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How can I permanently settle in Dubai?

Dubai is an attractive destination for expats looking to relocate abroad. With a strong economy, tax-free salaries, and a high standard of living, many dream of settling down in this glamorous Gulf city permanently.

How can I permanently settle in Dubai?

Eligibility for Permanent Residency

The first step to permanently settling in Dubai is understanding the eligibility requirements for permanent residency (PR) status. Unlike some countries, the process of securing PR in the UAE is relatively strict. In general, you must:

  • Have legally resided in the UAE for 20 consecutive years
  • Earn a high monthly income of at least AED 20,000 per month
  • Own property in Dubai worth over AED 2 million
  • Have notable professional accomplishments and contributions to the UAE’s development
  • Show proof of financial solvency

Meeting all these thresholds can be challenging, which is why PR status is fairly rare. Most expats in Dubai instead rely on renewable 3-year residency visas sponsored by their employer.

Other Pathways to Settlement

Besides PR, there are a few other options that allow foreign nationals to remain long-term:

  • Retiree resident visa: For people over 55 who earn monthly incomes above AED 20,000, have health insurance, and own property in Dubai worth at least AED 2 million
  • Entrepreneur/investor visa: For business owners or high-net worth individuals who start a company or invest substantially in the UAE
  • Golden visa: A 10-year residence visa granted on a highly selective basis to investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents, top students, and frontline professionals

So while outright permanent settlement is difficult, alternative long-term visas provide more accessible avenues for staying long-term.

Steps for Securing Residency

If interested in relocating to Dubai, you’ll need to navigate the process of securing the right residency permit. Here are the key steps:

  1. Research your visa options

With many different paths to residency, decide which category makes most sense for your situation. Consider the eligibility criteria, application process, length of stay, and renewal rules for each type.

  1. Find employment

Since the majority of expats rely on work visas, having a job offer or company sponsorship is critical. Start networking, contacting recruiters, and submitting job applications well in advance of your planned move.

  1. Collect documentation

Prepare all the required documents like educational certificates, medical tests, health insurance forms, bank statements, reference letters, and more. Every visa type has its own documentation specifications.

  1. Complete application procedures

Submit all paperwork and biometrics to the immigration department, either directly or through your sponsoring employer or educational institution. Then await approval of your residency application.

  1. Finalize arrangements

Once approved, enter the country within 60 days to validate your residency visa. Then take care of necessities like finding housing, opening a bank account, getting health insurance, applying for an Emirates ID card, and more critical setup tasks.

Settling Down in Dubai

Once you’ve secured the right residency status, you can shift focus to building a new life and home in Dubai long-term. Keep the following settlement tips in mind:

Get oriented Learn about local laws and cultural norms to avoid missteps as a new resident. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhoods and transport options. Consider taking an integration course.

Build a support network Making new friends and being socially active will make Dubai feel more like home. Seek out groups and clubs related to your interests or join community organizations to meet like-minded residents.

Practice smart financial habits Carefully manage your money when getting settled. Create a monthly budget with savings goals. Understand banking, taxes, healthcare fees, and your employment benefits and entitlements.

Invest in your quality of life Make non-work aspects of life a priority too and invest time establishing your health, fitness, recreation, self-care routines, and personal relationships how you’d like them to be.

Consider Emirati culture Show a willingness to learn about Emirati traditions and values. Simple efforts like learning basic Arabic phrases or wearing culturally appropriate clothing make strong impressions.

Preserve ties back home Stay strongly connected with friends and family abroad, like making regular video calls or visits. Maintain financial accounts and assets outside the UAE as a safety net too.

Plan long-term Whether seeking permanent residency or a renewable visa, act like you’ll be staying forever. Set down roots by buying property, finding a long-term job, starting a business, having kids, and carving out your place in the UAE’s multicultural melting pot.

Key Takeaways

  • Strict eligibility rules make achieving permanent residency difficult, so most Dubai expats rely on renewable 3-5 year sponsored work visas instead
  • Besides PR, retirement, entrepreneur, investor, and 10-year golden visas offer more accessible routes to prolonged residency
  • Getting properly set up with the right visa and collateral requirements is key before relocating long-term
  • Integrating socially, financially, and culturally while preserving international ties creates stability for those settling down

Ultimately Dubai offers incredible lifestyle appeal, though the tradeoff is a lack permanent status for most foreign nationals. Yet with the right residency type and deliberate effort to plant roots there, you can make Dubai as much of a lifelong home as realistically possible as an expatriate.


