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The Impact of Visa Rule Changes on Local Businesses

In this article, I will be discussing:

  • The most significant visa rule changes recently introduced in the UAE
  • The impact these rule changes will have on local businesses
  • Steps you can take to prepare your own business for the changes.

I have been thoroughly impressed and enthused by the pace of change and positive reform in the United Arab Emirates since establishing myself and my family here. 

Every year, steps are taken to continue to make the UAE a more appealing place to live, work, and build a successful business.

More recently, the UAE has moved to relax visa rules to incentivize young people, skilled workers, tourists, and entrepreneurs alike toward this thriving business hub. 

Naturally, any adjustment to the procedure in this area will have an impact on local businesses, and this is what I will be focusing on in my latest article.

Recent Visa Changes UAE

The UAE Government announced back in April that reform was coming for the country’s visa system. On October 3rd, those changes arrive, and will undoubtedly shake up the landscape for the nation’s businesses.

While there are extensive changes, I’ll pick out the changes I believe are most key to mention in a business context:

  • Green Residence Visa
  • Golden Visa rules
  • Tourist Visa
  • Job Seekers Visa

The UAE has introduced a Green Residence visa – a new visa class in its entirety. This visa provides a five-year residency for freelancers, self-employed and skilled workers with degrees and earning over 15,000 per month. New to the country, it allows individuals to ultimately self-sponsor their business venture, in the first move of its kind for the UAE.

Golden Visa eligibility has been expanded across many more categories too, and the requirement to be in the UAE for a certain period to keep the Golden Visa has been removed. Once you’ve got one, you’ve got it for as long as it is eligible. There are specific eligibility requirements that remain valid for the relevant sectors, however, its provision is more substantial. 

30-day tourist visas now become 60 days – and can be extended to up to 180 days. Hooray for tourism! (which is already absolutely booming here, by the way).

To that end, a brand new job exploration visa is eligible for bachelor’s degree qualified skilled workers who have graduated from one of the top 500 universities in the world, giving them the chance to come to the country and seek out employment opportunities.

Generally, too, the vast majority of these visa types no longer require sponsorship, which lifts a significant requirement off newcomers to the UAE with no actual ties to the country. I would expect this to be one of the greatest appeals to job seekers generally. 

Visa Change UAE Impact

The first thing that jumps out to me, as a General Manager, is just how flexible and welcoming the UAE is towards welcoming new talent. This is true for both young talent just out of university, and skilled workers overall. 

It is so often the story of workers who have settled in Dubai that they arrived with their passport, a suitcase, a tourist visa, and a dream. This is of course a huge gamble to take, and it’s often a race against the clock to secure something to get you started when a 30-day tourist visa was the standard issue.

However, the increase to a standard 60-day visa – extendable up to 180 days – takes a great deal of pressure off prospects. Considering the average hiring process in the UAE takes 5 weeks, there can very easily be a conflict of interest that develops in timelines. This relaxation of the tourist visa is a positive step towards rectifying this and is very favorable to job seekers. 

The eligibility of Green Residence and Golden Visas expansion just creates such a vibrant marketplace too. The UAE government is intent on attracting global talent by offering attractive conditions to set your roots. It is a decision that thousands of people make every year, and so many consider the gamble to be the best they ever took.

We regularly deal with entrepreneurs in the region who truly appreciate how well-conditioned the country is towards helping them thrive in their ventures. Extending eligibility and lowering barriers to entry across the board for ambitious entrepreneurs is a hugely positive step. 

What Does It Mean For My Business?

From a business perspective, I would say that the most significant impact on your business will be that the labor pool should become even more competitive.

There is a side note about increased competition in your industry, however, I think the former is what should have the most attention paid to it.  

Thinking in straight lines, I see more talented prospects coming to the UAE – with the safety net of a longer standard visa issue – to search for job roles. This can always be a good thing for businesses, as a more competitive labor market can only drive skills in your business. 

Remember, though, that it could make hiring more laborious, and it would be worth investing in a candidate management system to ensure you are sifting effectively. Just post a job on LinkedIn for an hour if you’re not sure what I mean…

I would also say, too, that you should anticipate competition in your industry to increase. The broadening of the Golden Visa’s scope is a sure sign that the UAE government is pushing for exceptional talent to establish their business in the country. To that end, if you’re in an industry competing with self-employed or freelance workers, you may find yourself up against more competition here too – or you may see an opportunity for collaboration, depending on the side of the coin you choose to look at. 

I expect, from the perspective of my position anyway, that we will be registering the interest of plenty more entrepreneurs for a Green Residence Visa or a  Golden Visa once the new rules are in place!

It will of course be on your mind anyway, but now is the perfect time to really align your strategy with your goals, and keep ahead of any emerging competition. 

Adapting To New Visa Rules

Thankfully, the most recent adjustments to visa rules won’t be rocking anybody’s world too much. The purpose of these changes is to embed a more relaxed market, rather than putting any barriers to entry. I see these changes as providing more choice and opportunity to workers and entrepreneurs alike. 

Having access to more skilled workers can only be a positive thing for the prospects of your recruitment too.

Don’t forget, we at Business Incorporation Zone are on hand to assist with any Visa-related services for your new business, so if the rule changes are still a little complicated to you and you’re not quite clear on how they will impact your business, reach out to us and let’s connect.
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