United Arab Emirates (UAE) has granted its Golden Visa of 10 years to an Indian student from Kerala. This is the first time the coveted visa has been given to a non-celebrity or high net-worth individual.
As per the news reports in UAE, Tasneem Aslam from Kerala was awarded the Golden Visa in the exceptional student category. She is allowed to stay in the UAE till 2031. She was reportedly awarded this visa for her “merit and excellent academic credentials.” Tasneem has studied Islamic Sharia from Al Qasimia University in Sharjah and graduated with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.94 on a scale of 4.
In 2019, the government of UAE approved a new visa regime which allowed the foreigners to study and work in UAE without needing a national sponsor. The Golden Visa of five or ten years is generally awarded to investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talent, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students. The visa is automatically renewed after five and ten years.
High school and university students with exceptional merit are eligible for a 5-year residency visa in the UAE. Exceptional merit includes high school students who rank top in the country (a minimum grade of 95 per cent) and students from certain universities with a GPA of 3.75 (on scale of 4) or higher upon graduation.
As per the expanded eligibility rules in 2020, doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists might be granted the 10 year visa after accreditations by their respective departments and fields. If granted, this visa will also be extended to the applicant’s spouses and children. The scientists applying for the Golden Visa must be accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council or should be holders of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence. Individuals in the culture and art sector must be accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development. Proof of exceptional talent must be documented in the form of patents or scientific research published in a world-class journal. Furthermore, doctors and specialists must have a PhD degree from one of the top 500 universities in the world.
Investors having net public investment worth of at least 10million UAE Dirham (AED) are eligible to apply for the 10 year Golden Visa. The investment can be either in the form of a fund or a company. For a 5 years visa, the requirement is at least AED 5million. Additional requirements regarding forms of investment, terms of retention, and ownership are applicable.
The 2019 reforms in the visa regime were meant to attract the foreign talent to the UAE. The long term visa also brings a sense of security since the entrepreneurs and business are allowed to keep 100 percent ownership of their business. Interested individuals can apply for the Golden Visa through the website of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship — ICA (the eChannel for residency and citizenship) through either online or offline channels. General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) also accepts applications for the offline channels.
In a bid to attract foreign students, the UAE has also amended its residency laws, allowing foreign university students to bring their families with them to the UAE. As long as the foreign students can afford the additional cost of family members and have suitable accommodation, their family members can stay.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE government in October 2020 launched a residency program for the foreign professionals who are working from home. This program allows the foreign professionals to work from the UAE while working for their employers in their home country.
In September 2020, the UAE launched a retirement visa for the residents over 55 years. As per the 2018 UAE cabinet decision, a retiree will be eligible for a 5-year renewable retirement visa if the retiree invests in a property worth AED 2 million, or has financial savings of no less than AED 1 million, or has an active income of no less than AED 20,000 per month.
The prominent personalities to have received UAE’s golden visa include Sanjay Dutt, Cristiano Ronaldo, Novack Djokovic.