UAE Business Visa - Golden Visa system details 2024

The Golden Visa System includes a UAE business visa which foreigners and their dependants can apply for and obtain a long-term visa in UAE. An eligible candidate for this visa scheme is an entrepreneur that has established their own business at some stage in their career and plans to open another such business in the UAE.


What is a UAE business visa

A UAE business visa is a visa scheme for foreign entrepreneurs who are aiming to open up a business in UAE. This scheme is part of the Golden Visa System and allows the entrepreneur to apply and obtain a long-term visa for themselves and their dependants. The main purpose of introducing this visa scheme was to boost UAE’s economic development by creating an appealing environment for the prospective entrepreneurs.



The long-term UAE residency visa comes with a 10-year validity and a 5-year validity. The 10-year visa costs a mere 1150 AED whereas the 5-year visa costs 650 AED.

This visa scheme does not require the entrepreneur to make any financial donation to the state. A 5-year residence permit will be granted if the individual invests 5 million AED or more in a UAE property. Whereas a 10-year residence visa is given to individuals who have achieved any of the following:

  • Made a deposit of 10 million AED or more in any UAE-based investment fund; OR
  • Set up a business in the UAE with a capital worth 10 million AED or more; OR
  • Having a share value of 10 million AED or more by partnering with a new or existing company; OR
  • A total investment of 10 million AED or more in any of the mentioned sectors with a condition that investment in sectors (except for real estate) is nothing below 60% of the total investment.



Entrepreneurs of any nationality are eligible to apply for the business visa, regarded they have entrepreneurial experience. An individual who is considered as an eligible entrepreneur for this visa is anyone who has initiated a business during his career and wants to initiate a business in the UAE.

To obtain an application for this visa, the applicant must:
  • Prove their experience as an entrepreneur
  • have been a member of a start-up’s senior leadership or a major shareholder of it
  • Agree to shift to the UAE and establish the business legally in any of UAE’s seven Emirates
  • Have a business plan that you wish to initiate in the UAE.

Additionally, applicants should fulfill the requirements that are laid out by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) and agree for a health evaluation and background check.

However, it is not guaranteed that an individual will receive the visa solely because he qualifies for a business visa. The approval to issue a business visa is given by a specialized committee that reviews the application and all the attached documents. After receiving an approval for the business visa, the applicant has to adhere to the rules and procedures set out by the FAIC for the visa to get issued.


Covid - 19 updates

  • May 13, 2020
    1. DHA's frontline medical workers who offered their service during the COVID 19 are to receive a 10 year visa
    ( Source : Gulf News)


How to apply & process

For the individual to be able to apply for a business visa, the need to get a nomination that has been approved by an incubator that is assisted by the UAE government (currently, AREA2071 in Dubai and HUB71 in Abu Dhabi). After your nomination has received an approval you will be requested to apply for the visa via the FAIC. The nomination procedure is mentioned beneath:

  • Head over to the website and register with a new account.
  • After your account has been verified, login and apply for nomination.
  • Submit your fully-filled application and wait for it to be reviewed. The reviewing process might take anywhere upto 30 days.
  • In case of a successful nomination, you will be given a link where you can upload the necessary supporting documents and complete your golden visa application.
  • In case of a rejected nomination, re-apply after 90 days.
  • If your nomination is not approved, please apply again after 90 days.

After a successful nomination you will be invited to complete the visa application via the FAIC website. After completion, you will get an email stating the procedures on how to receive your visa. If you are living out of the UAE, you will receive a 6 month visa to enter UAE, understand the environment and settle down. You will need to convert your temporary visa into your residency permit before the 6 month visa expires. For those who have applied for this business visa while living in UAE, you will receive a temporary 1 month visa and convert it into a residency permit before it gets expired.

In both scenarios, you can conveniently convert your temporary visas into residence permit at SERVICES1 in Dubai’s Emirates Tower or directly via the FAIC.



After the business visa has been issued, the applicant can:

  • Enter UAE for a six month period with a multiple entry visa to ease up the procedures of setting up the business.
  • Nominate a maximum of 3 senior staff of his business to receive residency.


Alternative options

Prior to applying for a business visa if you wish to visit UAE, you can choose to visit with a 30 days or 90 days single-entry UAE visa or multiple-entry UAE visa. If an extension is needed, it can be done in various ways, even without exiting UAE. The documents required are very few and the time taken to process the visa varies between 24 to 48 hours.


Free zone

The UAE free zones have not only been a fully-fledged online platform for Global resources but also a front-runner in company formation and business consultancy in UAE for more than a decade. This was initiated to assist entrepreneurs who have a business plan but no knowledge, experience or resources to take their concept to the next level and establish their business in UAE. The UAE free zones also include a customized advisory service that provides clear guidance to potential investors who are aiming to begin onshore or offshore operations in the UAE. Additionally, the UAE free zones also cover services like business registration, residency and visa permits, getting approvals for necessary documents, banking assistance and office set ups, to name a few. The expansive knowledge of initiating SMEs or larger business along with strategy consulting helps the business take a positive leap towards establishing a business without any hassle.

