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Ajman, Dubai, RAK residence visa for property owners

Wednesday 16 January 2019 (UAE)   

Dubai property owner residence visa

This is the old Dubai residence visa for property owners information, and is no longer valid (left here for reference only). See the new UAE property visa information, effective 01 June 2009.

If you own property in Dubai, Ajman, or Ras Al Khaimah then you are probably entitled to apply for a UAE residency visa, valid for up to 3 years. There are some conditions and restrictions though.

Residency visas were put on hold or suspended in around mid-2008 for most/all Dubai and Ajman property purchases - check with the master developer or the relevant government authority (RERA in Dubai), don't take the word of the real estate agent or property developer as some have been issuing misleading advertisements about the residence visa eligibility. Ras Al Khaimah property purchases may still allow application for a residency visa.

  • The residency visa is only available to the first named owner of the property (consider which name to put first if it's a joint purchase).
  • The residency visa is not available until after the property is completed and the owner has obtained the title deeds.
  • You can only apply for a residency visa under this scheme if you don't have any other way of obtaining a residency visa.
  • There will be a charge (about 5000 dhs in January 2008) for the residency visa application. For that, the master developer (Emaar, Nakheel in Dubai for example) makes the application on your behalf. That's not something you have a choice about.
  • Owning a property does not guarantee successful application for a UAE residency visa. The immigration department in the relevant emirates decides that, not the property developer.
  • The residency visa only entitles you to live in the UAE, not to work - you still need to apply for a UAE labour card or work permit for employment (normally your employer would do this if you had a job).
  • Expat residents can still be deported for the normal deportation reasons.
  • In mid-2008 there was a report that residence visas in Dubai could be applied for before completion of property but no further information found to confirm that. Treat with skepticism any comments from property agents that indicate you can do this. The Gulf News 06 June 2008 reported that "Bin Mizaina said that the master developer can apply for residency visas as soon as a property is bought and a contract is signed with buyer", referring to Omar Mattar Bin Mizaina, head of employment permits section at DNRD. It's not clear why the Gulf News was asking the employment permits section of the DNRD about residence visas.
  • In mid-2008, the whole residence visa with property thing was in a state of flux in Dubai, due mostly to property developers and real estate agents misleading customers by advertising a "guaranteed residence visa" with property purchases, when there was no way they could "guarantee" a visa. Some developers have put applications on hold, and some reports say that authorities are no longer issuing residence visas on this basis. Get information from either the DNRD or the master property developer before committing to a purchase if your decision depends on whether or not you are eligible for a residence visa. Treat whatever a real estate agent or developer says (other than the master developer - and even then be careful) with a pinch of salt.
  • Later in 2008, Ajman said they would not be renewing residence visas for property owners upon expiry.
  • In early 2009 there were unconfirmed indications that Emaar were still, or had restarted, applying for residence visas for Dubai property owners in Emaar developments. Realistically, it didn't sound like something to count on.
  • In February 2009 there were reports that the UAE Federal Government was going to announce a 6 month residence visa for property owners anywhere in the UAE that allowed foreign ownership of real estate.

Foreign or expat property owners in Abu Dhabi are not eligible for a property owner's residence visa except possibly for some developments by Sorouh Real Estate - check directly with Sorouh for details (not a property agent).

Employment while on a Dubai property residence visa
  • A UAE residence visa permit is exactly that - a permit to live in the UAE. It does not entitle holders to work in the UAE (nor does any other type of residence visa). Living and working are not the same thing. To be permitted to work in the UAE, one needs a work permit which is a different document. The residence visa is a piece of paper stamped in the holder's passport. The employment permit is a small labour card issued separately.
  • Dubai residence permits are issued by the Dubai immigration authority. Work permits are issued by the UAE Ministry of Labour.
  • Just as with spouse residence permits, student residence permits, investor resident permits, they are all residence visas that allow the holder to live in the UAE. If the holder wants to work, then their potential employer must apply for a separate work permit from the Labour department.
  • In simple terms, any "What if ..." type question about UAE visas for work and residence can be answered by asking two questions.
    1. Does the applicant want to live in the UAE? If yes, they need a residence permit from the immigration department.
    2. Does the applicant want to work in the UAE? If yes, then they need a work permit from the labour department.
  • Note that the words visa, card, or permit are often used interchangeably. Similarly for the words job, employment, work, labour.
Property owners right to a Dubai property residence visa?
  • On 06 June 2008, the Gulf News in Dubai carried a story with the encouraging (for property owners) headline "Property buyers 'have right to residence visa'" followed by the comments (no mincing of words here) that "Developers must provide facility to freehold owners, says DNRD. Freehold property buyers are fully entitled to residence visas, a senior government official has confirmed, quashing widespread confusion among homebuyers in the UAE. Officials at Dubai's Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) have confirmed that anyone who buys a freehold property in the emirate is entitled to residence in Dubai through the master-developer."
  • But it seems like the DNRD said nothing of the sort, and did not confirm the quashing of confusion. The nearest supporting quote in the report was from Omar Mattar Bin Mizaina, the head of employment permits section at DNRD, who said " Anyone who buys a property can get a residence visa in Dubai."
  • Why the head of an unrelated department at the DNRD was commenting on the issue, and why the Gulf News thought Mr Bin Mizaina was a sufficiently authoritative official representative of the DNRD to justify the headline, are questions that were not answered.
  • And anyway, someone saying "can" is usually understood to mean it is a possibility, not a right.
  • Dubai property owners' confusion remains unquashed.
Last update Friday 05-Mar-2010
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