Kuldip Lakhani, an Indian information technology professional in Abu Dhabi, received the UAE’s golden visa under the talent category after nominating himself.
“Better stability of residency and freedom of career path are two of the major reasons that prompted me to apply for the golden visa,” says Mr Lakhani, 36, who has been working in the technology industry for the past 15 years.
He switched to the self-sponsored residence permit, from the company-sponsored visa.
In a move to attract, retain and reward exceptional talent from the technology sector and other industries, the Emirates introduced the Golden Visa programme in 2019.
The visas are valid for up to 10 years and are intended to encourage exceptional workers and foreign investors to establish deeper roots in the country.
Among those eligible are investors, entrepreneurs, high-achieving students, people with special talent and researchers in various fields of science and knowledge.
Frontline medical workers and celebrities ranging from Giorgio Armani to Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan have also been recipients of the golden visa.
Bahrain also approved a 10-year golden visa programme for selected foreigners this year as it seeks to attract talent amid an economic recovery.
Mr Lakhani, who applied under the “specialists in engineering and science” segment of the talent category, says the golden visa gives a person the chance to sponsor themself, putting them in a better position with their employer.
“Being in the technology field, it adds to the convenience of working remotely and travelling back and forth to the UAE as required. It is also more convenient since you don’t have to renew your visa for the next 10 years.”
After nominating himself and receiving approval, he applied for the golden visa through an Amer Centre in Dubai.
The entire process cost about Dh6,000. However, it varies depending on an applicant’s specialisation and education, Mr Lakhani says.
The breakdown includes Dh2,790 for residency fees, Dh1,070 for an Emirates ID, Dh300 for a medical test and about Dh1,500 to validate education documents, cancel the previous visa and pay other miscellaneous costs at a typing centre.
The nomination and visa process took about two to three months.
“The application and approval for visa was swift once the nomination was approved,” Mr Lakhani says. “It took about seven to 10 days, including visa application, approval, medical, cancellation of previous visa, golden visa stamping, and issuing the new Emirates ID.”
Employers in the UAE are increasingly considering offering golden visas, among other incentives, to attract senior talent and retain existing employees.
Real estate portal Property Finder is using the programme to attract and retain software and data engineers, according to a recent media report.
The company will assist them and other senior leaders to secure the 10-year visa by offering support during the application process and covering the related fees, the report said.