By Moustafa Daly
The UAE has announced that top-performing students residing in the country will be awarded an unconditional golden visa.
Regardless of their country of origin, high school students scoring at least 95% of the exams correctly or university students with a GPA of at least 3.5 will automatically be eligible to obtain the long-term visa – along with their family members, according to the Federal Authority for Identity, Nationality, Customs & Ports Security.
The decision comes as the UAE works to solidify its position as a regional science and technology hub amidst intensifying global competition with academic talent seen as one of the country’s most valuable assets.
“Next to hydrocarbon, students are a big export of the UAE, particularly to branded locations such as UK and US,” explains Philippe Amarante, managing partner at Henley & Partners Middle East.
“Providing an incentive for this focus group beyond academic credentials is a complementary and necessary step in the UAE’s ambition to attract and retain not only financial capital but also talent.”
Meanwhile, Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley & Partners reiterates Amarante’s view.
“The UAE is certainly positioning itself as a magnet to attract not only capital (also through the Golden Visa), but also talent and skills,” he said.
The director of the federal authority, Suhail Saeed Al Khaili, said to local media that the decision is a result of the UAE leadership working to retain promising scientific competencies and talent. He added that attracting talented students to study and work in the country is high up on the country’s development agenda.
Who else can get the UAE golden visa?
Launched in 2019, the UAE golden visa is valid for five to ten renewable years. So far it´s been successful to attract talent and capital. In 2022 , the country granted more than 80,000 golden visas among different categories and its goal for 2023 is to issue 100,000 visas, according to the government.
One of the popular visa routes is the investment route. Eligible applicants must have invested at least AED 2 million ($545,000) in the country or committed to paying the government AED 250,000 ($70,000) annually to apply.
Purchasing property is another way to qualify for this investor visa, with its value having to be at least AED 2 million ($545,000). Any UAE resident with a net salary starting at AED 30,000 ($8000) also qualify.
The investment routes are popular with investors from India and Southeast Asia, with Indian HNWIs reportedly investing more than $22 billion in the UAE between 2015 and 2021.
Also, around 6,000 Indian HNWIs are expected to relocate out of India in 2023, according to a media report, with a bulk of them heading to the UAE. In 2022, around 5200 HNWIs moved there, using its golden visa program to settle permanently in the country, particularly in Dubai.
Other routes for UAE golden visa
Entrepreneurs and tech talents are also eligible to apply for the long-term residence visa if they oversee an entrepreneurial project or a startup worth at least AED 500,000 ($135,000).
The UAE also grants a visa to people with considerable scientific achievements. This route prioritizes workers in certain in-demand professions, including doctors, scientists, athletes and STEM experts. Executive directors and pioneers of humanitarian work also qualify to apply.
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