Packages starting from AED 10000 - 15000 per year (2700 USD – 4000 USD) ‎

  • Dubai South
  • International Free Zone Authority
  • Dubai Multi Commodities Center
  • Sharjah Airport Intl Free Zone
  • Sharjah Media City
  • Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone
  • Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone
  • Dubai Airport Free Zone
  • Dubai World Trade Centre
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone
  • Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone
  • Abu Dhabi Global Market
  • Twofour54
  • Industrial City of Abudhabi
  • Dubai Internet City
  • Dubai Academic City
  • Dubai Biotech Research Park
  • Dubai Car & Automotive City Free Zone
  • Dubai Design District
  • Gold and Diamond Park
  • Dubai Healthcare City
  • Dubai Industrial City
  • Dubai Intl Financial Centre
  • Dubai Knowledge Village
  • Dubai Media City
  • Dubai Outsource Zone
  • Dubai Studio City
  • Dubai Techno Park
  • Intl Media Production Zone
  • Hamriyah Free Zone
  • Ajman Free Zone
  • Fujairah Free Zone
  • Fujairah Creative City

If you are contemplating initiating a business in the UAE, there are various reasons why you should opt for a free zone.

Easy setup

The initial set up process is very easy in most free zones. The application process may vary from one free zone to another and is highly dependent on your business type and activity. Most of the time, basic documents like business paperwork and passport copies are required. Usually processing takes roughly between a week or two. Most free zones also provide virtual packages and flexi-desk that allows you to utilize the free zone address and facilities on an ad-hoc basis.

Tax and duty

The tax regime is one of the most appealing reasons to opt for a free zone. If your company is established in a free zone, it will benefit from 0% corporate/personal tax and be exempt from the VAT (which is currently at 5% for businesses not in the free zone). Also, free zone companies are able to trade without any currency restrictions and aren't compelled to pay the import/export tax.

Foreign ownership

Another advantage is the ability to retain foreign ownership if the company is established in the free zones. Usually, foreign entrepreneurs in UAE need to cooperate with a local partner to start up a business. However, for the businesses established in the UAE free zone the foreign entrepreneur will retain 100% ownership of the business.

Trading within the UAE

Businesses in the free zone are not authorized to directly trade with the local UAE market. This problem can be easily solved by either appointing a local distributor to distribute your products or services in the market for a specific fee or open up branches of your free zone established business throughout the UAE in later dates. If done so, the branch offices can be used to distribute and make business deals in the UAE mainland.

Support and assistance:

Free zone authorities assist throughout set up and continue to do so afterwards. Many free zones help in applying visas for not only shareholders but also applicable dependants (spouses, family or domestic staff). This assistance extends towards bank-related dealings like suggesting the most suitable bank, opening corporate bank accounts and more. Business advice and networking options are few of the ongoing business support offered by the free zones. You will be able to get access to startup hubs and growth initiatives to give your establishment a boost.


UAE Work visa

Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). It is the employer's responsibility to apply for a work permit with the necessary documents mentioned in the ministry website.As per Article 1 of Ministerial Decree No. 766 of 2015, an employee whose contract (limited or non-limited) was expired can obtain a new work permit by joining new employment.

An employee can obtain a new work permit for all limited and non-limited contracts if:
  • It is proved that the employer has not abided to the legal and contractual agreements, including failure to pay wages for over 60 days and more.
  • The employee reports to the ministry that the employer has not provided work due to the firm being inactive for more than two months and if this is confirmed by the MoHRE.
  • The final judgement in a labor case (which MoHRE referred to the Labor Court on the basis of a complaint) is in favor of the employee and the case includes outstanding salaries(below 2 months before service end) or early termination. If the employee is in UAE, the status has to be maintained until he transfers his residency to a new sponsor.

New permits for unskilled workers

A new permit can be issued if both parties (employee and employer) agree to terminating the contract during the mentioned term, provided the employee has completed a minimum 6 months of employment.

As per ministerial rules, a new permit can be issued to an employee who hasn't completed the 6 month benchmark if his employer has terminated him unfairly.

New permits for skilled workers

The minimum 6 months service for employer rule is waived off if the employee qualifies for the skill sets 1(a university degree), 2 (post-secondary diploma)or 3(highschool diploma) regulated by the ministerial rule and is applicable if the employee has fulfilled his commitments as per the contract.

Is there a maximum age limit for expatriates to get a work permit?

As per UAE’s Labour Law No. 8 of 1980, does not mention a specific age to terminate employment contracts on the basis of age. As per Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), a charge of 5000 AED every two years is fined for issuing an initial approval for a work permit for individuals who are 65 and above.

Procuring a work visa

The MoHRE and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) of the emirate in which a person is employed is responsible for issuing work visa. The first step of the process is to obtain a work permit for expatriate from MoHRE which allows the holder to enter UAE for work within the 2 month validity period (from date of issue).

Upon entering the UAE, the sponsoring company should make arrangements to complete medical testing, applying for UAE resident ID card, labour card and get the work residency permit stamp on passport within a duration of 60 days. The stamp on the passport implies that he is sponsored by the company he is working for. After this process is complete, the employee can sponsor family members and bring them to UAE. Read sponsoring family members to know more.

Offshore Work visas

To speed up the process of issuing work visas, MoHRE along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation have established offices outside the UAE. In these centers, employees can learn information about the terms and conditions of employment, their rights, duties and all privileges in a language they understand. This process ensures a better contractual understanding between employers and employees while minimising the chances of any fraudulent activities with regards to the employment contract after the employee arrives in UAE.