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How to become a UAE citizen?

How to become a UAE citizen

How to get UAE citizenship?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers excellent opportunities to foreigners with good job prospects and a high standard of living. With a liberal and progressive atmosphere, the UAE has become the world’s leading cosmopolitan hub. Owing to the rise in investment and employment opportunities in the country, a large number of expatriate populations add to the total population of the UAE. As per the recent statistics, more than 80% of the population of this country constitutes of expatriates.

There are several reasons for expatriates to consider the UAE their home. If you stay for the long term, you may want to get UAE citizenship. It is good to evaluate your options when you are applying for the UAE nationality. As per the law, you can acquire UAE nationality by virtue of law, citizenship, or naturalization. If eligible, you can apply for the nationality through the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

In special cases, the President of the UAE may issue a declaration granting the nationality to the person by law or by naturalization. This may be given without considering the time of residency and the conditions laid down in the law and its regulations.

Citizenship versus Permanent Residency

The citizens of the UAE possess different rights and responsibilities when compared to migrants with permanent residence. One advantage of being a UAE citizen is free education and healthcare access. In addition, welfare and housing allowances to bring up your children and the cost of marriage are also covered.

Emirati citizens often get better employment opportunities in the country. Often, they are given higher salaries than other expatriates. However, these benefits may not be extended to naturalized citizens, who do not have a long family history in the country.

Nationality by law

Nationality by law is granted to a person in the following cases:

  • Anyone who resided in the UAE (one of the seven emirates) in or before 1925 and who remained in that country until the date of Law No. 17 of 1972.
  • Any person born in the UAE or abroad to a father who is a UAE national by law.
  • Any person born in the UAE or abroad to a mother who is a UAE national by law, whose fatherhood is not validated.
  • Any person born in the UAE or abroad to a mother who is a UAE national by law or to a father without nationality.
  • Any person born in the UAE to unidentified parents – the child must be born in the UAE unless proved otherwise.
  • A child born to a mother, who is a UAE national, and a foreign father has the option to apply for UAE citizenship once he/she reaches the age of 18.

Nationality by citizenship

Nationality may be given to a foreign woman married to a UAE national after seven years from the date of submission of the application to the Federal Office for Identity and Citizenship in the event that she has one or more children. This period shall be extended to 10 years if there are no children, provided that the marriage is currently ongoing and in compliance with the provisions of the decree law.

If the couple is divorced or the husband dies before the end of the term referred to, and if the wife has one or more children of that husband, she can be given nationality after the end of that period. This is done provided she stays a divorcee or a widow, or has married a national after the divorce or death of her husband and continues to stay in the UAE.

A wife can retain her UAE nationality in the event of her husband’s death unless she marries a foreign national, or acquires another nationality for herself.

Losing the UAE citizenship

Nationality by naturalization

To apply for UAE citizenship, an individual must fulfill the below conditions:

  • You must have lived lawfully in the country for more than 30 years. If you are of Bahraini origin or an Arab citizen of Omani, the period of residence must be at least 7 years.
  • You must have good conduct and reputation
  • You must possess a legal source of income in the country
  • You must not have any criminal record against you
  • You must be proficient in the Arabic language

However, a person who has acquired nationality by naturalization does not have the right to vote or stand for elections. A person of Bahraini origin or Arab citizen of Oman may get this right after 7 years.

Losing the UAE citizenship

If the nationality is acquired by affiliation or naturalization, it may be withdrawn in the following cases:

  • If a person is convicted repeatedly for the crimes
  • If the nationality is acquired through forgery or fraud
  • If a person resides outside the UAE without any reason continuously for more than two years
  • If a person has pursued citizen status of any other country
  • If a person engages himself/herself in military service of another country without any authorization from the UAE

If a person’s nationality is withdrawn, as a result, it may also be withdrawn from his spouse and minor children.

Applying for the UAE citizenship

To apply for UAE citizenship, applications shall be made to the authorities of the specific Emirate in which you live. In certain cases, applications are available online, but you will also have to attend face-to-face meetings for further processing.

Since the laws are complicated and challenging, it’s a good idea to take legal help from a local law firm or immigration professional.

Bottom Line

The UAE offers prosperous opportunities to expatriates. With a high number of foreigners moving to this country, the percentage of the local Emirati population is shocking. This has led to the formation of strict laws to acquire UAE nationality.

It is extremely important to note that UAE citizenship is handled by individual Emirates, and the ultimate decision lies with the respective authorities. You need to make sure that you have accurate information about the Emirate in which you live.

Irrespective of the course you choose to apply for citizenship, you must meet some basic conditions in order to be qualified. This includes being legally employed in the UAE, proficient in the Arabic language, and being of decent character.

Dual citizenship is not accepted in the UAE. If you obtain citizenship from another country, you must give up your UAE nationality. If you’re keen to learn more about your prospects to attain a UAE nationality, it’s worth seeking a legal opinion on the matter.