Lawmakers in the United Arab Emirates has boosted the retirement hopes of many expats by voting to extend residency visas for the over 55s.
The UAE Cabinet voted to extend residency visas for the over 55s to five years – and to build in a renewal process to stretch the time even longer.
The UAE rule will cover all the Emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The law will come into force next year (2019).
Expats will have to show that they own property worth £410,000, savings of £200,000 or an income of £4,100 a month.
Automatic visa renewals
Providing expats can meet at least one of the requirements, the visa will be automatically renewed.
The move is seen as a way of encouraging wealthy expats to stay on in the UAE once they reach retirement and to boost the property market, which has struggled to recover from the financial crisis.
The retirement age in the UAE is 65 years old for expats and 49 for Emiratis.
Paul Kelly, operations director of estate agents Allsopp & Allsopp, explained the visa offers security for those nearing retirement and may encourage them to stay in the UAE.
“The UAE property market will benefit greatly as a result, with more expats investing in family homes,” he said. “Most expats have a money-making mindset when they move to the UAE with a short-term plan and goal before moving back to their home country. The Cabinet’s decision to enforce the long-term visa law now allows expats to look at the UAE with more longevity.”
Wills and financial planning opportunities
The official DIFC Wills Service Centre is also expecting a surge in demand from older expats following the announcement.
“The people who will receive the new visa have significant wealth. They will now have to think long and hard about how to protect their assets as they grow older,” said a spokesman. “The obvious step is to take out a recognised and enforceable DIFC will and we expect a significant growth in DIFC will registrations.”
Coupled with an increasing number of DIFC wills, financial firms expect expats to take advantage of the no-tax environment in the UAE by bringing their offshore finances and investments into the country.