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Recent Adjustments to the UAE’s Golden Visa Program for Scientists and Specialists

The UAE Golden Visa program, established in 2019, has been a significant draw for global talent, offering multiple pathways for residency, including one tailored for ‘Scientists and Specialists.’ This article delves into recent changes affecting this specific pathway, focusing on new salary requirements and the updated process for educational certificate recognition.

Revised Salary Requirements

Until recently, applicants could qualify for the ‘Scientists & Specialists’ Golden Visa by showing a minimum gross monthly salary of AED 30,000 (approximately USD 8,169), which included basic salary and additional allowances. However, in a significant policy shift effective May 2024, under Article 17 of Cabinet Resolution 65-2022, the requirement has been refined. The eligibility now depends solely on the basic salary, exclusive of any allowances, still set at AED 30,000. This adjustment tightens the criteria, potentially reducing the pool of eligible applicants and complicating renewal for current Golden Visa holders.

New Process for Educational Certificate Recognition

Another notable change is the requirement for educational certificate recognition for degrees obtained outside the UAE. Candidates must now undergo an equivalency assessment via an accredited vendor of the UAE Ministry of Education (MOE), a process that takes about 30 days. Following a positive assessment report, the applicant must seek final MOE recognition, adding another seven to 10 days to the process. This additional step aims to validate the authenticity of foreign qualifications but also extends the overall application timeline.

Implications of the Changes

The move to a basic salary criterion reflects the UAE’s intent to attract high-caliber professionals who can contribute significantly to the economy, ensuring that the Golden Visa holders have substantial economic involvement within the country. Meanwhile, the educational certificate recognition mandate ensures the qualifications of incoming talent align with UAE standards, although it complicates and lengthens the application process.

Alternative Pathways

For professionals who do not meet the revised criteria of the ‘Scientists & Specialists’ pathway, other options remain viable. Applicants might consider securing a nomination directly from a principal government authority, which can accommodate a broader range of skills and experiences. Fragomen, a global immigration firm, offers services to help navigate these alternatives, providing a Long-Term Residence Assessment Eligibility Tool to evaluate potential eligibility for the Golden Visa.

The recent updates to the UAE’s Golden Visa program refine the eligibility criteria and processes, aiming to better align with the nation’s strategic goals of attracting and retaining exceptional talent. While these changes introduce some challenges, they also reinforce the program’s role in bolstering the UAE’s economic and professional landscape.

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