Visa reforms & foreign company ownership

Posted By Emma Cronin   -   Posted On July 30, 2018

Earlier this year it was announced that the UAE Cabinet had passed a Resolution to (i) permit 100% foreign ownership of onshore entities, and (ii) extend residency visas issued to certain investors and professionals to a period of up to 10 years.

Reaction to the news was sensational with both the press and UAE residents welcoming the announcement as a positive development towards greater flexibility and increased investor certainty in the UAE, however the scope of the proposed changes and the timeline to implementation remains largely unclear but for certain developments announced since, particularly relating to visa reforms announced per the resolution.

100% Foreign Ownership

The existing law surrounding foreign ownership of UAE based entities restricts ownership to 49% requiring that any company incorporated in the UAE have a national shareholder holding at least 51% of the capital. The anticipated amendments to the above law would presumably permit 100% ownership of UAE based enterprise by international investors, however clarity in respect of implementation is not yet forthcoming.

Visa extension

Residency visas are currently issued for either a 2 or 3 year period, dependent upon the sponsor therefor. The announced extension of up to 10 year’s residency being provided to investors and certain professionals and their families, as well as exceptional students, would therefore be an attractive option in considering investment in, and movement to, the UAE.

It has since been announced that the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FIAC) have approved a plan for implementation of the resolution, particularly regarding a new system of entry visas for investors and professionals and we hope that further clarity regarding implementation will soon be forthcoming.

The Cabinet Resolution made mention of enforcement provision by the third quarter of 2018 and with the relevant ministries being requested to co-ordinate with authorities to report and advise regarding implementation by the end of this year we are hopeful that further information will be issued in respect of these developments.

At Senat MEA we are able to provide guidance surrounding the best available options in company incorporation and immigration alternatives. Should you wish to discuss your options or request further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

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