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After Gold Visas, New UAE Citizenship Law Lets Qualified Expats to Avail Citizenship

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:40:59



The newly introduced changes to the UAE Citizenship Law might pave the way for an iconic shift from the existing restrictive citizenship regime. Qualified expats who now can avail citizenship, subject to approvals, would empower UAE to the secure quality talent while providing these individuals with more convenient and secure lives

The UAE Citizenship law seems to have taken a paradigm shift, turning itself into the first country in the Arab world to ease restrictive citizenship laws which govern Emirati citizenship by naturalisation. This new move which can be tracked back to the end of January, 2021, has introduced major changes to the existing Law No. 17 of 1972, essentially enabling qualifies expats to avail citizenship in the UAE. Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that expats who receive citizenship in the UAE can choose to keep their existing citizenship, allowing for dual citizenship as opposed to the existing policy.

Eligibility for Citizenship

The UAE Citizenship can be availed only by qualified expats falling within the specific categories of individuals, ranging across Doctors, Scientists, Foreign Investors, Artists and Talented People, along with their families and children.

Investors must mandatorily own property in the UAE. Specialization in a unique scientific field, contribution to studies and research that have scientific value and a minimum of 10 years of experience in the particular field along with a membership in a prominent organization specific to their profession is the minimum eligibility requirement for medical doctors and skilled professionals seeking to avail citizenship.

Being an active researcher in a university, research institute or in the private sector, along with 10 years of experience and significant scientific contributions [winning awards or receiving funds for research] is the criteria for scientists must to be eligible.

Talented people may include inventors, intellectuals and artists. Inventors' eligibility criterion involves possessing at least one patent relevant to the UAE and the same being approved by a top UAE body. Intellectuals and artists must possess international awards while being the forerunner in their own art or field. Citizenship awarding process happens through nomination via Emirates Rulers Court, Court of Crown Prince, Executive Council in an Emirate or via the Cabinet.

Sector Specific Issues

Real Estate Owners: Whilst the provisions of a real estate ownership are unclear, currently if one owns real estate above the value of 1 million qualify for a residency visa. Which is renewable every few years or so. That also extends to the property owner’s immediate family members.

Business Investors: Currently, capital investments of over 10 million qualify for a 10 year ‘golden visa’, to the investor and their immediate family members such as spouse, parents, and children.

Taking into consideration the current visa allowances for real estate owners and business investors, for one to qualify for a citizenship is likely to be over the 10 million mark. Currently, by special permission of the UAE monarchy those businesses that have highly contributed to the UAE’s economy already have access to citizenship rights. But to note, there are different categories of citizenships in the UAE.

Issues Specific to Existing Nationality and Other Residual Issues

However, while dual citizenship is permitted, restrictions applicable to citizenship laws of the specific jurisdictions still do come into play. For instance, applicants from countries like India which do not allow dual citizenship, may have to give away their existing citizenship to avail UAE Citizenship. However, these individuals might continue to choose recurring residency visa in the UAE, owing to properties and investments in their own nationality. However, many countries ranging across the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand allow dual citizenships, providing their citizens with better flexibility to adopt dual citizenship.

The specifics of the rights and application of law ascribed to these individuals who receive UAE Citizenship by naturalisation has to be understood in due course of time as the law applies. However, this policy change is set to change the face of what constitutes UAE nationality and places this Middle Eastern nation at par with many western nations with freer citizenship laws which allow distinguished expats to avail citizenship - providing the nation with valuable human resource while the individuals get to enjoy the benefits of the citizenship.