What do the new long-term residency visas mean?

Last year the UAE government unveiled plans for a number of new visa schemes for those living and working in the UAE or looking to become long-term residents. If you’re eligible, what first began as a plan to spend a year or two in the UAE could now easily become a much longer stay. 

New long-term visa residency schemes that have been rolled out include long-term residency visas for 5 and 10 years, and single-entry visas lasting 6 months. Also effective this year is the new 5 year retirement visa. More recently, the unprecedented “Golden Card” scheme was announced. These new schemes will not only serve to stimulate the local economy, attract foreign investment, and increase the UAE’s competitiveness on a global scale, but also promise to be a game-changer for the property market.

This week we sat down with Upendra Balchandani, CBI’s Head of Products, to hear how these milestone initiatives are expected to affect the property market.


How will the recent visa initiatives impact the property market when it comes to purchasing?
“Over the past couple of years, the government has taken steps to encourage people to purchase real estate. For example, in April Abu Dhabi changed its real estate law to allow expats to own freehold property in designated zones, moving on from previously granting leasehold arrangements with a maximum 99-year period.

“These new long-term residency visas, particularly the ground-breaking Gold Card scheme, will provide even more incentive for expats to invest in property and make UAE their home.”

Upendra explains that many people usually only have relatively short-term plans when it comes to living and working in the UAE. However, with the opportunity to become long-term residents, their mindset towards the UAE will change. 

“Many foreigners come to the UAE with the mindset of only living and working for a limited number of years, drawn by the prospect of earning and saving good money. Short-term visas linked to employment have held some of them back from owning their own property. These new visa schemes are a complete game-changer, allowing many more people to view the UAE as a long-term home rather than a temporary pit-stop.”

Upendra adds that the relatively lower property prices we are currently seeing in UAE make purchasing or upgrading an attractive prospect.

“Combined with more attractive property prices, these new visa schemes are expected to spur sales, increase demand and impact the market in a positive way.”


What type of homes are people buying currently and when?
“Our observation is that the younger generation, let’s say couples in their 30s with young kids, tend to buy smaller apartments or town houses, which are also much easier to rent or sell later.”

“As their wealth accumulates, they are likely to upgrade to a larger, stand-alone villa. These are becoming more popular, especially amidst a higher supply of smaller apartments on the market.”

Should I rent or purchase?
This is certainly a question many people will ask themselves, especially if they’re thinking of applying for a long-term residency visa. Should I invest or keep renting?

Upendra advises: “Everyone is different. First look at your circumstances and objectives. Are you stable in your job? Can you improve your long-term budget surplus and savings by owning a property? Can you see yourself and your family living in the UAE long-term? If you are new to the UAE, it’s always best to give yourself a bit of time, save up some money, and then consider a long-term investment. While doing so, make sure to keep your eye on market trends to ensure you buy at a good time and in the right location

Did you know it can take about two years before the cost of buying becomes more cost-effective than the cost of renting? Learn more about how to calculate the savings you could potentially make by investing.


How can CBI help customers interested in buying property in the UAE?
CBI can help you manage the mortgage application process from start to finish, with an experienced mortgage consultant guiding you every step of the way. This typically begins with the submission of relevant documents allowing CBI to assess your eligibility for a mortgage. Once these have been reviewed, you will be informed how much you are able to borrow.

“Mortgage applications and approvals depend on individual cases. Our pre-approval service enables individuals to understand their financial situation and have realistic expectations. They are then free to shop the market and make an informed decision. This service is absolutely free.”

Upendra highlights that once an individual wants to make an offer on a property, the application process can be kicked off relatively quickly:

“For those who are still unsure and are looking to assess their purchasing capabilities, we can also issue an “Approval-In-Principle” letter, which is valid for 60 days and can be presented to the seller.”


If you’re interested in possibly making the UAE a more permanent home and buying property, you can learn more by reading our Guide To Buying Your Own Home, as well as reading about the range of home loans CBI offers. Otherwise, contact us directly to find out more and get the process started.



Upendra Balchandani, CBI's Head of Products has over 17 years of consumer banking experience with large local and international banks, spanning two rising economies of India & UAE.