Tim Elliot: Welcome to Lawgical, the U.A.E.’s first legal podcast. My name’s Tim Elliot. Lawgical comes to you from the 18th floor of the Dubai-based legal firm’s offices, and that is HPL Yamalova & Plewka. As ever, the Managing Partner is Ludmila Yamalova. She is with me. Good to see you.
Ludmila Yamalova: Good to see you too, Tim.
Tim Elliot: We’re talking visas again today, this time another category of visas, a new category, five-year multiple entry visas. So many new visas available online. You said in another recent podcast, Ludmila, we could probably do 20 podcasts. I challenge you on that. We can do 40 with the number of changes we have seen.
Ludmila Yamalova: I accept the challenge.
Tim Elliot: I thought you might. It is hard keeping up. This time, the five-year multiple entry visa, and it is important for lots of different reasons, but let’s start with, who is this aimed at?
Ludmila Yamalova: I guess to many, many different types of people, one category, perhaps the one that comes to mind first, is for family members, family members of those residents who live in the U.A.E. Let’s face it, one, the majority of us here in the U.A.E. are expats, which means, most of us, have family and friends elsewhere. Two, as we all know and are very proud of, Dubai and particularly in the U.A.E. in general is a very attractive place for a lot of people to want to come to visit and they want to come to visit on a regular basis. It is a pretty attractive destination and therefore we have, all of a sudden, a lot of friends who want to come visit and not once, but multiple times, especially if you live here on a long-term basis, and we are talking about your family or close friends, they do come often. But depending on what nationality you hold, what passport you hold, your options of coming into the U.A.E. and also the duration of the stay here were fairly limited in relevant terms. That is one category. We will go through what it means now, but in terms of who would be interested it is family and friends.
Also, business investors, those who have investments here. The investors could be shareholders of companies, or they could have real estate investment here. They are not based here per se, so therefore they don’t necessarily need to have a residence visa. Also, because historically and still to an extent today, if you have a residence visa in the U.A.E. you are required to come back into the U.A.E. every six months in order to maintain that visa. Therefore, for those who have real estate here or a company, it would have been easy enough for them to have a residence visa here on the back of their real estate or the back of owning a company, but there is still this requirement of coming every six months or twice a year into the U.A.E. to make sure the visa remains intact. For a lot of people who were not based here, that presented an issue because they were not always here exactly every six months, so therefore a lot of them did not have a residence visa at all, but every time they would have to come back into the country they would have to apply for visit visas. There are also those people.
Then obviously tourists. There could be tourists who just want to come and love the U.A.E. but they don’t really know anybody here. We know for a fact for many neighboring countries, and there are many neighboring countries that are close enough to the U.A.E., especially because of emirates Airlines, let’s say Europeans, they love to come to the U.A.E. every winter. For a lot of European families, this was their annual destination, if not twice a year. Similarly, from India and Iran, people love to come here for holidays, not simply to visit family and friends, but just holidays. Once again, this particular visa would be very appealing to that category of people.
There are also other people that might be interested in wanting to have his option. At the end of the day, it is for those who frequent the U.A.E. often, who like it either because they have got some interest here or they just like coming here, and also they like to come here for perhaps more than just 30 days, or they want to come for, let’s say, 10 days and then leave and then come back five days later. It’s also good for those who transit through the U.A.E.
For example, you came here for 15 days and then you went back to Thailand. You were coming from Europe and you flew to Dubai and you stayed here for 10 days and then you flew to Thailand for 10 days, and then you wanted to come back here again for a week. In the past, you would not have been able to do this because (1) your visa was a single entry visa and (2) you could not apply for a new visa until a certain period of time had passed between your previous visa that would end and your new visa. It was quite restrictive. The past regulations would not allow for these people to use Dubai or the U.A.E. as a hub between their different travels. That is just another category of people with interests in the five-year multiple visa.
Tim Elliot: I think we’ve gotten to the 40 podcasts in this podcast. You’re absolutely right. The U.A.E. and in particular, Dubai and the Dubai International Airport, is a hub. We talk about Dubai being a hub. All of these new categories of visas facilitate the fact that Dubai is a stop off point. To add to that, if you’re looking for a holiday in the sun, Dubai is pretty hard to beat.
