In the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain has recently introduced a Golden Residency Visa Program (GRVP) to attract foreign investors and talent to boost the economy in the Kingdom. At Zu’bi and Partners, we have been closely monitoring the development of this program. The United Arab Emirates Golden Visa caters to athletes, inventors, creative people in the field of art and culture to pioneers of humanitarian work. In this article, we delve into the advantages of the Bahraini GRVP, the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the potential impact on the economy.
What is the Golden Residency Visa Program?
The GRVP is a visa program offered by the government of Bahrain that provides a solution for investors who are looking to achieve long-term residency in the Kingdom. The visa offers residency for up to 10 years that can be renewed indefinitely. It has gained popularity among individuals who are looking for alternative options for investment.
Benefits of Investing in Bahrain
In the past, Bahrain has launched several initiatives in line with increasing foreign investment. The Ministry of Interior announced the launch of the GRVP in February 2022, where the program allows permanent residency in Bahrain for the applicant and their immediate family and relatives. In addition, it allows unrestricted multiple entries, employment opportunities, and access to free healthcare and education. Another advantage is the possible reduction in tax burdens as Bahrain does not tax on personal income.
Investing in foreign markets such as Bahrain is an exceptional chance to broaden portfolios and pave the way for potential international business prospects in the future. Bahrain is known in the Gulf region to have business-friendly laws and enjoys physical proximity to other Middle Eastern neighboring countries. According to the Economic Development Board (EDB), Bahrain has been ranked first in the Gulf in 2020 for inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks related to Gross Domestic Product[i]. Bahrain offers investors the advantage of full ownership of their business in most sectors, eliminating the requirement for a local partner.
This initiative is in line with Bahrain’s strategic Economic Recovery Plan. Bahrain aims to enhance its business environment to grow FDI by more than USD 2.5 billion by the end of 2023[ii]. This includes reforming commercial procedures to increase their effectiveness and ease business setup. Tamkeen, a semi-autonomous government agency, promotes the development of businesses and individuals in the private sector. In 2022, Tamkeen launched an FDI support program in collaboration with the EDB. This program supports medium to large enterprises by granting financing solutions, enabling the setup and expansion of foreign businesses in Bahrain[iii].
Four different categories can qualify for the Golden Visa: employees, retirees, highly talented individuals, and property owners. An employee must have resided in Bahrain for the past five years and have earned a basic salary of at least 2000 BHD ($5305) per month. As for retirees, the requirement is a salary of at least 4000 BHD ($10,610) per month. Another category is skilled individuals; Bahrain aims to attract highly talented individuals nominated by a government agency in certain fields to diversify the country’s labour force. Lastly, those that own one or more properties in Bahrain valued at 200,000 BHD ($530,480) would also qualify for the golden visa. We advise regularly checking Bahrain’s e-government website (Bahrain.bh) for any updates on the requirements.
The application procedure is fast and seamless. Eligible individuals have the opportunity to apply at any time in three easy steps: gather the documents required, apply on the e-government portal through this link, and pay the application issuance fee (300 BHD ($796) per person). The processing timeline is around one month from the submission of all the required documents.
Future of the Kingdom
The GRVP is in line with Bahrain’s 2030 vision which focuses on shaping the government, society, and economy based on three principles: sustainability, fairness, and competitiveness[iv]. The program has the potential to significantly boost foreign investment in the country. This is a golden opportunity for individuals seeking residency in the country. With the newly launched program, an individual is able to enjoy legal rights to live, work, invest, and take advantage of free healthcare services in Bahrain. As Bahrain continues to prioritize economic diversification and attract foreign investments, initiatives such as the GRVP play a crucial role in achieving these goals. The country is well-positioned to continue to thrive as a regional hub for business and investment.
[i] Foreign Investment Business Opportunities – bahrainedb.com
[ii] EDB attracts a record USD 1.1 billion in direct investment in 2022 – January 2023 bahrainedb.com
[iii] FDI Support (In collaboration with EDB) – tamkeen.com
[iv] Bahrain Economic Vison 2030 – bahrain.bh