While permanent settlement in Dubai can be challenging, a range of alternative long-term visa options make an exciting expat life in this Gulf boomtown possible. By understanding the various pathways to residency, securing a suitable visa, and deliberately putting down socioeconomic roots through jobs, property ownership and community bonds, foreigners can build a stable existence and potential lifelong future in Dubai. With strategic planning, cultural integration and financial security, the glittering emirate can certainly feel like a permanent home away from your native land.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the benefits of permanent residency in Dubai?
    Some benefits of PR in Dubai include permission to work without a sponsor, ability to own businesses and property, access to government schools and subsidies healthcare, ability to sponsor family members, and protection from deportation or losing residency rights.

  2. How much money do I need to settle down in Dubai?
    You’ll likely need at least AED 20,000 per month in income plus substantial assets like property to qualify for retirement or permanent residency. Work visa holders need less income but still should budget plenty for Dubai’s high cost of living.

  3. Can I buy property in Dubai on a residency visa?
    Yes, those holding 3+ year UAE residency permits can purchase freehold property in approved areas under their own name, with bank loan access. Some visa types require owning property to qualify.

  4. What documents do I need for residency visa in Dubai?
    Typical documents include passport copies, photos, medical fitness certificate, health insurance, police clearance certificates, tenancy contract, bank statements, educational qualifications, employment contract, sponsor consent letter, and application fees.

  5. Can I get permanent residency with a limited contract job?
    No, most limited work contracts don’t count towards the 20 continuous years of legal residency required for PR status. But they still allow residency during the term of employment. An unlimited contract may count if 20+ years with the same employer.

  6. What happens if I lose my job after getting Dubai residency visa?
    You’d typically have 30-90 days after job termination to secure new employment and update your work visa sponsorship. If not, you must exit the country but can return on a new work visa or switch to other residency options.

  7. Can I open a bank account in Dubai on residency visa?
    Yes, those with valid UAE residency can open personal bank accounts with a range of banks. Documents like passport, visa, Emirates ID and salary certificates/employment contract will be needed.

  8. Is getting a 10-year golden visa difficult in Dubai?
    Golden visas have very selective qualifying criteria like PhD degrees, top scientific research achievements, specialized tech talents, and high personal net worth. So they are not easy for average expat professionals to obtain.

  9. Can my family join me if I get Dubai permanent residency?
    Yes, permanent residents in Dubai can sponsor immediate family members like spouses and children under 18 for renewable 5-year residency based on their PR status, under simplified procedures compared to most expats.

  10. How long can I stay outside UAE with Dubai residency visa?
    Work visa holders can typically stay out of the UAE for up to 6 months before it affects residency status. Retiree and property ownership visas allow longer overseas stays. Any absence rules depend on specific visa terms.

  11. Can I still get UAE citizenship even if I have permanent residency?
    No, only citizens of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries have any path to Emirati citizenship. Even as a PR, you cannot apply for a UAE passport and naturalization is not possible for expats of any residency type or duration.

  12. Is permanent residency better than property investment for Dubai settlement?
    For most people yes – while an investment visa offers renewable 5-year residency tied to owning UAE property, PR has fewer renewal requirements and more privileges like business ownership. But PR has much harder eligibility.

  13. How many days can I be out of Dubai per year?
    With renewable 3-year residency, you can typically be abroad for up to 180 days annually before risking cancellation. Retirement visa holders can stay out every year for up to 6 months. Any travel rules vary by specific visa type.

  14. Can I work for a new company after getting Dubai permanent residency?
    Yes. The key benefit of permanent residency is not requiring employer sponsorship. PR holders can live, work, or operate business activities freely without needing sponsorship or work permits from Emirati entities.

  15. What are disadvantages of Dubai permanent residency?
    Disadvantages are mainly cost-related – PR requires owning high-value property and other wealth proofs, has high application and renewal fees, and risks losing residency rights if failing to maintain eligibility criteria like minimum income over time.

  16. Which is better country to get permanent residency, Canada or Dubai?
    Most experts agree Canada offers one of the best and most accessible PR programs globally for working professionals. Dubai’s scheme is extremely restrictive by comparison, aimed more so at retirees, investors and the wealthy rather than employees or families.

  17. What’s the difference between golden visa and permanent residency in Dubai?
    The main differences are that golden visas offer 10 years initial validity instead of 5 years for PR, have some extra privileges, but are much harder to obtain with often unique eligibility criteria. Only a tiny elite percentage of Dubai expats can actually secure a golden visa.


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