught in schools all over the country.
11. Warm climate and diverse culture. The UAE has a desert climate with blue skies and sunshine all year round. It has between eight and eleven hours of sun per day, and the sea in the country is warm enough for swimming twelve months of the year.
Due to the large percentage of expatriates, the UAE is a globalized, multicultural country. But for that, the country has a real community feel. The government strives to make citizens happy: they have a Happiness Minister, happiness officers and special happiness summits.
12. Religious freedom. Islam is the country's official religion, which guarantees freedom of worship as long as it does not conflict with public policy or morals. Non-muslim worshippers are allowed to build churches and temples. In the UAE, all persons are equal before the law and discrimination on grounds of religious belief is prohibited.
Best places for Americans to live in the UAE
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE. It contains the country’s biggest economy. In 2022, the emirate’s gross domestic product (GDP) was around $299 billion.
A vast majority of the expats live in Abu Dhabi. Adapting to different customs and traditions can be a culture shock for some. However, several expat communities offer Facebook groups, meetup groups, sports clubs and other groups to join.
Among the popular activities here is safari. You can choose a trip including BBQ, camel ride and sandboarding, or rent an appropriate car and visit the desert. Camping under the stars, amongst the red dunes of the Liwa desert, is a unique experience.
Some of the most popular and exciting places are only four hours from Abu Dhabi by plane. Especially during the hot summer, citizens travel to Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Greece.
Dubai is famous for its incredible skylines, shopping activities and huge attractions. It boasts the world’s tallest tower — the Burj Khalifa, and one of the world’s largest artificial marinas.
Dubai retains links to its origins as a humble port town. On Dubai Creek, traditional wooden abras are alongside modern motorboats — the natural sands of Jumeirah Public Beach contrast with the crafted Palm Islands. Gold and Spice Souks flourish in the shadow of the colossal Dubai Mall.
Dubai is often considered the most open-minded emirate, respecting diverse beliefs and lifestyles. It adopts a more moderate stance in incorporating Islamic principles. Expatriates can purchase alcohol and consume food and beverages during daylight hours in Ramadan.
Sharjah is just a short drive from the metropolis of Dubai. It is an attractive destination for expats, thanks to its comparatively affordable cost of living and easygoing lifestyle. All the famous museums and art galleries gather in this city.
Sharjah is rich in natural beauty, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and the desert views. There’s a mangrove forest, a seaside promenade, and a bird of prey centre for those exploring nature.
Ras al-Khaimah is an emirate with 39 miles of beach coastline and the longest zipline in the world at Jebel Jais — the UAE’s highest peak. This city provides a quieter lifestyle but is relatively close to Dubai, making it easy for residents to travel there for leisure and business purposes.
The emirate has a rich history and culture with attractions like the Dhayah Fort, the National Museum, and the Hajar Mountains. In Ras al-Khaimah, you can get a membership to a fancy resort and visit it every day. It allows ticket holders to use the pools, beach access and gym.
Ajman is the smallest emirate in the UAE. This is a good place for settling with a big family, for here you can rent a large villa for a relatively low cost and live in a quiet neighbourhood. The lifestyle here is relaxed and away from noise since there aren’t many cars and queues here.
Parks, such as Al Jarf Public Garden and Al Hamidiya Public Park, offer play areas for kids, sports courts and barbeque areas. The best leisure activity in Ajman is walking along the seashore and enjoying the warm breeze or strolling at the grounds of the Ajman Corniche Hotel. You can grab a meal at any of the restaurants lined up there.
Cost of living in the UAE
The most expensive city in the UAE is Dubai. Still, living there is almost 50% cheaper than in New York. A family of four spends around $9,000 per month to live in NY, while for the same comfort level, it is only $5,000 in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Sharjah is a developed and affordable city. Expenses for a family of four without rent make up around $2,500. The smallest cities in the US are cheaper than Sharjah, but generally, living in the US is much more expensive. The exception is utilities, which are higher in the UAE.
The most affordable cities in the UAE are Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain — the cost of living there is about 30% lower than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Property is 70% cheaper in Dubai than in New York — one pays $4,000 per square meter instead of $16,000 as it would be in the US.
The rent of a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre in Dubai is around $2,000, in the suburbs — $1,000. In New York, it costs 50% more.
Utilities — electricity, heating, water — are around $190 per month for an 85m2 apartment in Dubai, while NY costs $170. The price for the internet starts at $90 in the UAE and is around $70 in the US.
Food is 40—50% cheaper in the UAE than in the US. An exception is domestic and imported beer, which costs from $3 to $7 in Dubai. Dinner in a mid-range restaurant for a couple is around $70 in Dubai, while in NY, the bill will be $40 higher.
Transportation is $80 for a monthly pass in Dubai and $130 in New York. The price for 1 mile by taxi is 50% higher in the US — one hour of waiting costs around $8 in Dubai and $30 in New York.
