Visas for property investors

Can you get a residency visa if you buy a property in Dubai?
Heard stories about the possibility of obtaining a residency visa with the purchase of a property in Dubai but have no idea what this entails?

Well, you’re not alone. There is still much confusion around this topic (especially since the rules have changed a few times over the years!) as to whether this is even possible, what type of visas are available, how long they last for, as well as the requirements and restrictions. Below we outline all you need to know about the options that are available to you.

Types of Visas
The first thing to note is that there are two types of visas granted to property investors in Dubai – The Property Investor Visa and the Six Months Residency Visa. There are some key distinctions to note:
The Property Investor Visa is issued by the Dubai Land Department and is a two-year renewable visa. With this visa, you become a UAE resident meaning you can obtain an Emirates ID, UAE driving license and sponsor family as well. This visa is only available for Dubai property investments, however.
The Six Months Residency Visa on the other hand is issued by the relevant Immigration authority and is a six months multi-entry visa. This is effectively a visitor visa that allows multiple entries to the UAE. The key benefit to this is that it applies to property purchases in all seven Emirates.

Property Value
Both visa options require that the property value must be Dh1 million or more. This is based on the purchase price on the title deed rather than the current property value when applying for the visa.
If a property is jointly owned (for example, husband and wife ownership), the shared value must exceed Dh1 million. This Dh1 million is also only applied to one title deed so you cannot consolidate all of your investments in order to try to obtain an investor visa.

Property Location and Status
The property must be completed as the title deed (in the name of the applicant) is one of the main requirements. Visas for off plan properties are not possible. The respective visas also only apply to freehold properties.

Property Type
Only residential properties are permitted for the purposes of the visas. Commercial projects are not allowed. In addition to this, the added requirement is that the property must be “habitable” – in other words, it must be in a good condition and suitable for someone to live in.

The Property Investor Visa costs approximately Dh13,000-Dh15,000; with the higher end being inclusive of the police clearance letter (Dh220), administration fees (Dh420), application costs (Dh3,000), typing and entry permit (Dh1,100), DED license issuance (Dh 8,440) and stamping/Emirates ID/medical (Dh2,490). There are also additional costs for the renewal and for sponsoring any spouses or dependents (Dh5,000-6,000).
The Six Month Residency Visa costs considerably less (approximately Dh2,300). However, this visa must be renewed every six months (Dh1,100 each time) so it can still add up. Again, fees apply for sponsorship of family and renewals (Dh250).

Minimum Income
There is a minimum income requirement of Dh10,000 per month (or equivalent currency), which can be derived from inside or outside the UAE. The applicant must provide proof of income as part of the criteria.

Documents Needed
Provided you satisfy the above requirements, you will then be in a position to apply for your respective visa at either the Dubai Land Department or relevant immigration authority. These documents will be needed:

(1) Title Deed on the property
(2) Passport copy of the applicant
(3) Current visa status/copy
(4) Passport photos (x6)
(5) Certificate of Good Conduct (from Dubai Police)
(6) Bank Statements
(7) Utility Bill

Things to Note
Neither visa option provides citizenship to the UAE
An in-country medical examination is required
Employment is not possible as they are purely for residency purposes only
There is no maximum term – but the investor on the Property Investor Visa must not spend more than six consecutive months outside of Dubai

So which is best?
The Six Month Residency Visa is the simpler and cheaper option however it comes with notable restrictions. Firstly, it needs to be renewed every six months making it quite costly for the rights that it affords. The investor also has to exit and re-enter the country for such purposes. It is in effect a visit visa only making it very restricted. The key benefit is however that it applies for all emirates, unlike the Property Residency Visa that only applies to property purchases in Dubai.

The Property Investor Visa is a much broader option and gives the investor much greater scope. It is valid for two years and doesn’t require the investor to exit before this period. It also grants residency, an Emirates ID and the opportunity to obtain a UAE driving license. This comes at a price however as this option is considerably more expensive, has a stricter application process, with more paperwork required as well as much lengthier processing times (can take more than one month).

As to which is best? It really depends on individual circumstances, such as your nationality, your intentions, your budget, your property location etc. These are all factors to be taken into consideration. The Six Months Residency Visa is the cheaper option of the two, however, the Property Investor Visa does perhaps provide more bang for your buck as it affords much more extensive rights as a resident rather than those limited rights of a visitor under the Six Months Residency Visa. The choice however is yours.

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