The UAE does not offer permanent residency or citizenship programmes. However a long-term residency is possible on a basis of residential visa. There are 4 types of residency visa; Employment, sponsor (or dependent visa), investor and residence (property owner) visa.
The maximum validity period for a residential visa is 3 years with possibility for an extension. Nonetheless this residential visa has a condition i.e., the holder must not be absent from UAE more than 180 days consecutively. Failure to do so would result in automatic cancellation.
Should you require a foreign employee to work for you in the, you will be required to obtain for his/her employment visa. All matters pertaining to the employment visa should be handled by the employer and it usually takes about 7-14 days to obtain the visa duly stamped on the passport. Additional time would be required to obtain the Emirates ID.
This type of residency will allow the holder to stay and live anywhere in the UAE.
Sponsor Visa (Dependent Visa)
When a person obtains a Visa (employment Visa or Investor visa) he is allowed to sponsor his family member’s (strictly limited to Spouse and Children). It takes approximately 7 to 14 days to obtain such visa. The validity depends on what type of visa the sponsor is holding. (Maximum issued are for 3 years visa)
Only shareholder of an onshore company are allowed to obtain an investor visa. The onshore company can be either a Free Zone Company or Local Non-free zone company (otherwise known as LLC).
It takes 3 – 4 weeks to process such visa including the time taken to incorporate the company (Free Zone Company or LLC). This also includes the issuance of Residency Permit. Depending on the type of company, the Visa is valid for 2 or 3 years.
Residence (property owner) Visa
If you are planning on acquiring a property valued at least AED1 Million (equivalent to USD 272,000) in UAE, you will be eligible to apply for a residence visa. This type of visa is strictly limited and not for working in UAE. It allows you to live in UAE and to open bank account. In order to work in UAE, an additional document called Labor Card will need to be applied. This document will be issued upon provision of signed employment contract with a UAE company.
The maximum validity of the residence visa is 2 years. The validity period would depend on the location where the property is purchased.