Ludmila Yamalova: Indeed. It’s not just the sun, but it’s the convenience that exists here, along with the sun, the infrastructure, the options, safety, and the ease of travel, and the ease of being here. English is the primary language, and there are so many other languages spoken here. To a lot of people, that’s a big factor. When you come to visit a country, you want to feel comfortable, you want to be understood, you want to be able to communicate. There are so many types of hotels as well throughout the U.A.E., so more or less for people of different needs and different financial abilities. There is something for everybody.
Tim Elliot: There really is. Let’s get back to the five-year multiple entry visa. Just a couple of things I want to clear up. There is no host or guarantor needed for this, so it’s a self-sponsorship visa once again, I gather, but what requirements are there financially to get this?
Ludmila Yamalova: Yes. This is very important. Unlike the previous tourist visas where you always had an invitation from someone, this would have been an invitation from a travel agency, or from a hotel, or somebody who is based here, and therefore you would have had a sponsor. This sponsor could have been a family member, or it could have been a travel agency. But in most cases, you needed some sort of a guarantor sponsor. In this case, as you rightfully said, this is a self-sponsored visa, so no sponsor is required. You are your own boss. You are on a self-sponsored visa, and it is a five-year visa, multiple entries. To qualify for this, because it is a self-sponsored visa, you have to also show that you have the financial ability to sustain yourself in the U.A.E. Now, what is that? Basically, that is a bank balance of $4,000 or its equivalent in your bank account. That is basically sufficient proof for the U.A.E. to qualify you for this kind of visa and that you will be able to sustain yourself in the country for these tourist trips. To prove this, you have to show proof, basically a bank statement in the last six months. Also, this would not work for someone who borrowed $4,000 and put it in your account and then applying based on that. You do need to submit bank statements for the last six months and ultimately the requirement is not to see that you have $4,000 every month coming into your account, but rather that you have a balance of at least $4,000 in your account that is more or less regular. If you have that, the authorities here, for them that is sufficient evidence to feel comfortable that this means you can come into this country, have this visa, benefit from this visa, and benefit from this country without having to worry that you will not be able to take care of yourself financially.
Tim Elliot: Okay. And you can stay in the U.A.E. on this visa for up to 90 days at a time, I am reading. Could that be extended?
Ludmila Yamalova: Yes. So, 90 days it itself is a pretty big change. This applies to everybody in that respect. Once you apply for this visa, it is no longer based on your nationality as was the case before. Now when you have this kind of visa, every time the default duration of stay is 90 days for everyone who has this visa, and it can be extended, indeed, for similar periods of time, not to exceed 180 days each time in one year. That means, I mean think about it, on this particular visa, you can be in this country for up to six months in one year, and that’s pretty cool. In particular, because it is multiple entries, which means you can really use this, as you said earlier, as a hub. This could be your base, and you want to go and jump to Saudi Arabia for two weeks, you go to Thailand for a week, you go to Nepal for a weekend, and so on and so forth, and you can continue to come back here and use this as a hub without having to worry about extending the visa, granting the visa, paying late penalties, or re-applying again and again. Really, this is truly one of a kind and the first of its kind in the country, and it absolutely will be an incredibly attractive option for many visitors.
Tim Elliot: It will. Just one thing I think is worth pointing out. There is no permission to work in the U.A.E. while you have one of these multiple entry visas.
Ludmila Yamalova: Indeed. That, by the way, is a part for this particular visa because it is a tourist visa. It’s not a working visa, as is the case, for example, with the job seekers visa or the probation visa. This is purely for tourist purposes. You are absolutely right. You need to be mindful of you have the benefit of coming and going to this country for five years with this kind of visa, but this does not give you the right to work.
Tim Elliot: Okay. We have talked at some length about the different visa categories that we have seen introduced in recent months, once again, in line with U.A.E. immigration law, Cabinet Resolution 65 of 2022 and Article 15 in particular, the new five-year entry visas in the U.A.E. That is another episode of Lawgical. Ludmila Yamalova is the Managing Partner here at Yamalova & Plewka, our legal expert. Thank you.
Ludmila Yamalova: Thank you, Tim.
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