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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Can I secure life-long residency in the UAE if I buy a property?

The reader, from India, is planning to buy an apartment in Dubai 

Dubai property investors can only secure short-term residence visas if they invest in real estate worth over Dh1 million. Jeff Topping / The National
Dubai property investors can only secure short-term residence visas if they invest in real estate worth over Dh1 million. Jeff Topping / The National

I am an Indian citizen and I want to invest in Dubai to secure residency. If I buy property in Dubai, will they give me a lifelong residence visa? What are the criteria to get a visa if I buy an apartment? SS, India

It is not possible for any non-GCC national to get lifelong residency in the UAE, even if they purchase property. While it can be possible for an expat to obtain a residency visa based on property ownership, the rules are very strict and the visas are valid for either six months or two years only. There is no guarantee that anyone buying a property will be granted a visa and they do not permit a person to undertake any form of employment in the UAE.

To make an application, the property must have a purchase price of a minimum of Dh1 million and the outstanding mortgage must be no more than 50 per cent. The applicant must have an income of at least Dh10,000 per month from a verifiable source, but this cannot be not from employment in the UAE. Any application must be made to Dubai Economy and the Dubai Land Department for consideration with visas granted on a case-by-case by case basis - approval is by no means automatic. Visas are issued for up to two years under the current rules. In accordance with standard Dubai rules, applicants must undergo a medical examination and organise their own Dubai Health Authority compliant medical insurance. I would reiterate that a property related visa does not permit an individual to work in the UAE, only to reside here, so if they take up employment the property visa must be cancelled with immediate effect and there is no guarantee that any application will be approved or renewed.

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Read more from Keren Bobker:

What is the procedure if I want to change jobs? I am on a limited contract visa and have been in my job for six months. SH, Sharjah

Formal notice of resignation is the first step and this should be provided in writing. In most cases 30 days’ notice is required per UAE Labour Law but check your contract as in a few cases a longer period may be required. Someone breaking a fixed contract may also receive an employment ban depending on their level of education and the action of the employer, although this would not apply if changing employer within the same free zone.

As SH will be breaking the terms of a limited contract, he must pay a penalty in accordance with Article 116, which states: "Should the contract be rescinded by the worker for causes not set forth in Article 121, the worker shall be bound to compensate the employer for the loss incurred thereto by reason of the rescission of the contract, provided that the amount of compensation does not exceed the wage of half a month for the period of three months, or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract." This penalty is roughly equivalent to income for 45 days.

I will soon complete six year of service with my company and have been on a limited contract. I will be leaving and received the details of my end of service gratuity calculations from the HR department and they state that I am entitled to gratuity of 21 days for the first five years and 30 days for the sixth year. From what I have read in online articles, I am entitled to 30 days each year from the first year as I have completed more than five years and I am on a limited contract. HR will not believe me and say I need to show them the law that proves this. Can you help? GB, Dubai

In this situation the HR department is correct. This is covered in Article 132 of UAE Labour Law which states: "The worker having spent one year or more in continuous service shall be entitled to an end of service gratuity upon the termination of his service. The days of absence from work without pay shall not be included in the calculation of the period of service, and the gratuity shall be calculated as follows: 1 - The wage of twenty-one days for each of the first five years of service. 2 - The wage of thirty days for every additional year. Always provided that the total gratuity does not exceed the wage of two years." A payment of 30 days is clearly for ‘additional’ years, so for those in excess of the first five years. GB is entitled to no more than the HR department has advised.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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