Dubai and UAE Gold Card Visa: Understanding the Eligibility List

golden visa uae

In May 2019, the Emirati government implemented a new system for those seeking to live in the UAE as residents for longer terms than previously permitted under the law. Shortly after the scheme’s launch by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, more than 400 businessmen and investors (along with some of their family members), had already gotten issued a UAE golden visa. So, what does this scheme entail? Why is it “golden"? We’re taking a closer look. 


But first, what is gold card residency in the UAE?

When announcing the visa class, Sheikh Mohammed defined the UAE Gold Card for permanent residency as “a permanent residency for investors and exceptional workers in the fields of health, engineering, science and art". The first of these permanent residency cards went to Yusuff Ali, an Indian entrepreneur who’s the Chairman of Lulu Group and has the distinction of being dubbed the king of hypermarkets in the Middle East. Other famous Gold Card recipients include global football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and other top footballers Didier Drogba and Paul Pogba. 

The UAE Gold Card permanent residency scheme is a long-term visa for the UAE that lasts for ten years. While initial language surrounding the system made it appear that it did not require renewals, the UAE’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs clarified that it’s a ten-year visa that gets renewed. 


Eligibility for gold residency card in the UAE 

There are two primary classifications for eligibility for those seeking a ten-year residency visa: investors or people with specialised talents. Each of these categories also spreads to their spouses and dependents. 

Qualifying as an investor has three different options: first, you can deposit at least 10 million dirhams into an Emirati investment fund. Another option is to partner with an existing company with a share of at least 10 million dirhams or initiate new company formation with at least 10 million dirhams in capital. Is there a catch? First, an investor’s real estate investments should be no less than 60% of the total investment. Investors are also not allowed to have any of the amount held as a loan, and they must prove that they hold onto the investment for at least three years and have at least 10 million dirhams in solvency, with a minimum share of 10 million dirhams. 

As for specialised talents, this category consists of top minds, inventors, scientists and researchers in medicine, science and creatives in culture and the arts. How do the Emirati authorities deem someone to hold a specialised talent? The conditions are as follows:

  • Inventors must have a patent providing value to the Emirati economy while possessing the appropriate Ministry of Economy seal. 

  • Scientists must either hold the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence or have Emirates Scientists Council accreditation.

  • Doctors and specialists have to meet at least two of the following conditions:

    • Hold a PhD from one of the world’s top 500 universities.

    • Hold a PhD and have at least ten years of professional experience.

    • Specialisation in areas the UAE deems a priority.

    • Hold certificates of appreciation or an award in their field.

    • Contributed to significant scientific research in their discipline

    • Published scientific books or papers in distinguished publications in their area.

    • Belong to an organisation that relates to their field.

  • Exceptional talents need documentation in the form of scientific research published in world-class journals or patents.

  • Executives must either own a leading, globally-recognised enterprise or hold a high academic achievement level and position. 

Sheikh Mohammed announced expanded eligibility in November 2020 to include all PhD holders and physicians. Others who will benefit from this expanded criteria are Big Data and AI experts and some scientists. Top high school leavers and their families will also be eligible, along with university students with at least a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale. People hailed the expanded eligibility as significant for R&D and medicine’s future in the UAE.  

If you don’t meet either of these categories, there are five-year visa options available. You can find more information about the qualifying criteria for real estate investors, outstanding students and entrepreneurs here

Gold Card UAE benefits for residency

Should you meet the above criteria, numerous perks make the Gold Card appealing as a long-term visa option in the UAE. While there are some procedures you will have to carry out between ten-year periods and hold health insurance, there are no other conditions for renewal eligibility. Gold Card residency holders do not have to enter the UAE every six months. Plus, in contrast to standard residency visas, gold cardholders in the UAE can be out of the country for more than six months. You must continue to satisfy the terms and conditions of the initial visa. 

Are you eligible for a Gold Card and wish to apply?

The Gold Card’s initial rollout signified a big step forward for the Emirati government. Its leaders proved their openness towards economic growth and innovation and foreign direct investment and company formation in core industries. The move also proves their concern over their ex-pat residents’ well-being and comfort in the country. It allows them to have more stability compared to standard short-term visas tied to employers. 

If you would like to apply for one of these coveted UAE Gold Card visas for permanent residency, or the five-year options, our Dubai and UAE visa and residency team has everything you need to gain approval successfully. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. 


Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group 

Citizenship, Residency and Relocation Services
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