The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a federation of seven emirates in the Arabian Peninsula, is an exciting destination for US citizens. The country has everything you could possibly want, from sprawling beaches to ancient monuments. The best part is that there is no need to get a UAE visa for US citizens if the stay is shorter than a month.
However, if you want to stay longer or work in the UAE, you’ll need a visa to do so. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about getting a visa for the UAE as a US citizen, what you need to provide the authorities, and how to apply for it.
Different Visa Categories
US citizens don’t need to apply for a visa when visiting the UAE if the stay is shorter than a month. However, there are different visa categories depending on your purpose of travel and the length of your stay.
Tourist Visa: US citizens get a visa on arrival, valid for 30 days. If you wish to stay in the UAE for longer than a month, you must request more time from the immigration officer at the airport or contact the local immigration office in the UAE and request an extension. You also need to provide a round-trip airline ticket and have a passport valid for at least six months.
Work Visas: There are three kinds of visas for working in the UAE. The Green Visa is a self-sponsored visa that lets you work in the UAE for up to five years. This visa is for freelancers, self-employed, and skilled employees. The Standard work visa is valid for up to two years and is for people employed in the private or government sector. While those visas are the most popular, there is also a domestic worker visa.
Retirement Visas: If you are older than 55 years and have worked for more than 15 years, you can apply for a residency visa for retirees. The initial visa is valid for five years and can be extended if you meet the criteria.
Golden Visa: As with most other countries, the UAE’s Golden Visa program is a long-term residence visa that allows you to live, work and study in the Gulf country. The visa is valid for five or 10 years.
Diplomatic or Official Visas: This visa is restricted to US diplomats and government officials. You’ll need to complete the application form, provide the details of the sponsor or host in the UAE, give the residential address in UAE, and an original letter from one of the US departments explaining the purpose of the trip.
Transit Visas: Available to non-US citizens traveling from the US, these visas are valid for 96 hours and allow you to enter the UAE while you wait for your connecting flight to a different country.
A Closer Look at UAE Visas for US Citizens
Green Visa for work
Depending on your profession, there are different criteria for working in the UAE. Generally, however, the Green Visa is a residency document that lets you stay in the country for up to five years, and you don’t need to be sponsored or employed by a UAE citizen.
Freelancers or self-employed people
- You’ll need a freelance or self-employment permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- proof of a bachelor’s degree or a specialized diploma
- evidence of annual income from self-employment for the previous two years amounting to not less than AED 360,000, or proof of financial solvency throughout their stay in the UAE.
- You must have a valid employment contract
- Be classified in the first, second, or third occupational level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation
- Hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- Have a salary of not less than AED 15,000 per month.
Standard work visa
- You must be employed in the private or government sector
- Your UAE employer must apply on your behalf.
The UAE’s retirement visa is similar to Portugal’s D7 visa. It lets you live in the UAE for up to five years and can be extended if you satisfy the criteria.
- You must be older than 55 years or,
- have worked for not less than 15 years inside or outside the UAE
- own a property of no less than AED 1 million or,
- have financial savings of no less than AED 1 million or,
- have a monthly income of AED 20,000
- Provide bank statements for the last six months.
Golden Visa for UAE
The UAE Golden Visa is a long-term residency program that offers eligible applicants, such as talented individuals, real estate investors, and business owners, the opportunity to live, work, or study in the United Arab Emirates.
The program provides several benefits, including a renewable five to ten-year residence permit, no requirement to obtain a resident or national sponsor, a reduced minimum stay requirement compared to other visa options, the ability to sponsor family members and domestic helpers, and zero personal income taxes.
General visa requirements
The requirements for the UAE Golden Visa system depend on the applicant’s professional background. However, there are several minimum requirements that all prospective applicants must meet, which are:
- Be over 18
- Provide a notarized copy of their passport
- Have a clean criminal record
- Be clear of all socially dangerous illnesses
- Have valid medical insurance
Visa requirements for real estate investors
Foreign nationals who own real estate in the United Arab Emirates may be granted a renewable residence visa valid for ten years. The requirement to get a UAE Golden Visa as a real estate investor is that:
- The applicant can present the provision of a letter from the Department of Land and Property of the respective emirate national stating that they own one or more properties in the UAE to the value of no less than two million UAE Dirhams (about $545,000)
- A permission letter from the Dubai land department or other emirate where the property is located
A property can be purchased with a loan of no more than 50 percent of the property’s value from specific local banks approved by a competent local entity, such as the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. A Dubai Golden Visa for real estate investors provides a ten-year residency visa.
