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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The UAE is inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to set up home in the country after rolling out a new 'golden card' business visa.
The government is courting professionals who have prior experience of operating companies as part of an ongoing drive to bolster the nation's talent pool and turn it into a hub for start-ups.
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship is accepting online applications for the five-year, renewable visa.
About 6,800 investors and residents from 70 countries and collectively worth an estimated Dh100 billion were initially selected to receive the golden card, a ten-year, renewable visa.
They included Firoz Merchant, a self-made millionaire and founder of jewellery business Pure Gold, who was granted long-term residency status along with his wife, two children and extended family.
At the time, Mr Merchant said he was honoured and proud to accept the “huge privilege”.
He said opening up applications to people around the world will build investor confidence and boost the economy.
“It is a great opportunity which should not be lost, the entire business and investor community will benefit from it,” he said.
“The UAE is one of the best countries in the world. Its multicultural, residents from East and West enjoy world class facilities the country offers in every field – healthcare, education, better lifestyle etc. Over and above all, it provides safety and security.”
Other high-profile recipients of the long-term visa include Dr BR Shetty, the founder of NMC Healthcare and financial technology start-up Finablr, Yusuff Ali, chairman and managing director of Lulu Group and Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman of VPS Healthcare.
Being able to prove you have set up a business in the past is a prerequisite, but successful candidates must fufill a range of criteria.
It is a great opportunity which should not be lost
They include previous experience as a majority shareholder of a startup or a member of its senior leadership, and having a business idea or plan to bring to the UAE. Successful candidates must also pass a background check and health assessment.
Entrepreneurs can apply for nomination by visiting the business visa website. If approved, candidates must send a series of documents. Once verified, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will issue the visa.
The authority said applications will be reviewed within 30 days.
The holder is then permitted to enter the country for a period of up to six months on a multiple entry visa in order to set up the business.
The visa can be converted into a residency permit thereafter. The original business visa holder can nominate three of their senior staff to obtain the residency too, and all visa holders are permitted to sponsor their dependents, subject to conditions and requirements set out by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
The golden card was initially billed as a permanent residence system but the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has since clarified that it is in fact renewable.
Visas will be renewed as long as residents continued to satisfy the terms and conditions under which they were granted the visa.
Renewal applications by investors who decreased in worth or ran businesses that failed in the period would be looked at on a case to case basis.
Golden card holders can travel freely as there is no minimum requirement for staying in the UAE – for example, if the golden card carrier leaves the UAE for longer than six months, their visa would still be valid.
Updated: December 17, 2019 03:19 PM
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