The UAE's new visa rules will come into force on October 3, authorities announced on Monday.
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP) said the new rules — called the Advanced Visa System — are now in a pilot phase until they come into effect in four weeks.
Among the major changes, which the Cabinet approved in April, are longer visit visas for tourists, long-term residency for sought-after professionals and easy access to the 10-year golden visa initiative.
Golden visa holders who stay outside the country will not have their permits cancelled, according to the updates announced at a press event in Abu Dhabi on Monday. People who cancel their residency visas will have a six-month grace period to stay in the country. Previously, people were allowed only one month.
The ICP also launched the new version of the UAE passport. Current holders whose passports have expired can apply for a new one through ICP's website or smart app or the country's embassies and consulates.
The new passport has enhanced security features such as a polycarbonate data page made using complicated spectrum patterns.
The visa changes represent one of the biggest shake-ups of the country’s immigration policy in years.
The new visas include a standard 60-day entry permit, rather than 30 days at present, and a five-year, multi-entry tourist visa that allows visitors to stay in the country for up to 90 days in a row.
The UAE will also introduce five-year green visas, which are aimed at skilled workers, freelancers and the self-employed, and a job exploration entry visa for degree holders that does not require a sponsor or a host.
Parents can sponsor their male children until the age of 25, up from 18, allowing them to remain in the UAE after school and university.
The golden visa initiative will also be expanded, as skilled professionals on salaries of Dh30,000 ($8,100) a month or more will find it easier to secure a 10-year visa.