Healthcare is provided on a paid basis, except for emergency cases. It is mandatory to have private medical insurance, which starts at $150 per year. Insurance with extended coverage for a family of four is $1,000 and for a single person — $500.
Education is free for the UAE citizens only. Preschool fee is $260 per month in Sharjah and $750 — in Dubai. As for the private schools, the average price is $22,500 per year. To enrol in a university in the UAE, parents pay from $19,000 to $100,000 per annum, depending on the level of education and chosen program.
Entertainment in the UAE has many leisure and shopping options. A ticket to a cinema costs $12. The monthly fee for a fitness club starts from $50. Shopping is a common way to spend time in the UAE. Expenses on clothes are more or less the same in Dubai and New York.
Cost of living per month in Sharjah and Dallas for 2 adults and a 10-year kid
|Goods and services||Sharjah||Dallas|
|Rent a 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre||$1,300||$4,000|
Step-by-step procedure for obtaining the UAE Golden Visa
Here is how to obtain the UAE Golden Visa in 5 steps. The whole procedure usually takes 2+ months.
Immigrant Invest conducts a preliminary check to prepare for the program’s primary Due Diligence. It allows us to find possible issues and raise the chances of getting a visa.
The check is confidential. The investor’s documents are verified by a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Officer who knows the peculiarities of the Due Diligence conducted in the UAE.
You get a list of documents for an application from Immigrant Invest lawyers. Then you submit the original documents, and the lawyers translate them, notarise and conduct consular legalization.
To have an opportunity to see the properties to buy, pass a medical checkup and apply for a Golden Visa in the UAE, you’ll receive a 6-month visa.
You can buy a property without visiting the UAE. Immigrant Invest’s real estate professionals will offer options that suit your goals and wishes. Our lawyers help to conclude the purchase and sale agreement and register ownership.
The investor and their family over 18 undergo a medical checkup in a UAE clinic. They are tested for dangerous infectious diseases and pass fluorography to obtain a certificate of health status.
The inventors and their families come to the UAE to apply for the visa and give biometrics to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Immigrant Invest lawyers accompany them.
Usually, the application consideration takes five to seven days. If additional questions occur, the investor and their lawyers have 30 days to answer. After the application’s approval, the investor and their family get visas.
- UAE Golden Visa is a long-term residence visa granted to foreigners for 5 or 10 years, allowing them to live, work, or study there.
- Two options for the investors are available: to purchase real estate for a 5-year visa or to make public investments to receive a 10-year visa. Minimum expenses for both variants — AED 2,000,000, or $545,000.
- Entrepreneurs can get a Golden Visa for 5 years and minimum expenses of AED 500,000, or $136,000.
- The UAE Golden Visa is also granted to outstanding talents: inventors, doctors, scientists, athletes, creative artists, executive directors, pioneers of humanitarian work, specialists in engineering and science, frontline heroes and students.
- Family members — spouses and children — can receive the UAE Golden Visa with the main applicant. Parents can be granted only a 10-year visa.
- Living in the UAE is 50% cheaper than in the US. Property is 70% cheaper in Dubai than in New York.
- The most affordable cities in the UAE are Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain — the cost of living there is about 30% lower than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Expatriates make up 89% of the whole population in the UAE, that’s why English is widely spoken in the country.
Frequently asked questions
UAE Golden Visa is a long-term visa granted to investors, entrepreneurs and outstanding talents for 5 or 10 years. It allows applicants to live, work and study in the country.
To get a UAE Golden Visa, an applicant needs to fall under one of the following categories:
- public investors — with a minimum investment of $545,000;
- real estate investors — with a purchase worth at least $545,000;
- entrepreneurs — with an economic project worth at least $136,000;
- outstanding talents.
To apply for a UAE Golden Visa, one must fulfil visa conditions, such as purchasing real estate, investing, or owning an economic project. Then, it is needed to prepare all the necessary documents, undergo a medical checkup and come to the UAE to apply for the visa. The whole process takes around 6 months.
Minimum expenses are $136,000 for entrepreneurs. Public and real estate investors spend at least $545,000 for a UAE Golden Visa.
Dubai Golden Visa benefits include a low crime rate, comparatively cheap real estate, widespread English language, high-quality healthcare and education, tax optimization and a stable economy.
UAE Golden Visa is valid for 10 years if the applicant makes a public investment or falls under outstanding talents. Entrepreneurs and real estate investors can be granted a 5-year Golden Visa.
Family members can receive the UAE Golden Visa with the main applicant.
Dubai Golden Visa is a second name for the UAE Golden Visa. It is a long-term visa granted to investors, entrepreneurs and outstanding talents for 5 or 10 years. It allows applicants to live, work and study in the country.