Dubai and the neighbouring emirates have long been viewed as a tax-free haven offering safe and comfortable living with a convenient central location that offers easy access to the rest of the world.
This region is home to about 8 million expats who live and work in the desert oasis for the tax-free income they earn, great job opportunities and the high quality of life afforded to them. Many of them are white-collar workers who want to raise their families in the region and also enjoy retirement here, even if it is only for a limited number of years.
A recent addition to the visa legislation in the UAE now allows expat workers, who meet the minimum criteria, to apply for residence visas that allow them to continue to live in the emirates after retirement.
This move is seen as an important boost for the region’s economy. These pensioners will contribute towards tourism by boosting local entertainment venues, attractions and activities – of which there are numerous – especially in Dubai.
There are many expats who are very excited at the prospect of staying in Dubai to take advantage of the safe environment and the dynamic nature of the community that make up Dubai. The UAE is also viewed as extremely convenient for international travel because it is quite accessible to the rest of the world due to its location, and has one of the largest air travel networks.
The banking industry is excited about this retirement visa because expats will keep their cash in local financial institutions. It will also encourage expats to contribute to the local economy in the long term. In addition, it will give an incentive to expats with high value assets to remain in this low taxed setting, and keep their money in local banks rather than transferring their funds to offshore banks.
The insurance sector also welcomes this move with enthusiasm. It is encouraging insurance companies in Dubai and the other emirates to create new innovative investment products that yield high returns in exchange of monthly premiums as more non-Emiratis take advantage of this visa.
The local UAE property market will also prosper as more expats invest in property for their families. This visa gives expats a longer term view for investment rather than simply returning to their country of origin with their wealth after their work contracts are completed.
For expats with established businesses and who own property in the UAE this visa is particularly beneficial because they don't have to be concerned anymore about how to exit their businesses or sell property when they reach retirement and are obligated to leave.
The visa is valid for five years after which it can be renewed for further five year periods, provided all the necessary criteria are still met.
The visa applicant can continue to work if they self-issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC). A No Objection Certificate for Visa is a legal document drafted and signed by the applicant stating that they are fully aware of and complying with all the requirements as per the criteria outlined for the retiree visa, and understand that they are entitled to remain in the UAE only while the visa is valid.
The eligibility criteria:
The retiree visa was introduced soon after the "Golden","Green" and "Freelance" visas were introduced.
The Golden visa is for eligible investors, entrepreneurs, researchers in various scientific and education fields, including talented students. It has recently been amended to include highly skilled managers, CEOs, experts in certain fields of science, engineering, health, education, business management and technology thus increasing the number of people who are eligible to apply.
The Green visa is one allows entrepreneurs and business owners to sponsor their children up to the age of twenty-five and their dependent parents.
The Freelance visa type grants business owners or self employed individuals residency status.
Students are also encouraged to study in the UAE by offering them a five-year residency visa and longer ten-year visas for those students who qualify as "exceptional students".
To encourage more foreign workers to move to Dubai after the global pandemic there is now also a virtual visa available, which aims at attracting remote workers. It was introduced in October 2020. Foreign professionals can now try Dubai "on for size" without leaving their employment in their home country.
The UAE has seen a steady growth in the expat population over the last few decades. At the last census they totalled a whopping 88.5% of the total population of the UAE. Great job offers, the easy lifestyle and liberal tax policies are some of the main reasons people flock to Dubai and the other emirates. And despite Covid-19 and recent travel difficulties, there was an increase in the population from the previous year.
The region is so ethnically diverse, with people coming from all corners of the globe to live and work in the UAE. This society is made up of 200 nationalities primarily from countries like India, Pakistan, Philippines, Iran and Egypt. The cosmopolitan nature of the emirates, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which are the most densely populated emirates, is a major drawcard for expats looking for a new home.
The highly publicized Expo 2020 that is ongoing in Dubai (postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic) is expected to draw even more people to its shores as it creates and showcases the widening scope of the job market there. It is projected that this extravagant expo will create an additional 270 000 new employment opportunities!
These are some of the reasons people might choose to retire in the emirates and call it home on a permanent basis, which is now possible thanks to the new "retirement" visa.
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