UAE Citizenship for Ex-pats – Eligibility, Procedure, Documents, and More


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The new amendments introduced to the UAE citizenship law allow ex-pats of the emirates to become UAE citizens if they satisfy the pre-set conditions and eligibility criteria. These changes in the citizenship law, combined with the new law related to property ownership by ex-pats paves way for flexible and dynamic growth of both the emirates and the residents.

UAE citizenship was initially allotted only on the basis of naturalisation or heritage of the concerned applicant. However, several new categories have been added to the list with the introduction of the new amendments. This article will discuss different aspects related to UAE citizenship for ex-pats, the eligibility criteria, conditions, benefits, and the process of application.

Different Ways to Get UAE Citizenship

There are a few ways for ex-pats and non-citizens of the UAE to get their citizenship in the emirates. Given below is a detailed explanation of all of them –

  • By Naturalisation – Ex-pats who have been living in the UAE for over 30 years on a permanent residency visa can apply for citizenship based on naturalisation
  • By Descent – Any children of UAE citizens that were born abroad can apply for their UAE citizenship before they turn 18. This also includes children of Emirati women married to a foreigner. Individuals qualifying in this category can apply for their citizenship once they reach the legal age for the same.
  • By Marriage – Individuals married to an Emirati can also apply for citizenship in the UAE after completing 3 years of their marriage. Keep in mind that this is only applicable to women married to Emirati men, as men married to Emirati women are not eligible for citizenship by marriage.
  • By Special Merits – UAE also allows individuals with special talents and merit to apply for citizenship. This category includes individuals of several professions and talents, with each one carrying a distinct set of rules and eligibility requirements.
  • By Investment – Investing in the UAE also allows you the right to apply for citizenship. For this, investors would be required to own a property in the UAE that has a minimum value of AED 1 million to be considered eligible to apply for citizenship.

Who is Eligible to Get Emirati Citizenship Based on Merit?

Besides investors, there are a few subcategories of professions for individuals who can get UAE citizenship based on their merit.

Given below is a quick run-down of the people who can apply for UAE citizenship based on merit along with applicable eligibility criteria for each category/profession –

  • Doctors and Specialists – The concerned doctors and/or specialists must hold specialisation in a scientific discipline or area that is in high demand in the UAE at the moment. The specialist must have proven contribution or acknowledgement in their field or must have at least 10 years of experience. Moreover, the specialist must also be a member of an organisation or reputed group belonging to their specialisation.
  • Intellectuals – The intellectual must be a pioneer of their field and must have won at least 1 internationally recognised award in the field. The individual must also possess a recommendation letter from a government authority in their country.
  • Inventors – Any inventor applying for UAE citizenship must hold at least 1 patent on their name which is either approved by the Ministry of Economy of the UAE or a reputed international authority. The inventor must also obtain a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Economy.
  • Scientists – The eligible scientists are required to have at least 10 years of experience in their field and should be active researchers in either a private facility or a university. They must also have made substantial contributions to their field. The scientists must obtain a recommendation letter from a scientific institution in the UAE for their citizenship.
  • Artists and other folks with creative talents – All intellectuals in the fields of arts must have at least 10 years of experience in their field, should have made substantial contributions, and have to get a letter of recommendation from the government of their country.

Additional Applicable Conditions

There are a few other conditions that apply to the process and eligibility criteria for getting UAE citizenship for ex-pats –

  • The applicant must take an oath of loyalty and allegiance to the UAE 
  • The applicant must commit to always abiding by the UAE law
  • The applicant must always inform the UAE government if and when they acquire new citizenship or let go of the one they already have

Benefits of Having a UAE Passport

Being a citizen of the UAE comes with several useful perks, some of which are mentioned below:

  • You can visit over 178 countries visa-free for a short duration with a UAE passport, as per the current tally 
  • You won’t be required to file income tax or tax returns since it is not an application form of tax in the UAE, except for tax on returns from real estate investments 
  • Study grants for completing courses abroad, farming land, free housing, free education, and assistance with capital from the government are just a few of several benefits citizens enjoy 
  • Public healthcare is heavily discounted for all UAE citizens and getting a health insurance plan is no longer a mandatory requirement to stay in the country 
  • You can hold dual citizenship in several countries without any trouble

How is UAE Citizenship Granted?

UAE citizenship is granted based on a nomination system. Once you have applied for citizenship following the due procedure, nominations for citizenships would be made by the Rulers’ and Crown Princes’ Courts. This a cabinet based on Executive Councils and federal entities nomination. Once nominated, you will get your citizenship status with a UAE passport.


Q1. Can men married to Emirati women get UAE citizenship as per the citizenship by marriage law?

Awn: No, the citizenship by marriage law only allows women married to Emirati men to get UAE citizenship by marriage.

Q2. Can children of Emirati women married to foreign men get UAE citizenship?

Ans: Yes, children of Emirati women married to foreign men can get their UAE citizenship by descent once they turn of legal age.

Q3. What is the minimum amount of investment required for investors to get UAE citizenship?

Ans: The minimum investment required to get UAE citizenship is AED 1 million. Keep in mind that the investment must be in the form of real estate.

Q4. What are the special professions included in the merit-based UAE citizenship category?

Ans: Inventors, doctors, specialists, artists, and intellectuals can get UAE citizenship based on merit.

Q5. What is the minimum number of years to be married before you can apply for UAE citizenship by marriage?

Ans: The eligible applicant must be married for at least 3 years to an Emirati man to apply for UAE citizenship by marriage.

Q6. Can UAE authorities withdraw citizenship?

Ans: Yes, UAE citizenship can be withdrawn if any of the pre-determined conditions are not met or breached at any time after obtaining the citizenship.

Q7. Will you be required to give up your original nationality and citizenship to get a UAE passport?

Ans: No, applicants can retain their initial citizenship status and still gain UAE citizenship as dual citizenship is permitted.

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