Living and working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can all be done through a residence visa. Having a residence visa is of course not the same as being a resident and becoming a citizen; which gives you the freedom to vote along with other privileges.
Many people are not aware of the process of how to apply for citizenship in the emirate and this guide is created with the intent of spreading awareness.
The UAE citizenship can be applied through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in each of the emirates. This article will guide you through the requirements, procedure, and provision under which a person can acquire citizenship.
The official statement from the UAE government regarding this matter read:
“The step aims at appreciating the talents and competencies present in the UAE and attracting more bright minds to the Emirati community in a way that contributes to the development and prosperity of the country.”
Requirements of Acquiring UAE Nationality
There are a number of things to be taken into consideration when we talk about acquiring UAE nationality. Here are a few things to be taken into consideration:
- The person applying must renounce his or her nationality of the origin or any other nationality he or she might hold
- The person should be proficient in the Arabic language as it is a fundamental demand
- The person should hold adequate education qualification as well
- A lawful source of income is another requirement
- Good reputation and code of conduct should also be up to the mark
- The person must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanour which involves moral turpitude or dishonestly
- Unless there is proof of rehabilitation
- The person is also required to obtain security approval as well
- The person has to swear allegiance to the UAE
Apart from the basic requirements, there are some specific conditions placed as well which include:
- An investor must own a property in the UAE
- A doctor or specialist must be specialised in a scientific discipline of high demand in the UAE, and must have acknowledged scientific contributions and practical experience of not less than 10 years. He/she must have a membership in a reputable organisation in the field of specialisation
- A scientist is required to be an active researcher either at a university, research centre or in the private sector. He/she must have practical experience of not less than 10 years in the same field and must have contributed to the said field. He/she must also have a recommendation letter from a recognised scientific institution in the UAE
- An inventor must have one or more patents that are approved by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy (MoE) or any other reputable international body. He/she must also have a recommendation letter from MoE
- Intellectuals and other individuals with creative talent/s should be pioneers in the field of art and culture and must have won at least one international award. A recommendation letter from related government entities is required as well
In order for a foreigner to obtain UAE citizenship, his candidacy must be approved by the Cabinet, the rulers and the executive councils of the emirates.
If the foreigner meets the conditions, he takes an oath and receives the country’s passport. But if at any time he violates any of the conditions, such as selling real estate, he will be stripped of his citizenship.
Categories of Foreigners Who Can Be Nominated for UAE Citizenship
The following categories of foreigners can be nominated for the UAE nationality:
- Individuals with creative talents
How to Apply for UAE Citizenship?
There are various ways through which a person can apply for citizenship and the first and foremost method that comes to mind is by Law.
UAE Nationality by Law
Based on Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 regarding Nationality and Passports, and as amended by Federal Law No. 10 of 1975 and Decree-Law No. 16 of 2017, a person may acquire UAE nationality by the virtue of law, citizenship, or naturalisation.
The law states that a person can acquire nationality who is:
- Born in the UAE or overseas to a father who is a UAE resident
- Born in the UAE or overseas to a mother who is a UAE national
- Or to a father with unknown or without citizenship
- Born in the UAE to unknown citizenship parents
- This is also referred to as “foundling”
UAE Nationality by Citizenship
People can also be granted nationality by citizenship include the following:
- Foreign woman married to a UAE national, with one or more children
- Though they should be married for 7 years since the submission of the application
- Foreign woman married to a UAE national, without children
- They should be married for 10 years since the submission of the application
It is worth mentioning that in case of a separation or divorce, the woman will be entitled to nationality if she remains a widow or divorcee, or if she gets married to another UAE national after the said period.
UAE Nationality by Naturalisation
In order to obtain nationality by naturalisation if:
- You are an Arab from a neighbouring country and you have been displaced to the UAE
- The only condition is that you must have been living there for at least three years otherwise your application will not be accepted
- An Arab individual residing in the UAE for more than seven years
- You must have a lawful source of income, a good reputation in the community, and that person has not been convicted of any offences
- Any person who has been residing in the UAE since or before 1940 until the effective date of Federal Law No. 17 of 1972
- The only restrictions are the same as mentioned in the previous point. In addition to that, you must also have a good grip on the Arabic language
- Any person who has been provided outstanding services to the UAE
- This ignores the provisions stated in the Federal Law and they can be ignored for this specific and particular point
UAE Nationality by Presidential Decree
Many countries have laws that can be overturned for specific cases by presidential decree. People often relate presidential decree to presidential pardon but it is much more than that. The President of the UAE may issue a decree granting nationality to a specific individual and this also ignores the provisions stated in the Federal Law.
Although the aforementioned things are in place by law but the chances of acquiring UAE nationality has become increasingly difficult over time. You can acquire the UAE’s citizenship only through the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts, Offices of the Executive Councils and the Cabinet based on the nominations of federal entities.
Additionally, UAE recently also announced that people who are investing in the UAE can become eligible for UAE citizenship along with their families as well.