Visa requirements for investors
Foreign investors have three types of investments besides real estate eligible under the Golden UAE residence visa program–investor (partner), bank deposit, and tax collection. The requirements to obtain a residence visa under one of these options are as follows:
- The trade permit with the partner’s appendix
- The financial report of the establishment/s for the last tax year
- A verified certificate from the free zone (business jurisdiction) that includes all the investor’s financial information
- A financial statement of the establishment for the last six months
- The registration document from the Federal Tax Authority in the UAE stating that the company’s transactions amount to no less than AED 100,000 (about $27,000) annually
- Proof of property ownership (if applicable)
- Present documentation proving an AED two million deposit in a UAE bank account such as First Abu Dhabi Bank and prove that the investor owns the invested capital completely. It may be a UAE-accredited investment fund by the Ministry of Finance or Sukuk.
- Proof of residence in the Emirate of Dubai
- Documentation from the Federal Tax Authority confirming partnership in one or several establishments and proof of taxes paid to the UAE government; Annual tax contributions must be no less than AED 250,000 (about $68,000).
- A valid commercial license with the partner’s appendix
Other Golden Visa Categories
Other than the two methods outlined above, there are a few more ways to get a valid visa under the long-term residency program.
- Entrepreneurs who own a business or startup project of a technical or future nature may be granted a Golden Visa UAE, valid for five years.
- People with outstanding specialized talents under the UAE’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai Golden Visa programs can apply to the UAE authorities for a multiple-entry visa.
- Outstanding students at the national level achieving a minimum grade of 95 percent in a public or private secondary school may be eligible for a five-year Golden Visa.
- Outstanding university students of a university in the UAE may be eligible for a ten-year Golden Visa if their cumulative GPA is at least 3.5.
- There is also the opportunity for pioneering humanitarians to receive a UAE Golden Visa.
UAE Golden Visa Application Fee and Costs
With all applications, visa fees must be paid for immigration approval. Investors applying for the ten-year Golden Visa are subject to the following visa fees, over and above the initial investment requirements:
- Registration fee: AED 160,000 (about $44,000)
- State fees for issuing visas and identity cards: AED 3,860 (about $1,050) per person
- Medical exam: About $220 per person
- Private medical insurance: About $400 per person
Translation of legal documents, notarization, and consular fees: About $1,000 per person
Benefits of a UAE Long-Stay Visa
Life in the UAE
UAE Golden Visas provide a safe haven for Golden Visa holders and their family members. UAE’s golden residency offers life in one of the wealthiest and most developed countries worldwide, ranked 24th out of 197 countries on our Global Passport Index, considering factors like investment prospects and quality of life. While the UAE is one of the world’s wealthiest countries per capita, it has a lower average cost of living than the United States.
No residency requirements
Unlike most Golden Visas, residing in the UAE to maintain residence permits is optional. Successful UAE Golden Visa applicants who possess a residency permit are typically only required to visit the UAE once or twice a year to maintain the validity of their status.
With no personal income tax, capital gains tax, wealth tax, or inheritance tax, long-term and temporary visa holders can maximize their income and wealth retention. The absence of corporate tax encourages business growth and attracts international companies, real estate investments, and individuals with proven scientific excellence.
The UAE has also established double taxation treaties with many countries, like Portugal, Canada, Spain, and the UK, preventing individuals and businesses from being taxed twice on the same income.
Banking in the UAE
Those granted a Golden Visa in the UAE have access to the UAE’s banking sector, known for its stability and comprehensive regulatory framework. The Central Bank of the UAE ensures strict oversight and risk management, instilling confidence in customers and protecting their assets.
The UAE has gained a strong reputation as a center for wealth management and private banking services. Banks in the UAE cater to various clientele, providing tailored services, including investment advisory, asset protection, and estate planning.
Opportunity to obtain UAE citizenship
In general, acquiring UAE citizenship by naturalization and a UAE passport often requires a substantial residency period, typically around 30 years, with a valid residency visa, among other requirements.
However, The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreigners Affairs has approved amendments in the Executive Regulation of the Federal Law governing UAE Nationality and Passports, allowing certain eligible holders of a Golden Visa UAE to obtain Emirati nationality by naturalization.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to provide a round-trip airline ticket with all applications?
No, you only need to provide this kind of ticket for a short-stay visa of less than 30 days, and is usually required for a tourist visa.
What is a multiple-entry visa?
Multiple entry visas allow you to enter and exit the UAE as many times as stipulated. This is handy when you need to fly back to the US to collect documents, and possessions or see family.
Do you need an entry visa?
Yes, everybody who enters the UAE will need an entry visa to be in the country legally. You’ll need to provide immigration authorities with your original passport (regular passport) to receive entry stamps.
Do US citizens need a tourist visa?
US citizens don’t need to apply for a visit visa if they want to travel to the UAE. When arriving at one of the many UAE airports, citizens only need to provide their US passport to receive a tourist visa on arrival.
What is a United Nations Visa?
This is a specialized visa and one of the United Nations visa requirements is that you are on a diplomatic mission. It is similar to the other official visas, but is a single-entry visa valid for two months, with a maximum of stay one month.