Golden visas: From investors to exceptional professionals

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Published on 2023-08-22 at 10:00 by Asaël Häzaq
While the European Commission is fighting to put an end to the Golden Visa within the European Union, other states are keen on pursuing the Golden passport adventure. As a means of attracting foreign investors while boosting the economy, the Golden Visa continues to appeal to a range of expatriates, not just the wealthiest. So how do you qualify for a Golden Visa if you're not an investor?

How the UAE Golden Visa attracts expatriate professionals

While Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom have renounced their Golden Visa programs, other countries continue to offer them. Spain's Golden Visa is in the hot seat. Calls by the European Commission for member states to stop selling citizenship to foreign investors are being heard. Hence, countries like Italy and Greece are tightening the conditions for granting citizenship. Meanwhile, other countries, such as Switzerland, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are tapping into these measures to attract new Golden Visa applicants. This visa, which is particularly popular in the UAE, has been extended to several types of foreign professionals.

Since its launch in 2019, the UAE Golden Visa has gradually expanded its scope. Initially, the visa was intended for wealthy investors, business people, and their families. Today, it also targets "talented individuals." Several types of foreign professionals are eligible for the UAE Golden Visa, such as real estate investors, entrepreneurs and "exceptional specialized talent," including doctors, scientists, senior executives, engineering and science specialists, creators in culture and the arts, athletes, inventors, and Ph.D.'s.

The UAE is also focusing on future foreign professionals. In fact, "exceptional students" are also eligible for the golden visa, whether high school or university students. The golden passport thus aims at rewarding everyday heroes. Long-term humanitarian workers, recognized for their extraordinary actions and skills, are also eligible for a Golden Visa, just like "frontline heroes" (health workers, laboratory technicians, etc.) who intervened in major crises such as Covid-19.

What types of professionals qualify for a Golden Visa?

What is the situation in other countries? Who is eligible for a Golden Visa? Investors and entrepreneurs are highly sought-after profiles for countries seeking to attract wealthy expatriates.

In fact, there are generally two main ways to obtain a Golden Visa: investing in real estate or investing in the country's businesses. Switzerland, for example, offers two programs: Swiss Residence through Lump Sum Taxation and the Swiss Investor-entrepreneur Program. The former doesn't allow you to work and is based on the payment of an annual tax that varies from canton to canton (from about $203,000 to about $600,000). The second program is aimed directly at investors, who can invest in an existing company or create one (minimum annual investment of $1,000,000). The same policy applies in Indonesia, which offers 3 paths to the Golden Visa: real estate investment, investment in companies, and the use of "talents for the Indonesian economy".

Other countries are open to professionals who do not have the financial resources required for the Golden Visa. Singapore, for example, is accepting applications from scientists, artists, engineers, athletes, etc., who excel in their field. This is the requirement for foreign applicants who do not meet the monthly income requirement (S$30,000, approx. $22,326). The government reassures a considerate approach to such applications. Like the United Arab Emirates, Singapore is open to "exceptional individuals". Cambodia has adopted the same tone, insisting that it prioritizes "merit" and carefully examines each application. In addition to investors and entrepreneurs, Cambodia's Golden Visa also targets researchers and other "talented and experienced professionals."


As you can see, the Golden Visa is aimed not only at wealthy professionals (real estate investors, business leaders) but also at talent in very specific sectors, such as health, science and engineering. The goal is to attract foreign professionals to boost the economy and create jobs, especially in innovative fields. Therefore, Golden visas are still the talk of the town.

Useful links:

United Arab Emirates

UAE: Check your eligibility