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Incentives and facilities packages at the Federal Level

1) Freeze on federal government fees

The UAE federal government announced on 28 February 2018 a three-year freeze in government fees, saying the move was intended to attract more foreign investments, promote economic stability and support the industrial and commercial sectors.

2) VAT on gold rolled back

The UAE federal government rolled back the five percent value added tax (VAT) on the gold and diamond sectors at a wholesale level. Retailers, however, said they will continue to impose five per cent on all jewelry transactions taking place in their shops.

3) Visa and Ownership

The UAE federal government announced it would relax company ownership rules to allow 100 percent foreign ownership. In a landmark decision.

It also announced new 10-year visas for investors and professionals in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields along with their families, as well as all scientists and creative people.

The UAE introduced five-year residence visas for students, and 10-year visas for outstanding students. Then, as part of the UAE’s sweeping changes to visa and labor legislation announced last week, the cabinet announced that exceptional students would be given two-year residence visas after they graduate, allowing them to pursue internships and job opportunities.

4) Bank Guarantee

A new insurance scheme for workers’ guarantees has been introduced. The previous mandatory deposit of Dhs 3,000 per worker is now replaced by a new insurance scheme that cost only Dhs 60 annually per worker.

5) Temporary visa, new visa and exemption from fees.

The Cabinet approved a new 6-month visa to be introduced for job seekers who overstayed their visa but wish to work in the country.

The Cabinet also approved exemption of transit passengers from all entry fees for first 48 hours approved. Transit visa extension for up to 96 hours for a fee of Dhs 50.

Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (“ICD”) has announced the lunch of "Protect Yourself by Changing Your Status" incentive as from 1 August 2018 till 31 October 2018 with the main objective of the Initiative is to solve the problem of every violating person, whether resident or visitor or stumbling family regardless nationality, by removing the burden of fine, exempting him from legal punishment and allowing him to search for work or leave to his country with dignity, without any impediments, consequences or ban.

ICA will give the violators, through the Initiative, several options, namely to change the status by paying simple fees of AED500, exempt them from all fines of any value and other legal penalties, in case they wish to stay in the state, provide them the opportunity to work, and to enable them to leave the state without any impediments while exempting them from all fines as well as from the ban stamp so they can return to the State with a new visa at any time and allow him to obtain a temporary residency visa for six months with no need for a sponsor, during which he can search for a job, conditional upon obtaining the medical fitness certificate and visiting ICA to take advantage of the Initiative and register in the Virtual Labor Market system that allows job seekers, employers and employment agencies to interact among themselves under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and conclude the employment contracts.

ICA explained that those who have temporary residency visa (6 months) will not be allowed to work unless they have a legal job and transfer their residency visa to the new job sponsor. While those who are unable to get work opportunity will have to leave the state before the end of such period so as not to lose the privileges granted to them under the Initiative and to be able to avoid the legal consequences of the violation, and they can legally return later to the state if they wish and under a new visa.

In relation to the violators who have undecided cases between them and their sponsors, ICA will renew their residency visa pending rendering a final judgment in their cases. It will also renew the residency visa of persons sentenced in different cases, who serve their sentences in reform and rehabilitation centers until their sentences are completed, while the status of persons registered with criminal entries will be examined according to each case.

On the violators with no documents, ICA invited their embassies to expedite the procedures of screening and release temporary travel documents to enable them to benefit from the Initiative, indicating that the duration of the permit to be granted to such persons after visiting ICA and closing their entries is one week during which they must complete their procedures and leave the state. In this context, ICA will grant the residency visas, including the temporary ones, only to those who have a passport that meets the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) relating to passports.

Furthermore ICA will close the records of all violators who have been issued circulars of absconding from their sponsors when they visit ICA, without reference to the sponsor and regardless of his consent or not to be able to change his status in accordance with the options provided by the Initiative, pointing out that the procedures followed by ICA when any sponsor request to issue a circular against the sponsored person includes the receipt of the passport of the sponsored circulated person to be able to complete its procedures immediately after visited by the circulated person however the absconding circular value shall be paid which shall be AED 121 for individuals, AED 521 for private establishments and AED 71 for government.

The Cabinet approved a free Multi entries visa of 6 months for the sailors and crew working on-board of tourist ships encouraging tourist ships to increase their trips to the region.

On 15 July 2018, UAE announced a change in visa rules for tourists, exempting dependents under the age of 18 from visa fees.

The visa exemption will be applicable from July 15 to September 15 each year.

6) Waiver of the one-day road access permit fee for heavy vehicles in the country.

The UAE Cabinet adopted a decision to waive the one-day road access permit fee for heavy vehicles in the country.

The move will reduce the cost for operators of development projects and support the growth of infrastructure projects in various vital sectors.

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