Business Space


How UAE's new Green visa will unlock more opportunities for expats to become entrepreneurs

Alisha Dayaram| Marketing Specialist

September 19, 2021

Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates announced a new ‘Green Visa’ scheme that will allow expatriates to apply for work without being sponsored by an employer.

The Green Visa scheme was devised as an effort to grow the UAE as a global hub of talented and influential human resources, moving away from just being an oil-driven economy.  

‘It is heartening to see that the UAE’s leadership has decided to commemorate the country’s golden jubilee through a series of futuristic initiatives that outline the roadmap for the next 50 years. The new projects have the potential to transform the economy and drive growth in the country,’ said Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, managing director of UAE-based healthcare services group VPS Healthcare. 

This marks a great shift away from UAE’s control over work permit and residency regulations, allowing more foreigners to bring businesses over to the Emirates. 


Green Visa vs Golden Visa?


In 2019, the UAE launched the “golden visa” scheme, aimed at welcoming rich residents and highly skilled workers into the country. This visa could be issued for 5-10 years, providing foreigners an opportunity to live in the country without having to renew their visas every year. 

Though the golden visa brought the country top talent in all sectors, this new green visa aims to do more. The launch of the green visa will have a tremendous impact in strengthening the country’s human capital and unlocking a new era of economic growth for the country. 

The green visa “ targets highly skilled individuals, investors, business people, entrepreneurs, as well exceptional students and postgraduates,” said Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi.

Green Visa holders will be able to sponsor their parents and children. The age limit to sponsor a child will also be increased from 18 to 25, encouraging more entrepreneurs to bring their families along. 

The government also said it would allow people who’ve lost their jobs to remain in the country for up to 180 days, a major incentive as most visas are tied to employment contracts. Under the golden visa, a worker only had 30 days to leave the country if fired. And in an effort to loosen the job market, it’s allowing for the hiring of temporary workers above the age of 15.


Why Now?

The United Arab Emirates has long resisted offering permanent residency, let alone citizenship, to their millions of foreign workers.  But the 2014 oil-price depreciation forced them to prepare their economies for a post-fossil fuel world.  They are now seeking to entice wealthy people to stay, a trend that was reinforced during the Covid-19 pandemic, when governments took steps to ensure those who lost their jobs could remain. 

Especially, considering  80% of UAE’s population consists of expatriates, having strict control over work permits and residency regulations only made it difficult for UAE  to serve their largest and most affluent population. With the new green visa, expatriates can finally feel a sense of permanency and build their businesses forward.

Similar programs have since been launched in other resource-rich Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.


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