Thanks to the rapid development of technological progress, people have a great opportunity to work remotely, without adjusting to a certain schedule and working conditions. Remote work is called freelancing and it provides a lot of opportunities which is why every year more and more people switch to freelancing finding themselves in one area or another. There are many talented designers, writers, researchers, coaches, auditors, photographers, etc. among freelancers. That is why in order to attract talented and qualified personnel in various industries the UAE has developed a so-called freelancer visa which allows a freelancer to officially stay in Dubai (or any other emirate), earn money and at the same time enjoy being in this amazing eastern country.
Among remote employees and freelancers Dubai is considered to be the most popular. Freelancers can work in this city on the basis of 2 visas:
- Green visa.
- Freelance visa.
The Green Visa is a new 5-year visa designed for talented freelancers, skilled telecommuters, investors and entrepreneurs. It was introduced not so long ago – in April 2022. The main goal of the introduction is to attract and retain the best talent in the UAE and increase the flexibility of the labor market. This visa is not linked to a work permit. And this is precisely its main feature and difference from other types of visa permits. After the expiration of the visa or the loss of a place of employment, a foreign resident has the right to stay in the country for another 180 days.
To obtain a green visa, it is not necessary to have a sponsor or employer, the main criterion is the availability of permission for freelancing or self-employment which can be obtained from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
But not everything is so simple. Only freelancers who have a higher education diploma with a bachelor’s or specialist’s degree can apply for a green visa. In addition, the applicant for such a permit must prove that his annual income over the past two years was at least 98 thousand dollars.
It is also worth noting that the children of a freelancer who has received a Green Visa have the right to reside in the UAE (provided that the child is no more than 25 years old, this rule does not apply to unmarried daughters).
Freelance UAE visa
A freelance visa is called a freelancer visa. This is a residence permit and a permit to work in the UAE. The freelancer visa in Dubai is designed for self-employed workers in various industries: IT technology, design, media, education, etc.
But in order to obtain a freelance visa, a foreign resident first needs to obtain a freelancing license or a freelancing permit. Both types of documents are processed in the Free Zone. Depending on the emirate the duration of the documents and their cost may vary.
Important: regardless of the place of registration, a freelancing license or permit is valid throughout the United Arab Emirates.
In Ajman Free zone you can get a freelance license for 40 categories of self-employment (event direction, literature, audit, management, etc.). The cost of registration is 6 thousand dirhams. Based on the obtained license a visa is issued for a period of 3 years. In the Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone a document can be issued by representatives of creative professions and technology. Price – 8 thousand dirhams, a visa is also issued for 3 years.
Media and educational professionals should contact Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone. You will have to pay 6,100 dirhams for a permit, the validity period is 2 years. When applying for a license in Fujairah Creative City, it is worth remembering that it will not be possible to obtain it without a rented office in this free economic zone. It is here that the highest price for obtaining a license is from 11 thousand dirhams.
Designers can get permission from the Dubai Design District, the visa is issued for 1-3 years, the average cost of registration is 7520 dirhams. Representatives of the educational sector to obtain a freelance license in Dubai need to apply to Dubai Knowledge Park, and specialists in technical professions to Dubai Internet City. Documents are submitted on the website of each of the free economic zones.
To obtain a license, the applicant will need to collect and submit a package of documents consisting of:
- Scan of foreign passport.
- Permits to stay in the UAE (if available).
- Digital photo.
- NOC from a sponsor.
An electronically completed form for obtaining a license.
Letters of recommendation (at least 2). Recommendations must contain the contact information of the authors of the letters.
In addition, a job offer and documents confirming the availability of appropriate qualifications must be attached to the list of documents. These documents can be diplomas and certificates which are officially certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE.
The processing time ranges from 2 to 5 days. After approval a notification and payment details are sent to the applicant’s email address.
The next step is to issue an establishment card in the zone where the license was issued. An establishment card can also be issued on the AXS platform (access to it is provided after obtaining a permit or license). An establishment card is issued on the basis of a license and an application. The processing fee is 2,000 dirhams. On average, it takes 10-14 working days. The card is issued for a period of 1 year with the possibility of extension in the future.
To open the freelancer visa itself, you will need an establishment card, a license, a foreign passport and medical insurance (in rare cases, a bank statement may be required). All these documents are submitted at the UAE Embassy in the country of actual residence. After submitting an application, a foreign resident receives an entry permit to the UAE for a period of 5 to 7 days to undergo a medical examination.
The main advantages of a freelance visa:
- Children of the freelancer visa holder under the age of 25 are entitled to reside and stay in the UAE. An exception applies only to daughters who are not yet officially married.
- The possibility of obtaining a loan or opening a current account in one of the local banks in the UAE.
- No need to audit and declare income.
- Opportunity to collaborate with multiple employers as an independent contractor.
- Free crossing of the borders of the UAE.
- No need to rent an office for work.
And the most important and significant plus for freelancers in the UAE is taxes. If a remote worker earns up to $51,050 per year, then he is exempt from paying tax payments but if his salary fluctuates between $51,020-102,100, then taxes are paid on a voluntary basis. Mandatory tax payment is established only on annual income over $102,100.