Dubai introduces new virtual visa in response to the British exodus

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become one of the world’s most popular expatriate destinations in recent decades. It ranks just outside the top ten with British expats, and is currently home to around 55,000. A huge percentage of them head to Dubai, the country’s most populous city, attracted by its warm weather, luxurious lifestyle and tax-free benefits.

But as is the case with so many things right now, COVID-19 has thrown a huge spanner in the works. The UAE’s economy has been hit hard by the crisis, and after thousands of redundancies, the country is now experiencing a British exodus. According to reports, around a third of Brits in the UAE want to return home after losing their jobs, with many selling their possessions to raise enough funds to do so.

These expats are incredibly important to the UAE’s economy, which is why Dubai has introduced a virtual visa in an attempt to encourage Brits to live there more easily than ever before. Here, we look at the new visa, its benefits, and how Brits can apply.

What is the new virtual visa?

Launched on October 14th, the new virtual visa accommodates the rise of remote working by allowing British citizens and their families to live in Dubai on an annual basis, while retaining their employment in the UK and doing their job remotely. As such, these individuals get all the benefits of residing in the UAE without having to find an occupation there.

Speaking about the virtual visa, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing Issam Kazim said: “Thanks to strong existing business links, many British companies already have a robust presence in Dubai. The opportunity to work from the emirate may also facilitate partnerships and collaborations in the UAE and across the region.” And the most obvious benefit for Dubai and the UAE is that these individuals will contribute to its economy and help get it back on track.

How can you apply for the visa?

To obtain a virtual visa, you will need:

  • A passport with at least six months validity
  • Health insurance with UAE coverage
  • Proof of employment from your current employer with at least one year on your contract, a minimum of $5,000 (£3,763.67) per month salary, last month’s payslip, and three preceding months’ bank statements
  • Proof of ownership if you are a business owner, showing that you have an average monthly income of at least $5,000 per month, and providing three preceding months’ bank statements

Head to the Visit Dubai website to apply for the virtual visa, where you will need to fulfil certain requirements and show specific documents (including the ones above) as part of the process. The UAE embassy in the UK will also ask you to get these documents attested, which verifies that they are legitimate. As visa agents GulfVisa note, this must be done “first…by a solicitor and then the British Foreign Office (FCO). Only then can they be passed on to the embassy for final attestation.”

What other advantages do virtual visa holders receive?

Visa holders can live and work remotely in Dubai and pay no income tax, while also renting property and accessing services like telecoms, banking facilities and schooling. And with a wealth of co-working spaces, virtual visa holders are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing where to work each day. They can also re-enter the UAE multiple times, though individuals cannot be outside of the country for longer than six months or the visa will be nullified. What’s more, the virtual visa costs just £216 a year per person, plus processing fees and medical insurance costs.