How to Get Freelance Visa in the UAE ?

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Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, isn’t just about luxury and tourism. It has transformed into an abode for freelancers by offering an environment where a flourishing remote career can be built. Through its world-class infrastructure, the emergence of the freelance economy, and the increasing number of businesses embracing flexible work arrangements, Dubai allows you to integrate fulfilling work with an exciting lifestyle. If you’re a freelancer yearning to explore your talents in Dubai, this guide will help you how to get freelance visa in UAE and kickstart your freelancing journey.

Understanding the Freelance Visa in Dubai

A freelance visa in UAE allows individuals to legally work as independent contractors. It is part of the UAE’s strategy to attract global talent and support the growing gig economy. This visa is particularly beneficial for professionals in fields such as media, technology, design, and education.

In 2018, the shift came with the introduction of the “Freelance Permit”  by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization or the MOHRE. This freelance license gave the freelancers legal recognition and the ability to get residency visas. The program started in specific free zones such as Dubai Media City and twofour54 Abu Dhabi but the success it garnered paved the way for a nationwide rollout.

Two years later, the UAE took a step forward towards the launch of the “Green Visa” scheme which offered freelancers a longer residency option. The visas were valid for up to five years. This came with relaxed eligibility criteria compared to the permit that launched two years prior. This made UAE an even more attractive destination for budding freelancers.

Types of Freelance Visas in the UAE

The two main types of freelance visas available in the UAE are:

  • Freelance Permit: This visa, typically valid for one or two years, is obtained through specific government authorities or free zones. Eligibility requirements can vary depending on the issuing entity, but generally include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification, proof of work experience, and meeting specific income thresholds in some cases.
  • Green Visa for Freelancers: This visa offers a longer residency period of five years and caters to freelancers with a higher income bracket (AED 360,000 or approximately USD 98,000 annual income for the past two years). It provides greater stability and allows for easier sponsorship of dependents.

Factors Contributing to the Rise of Freelance Visas in UAE

Several factors have contributed to the UAE’s embrace of freelance visas:

  • Economic Diversification: The UAE is actively seeking to diversify its economy beyond oil dependence. Freelancers bring a wealth of skills and expertise, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in key sectors like technology, creative industries, and consulting.
  • Global Talent Acquisition: The UAE is well aware of the global talent pool and the competitive advantage of attracting skilled freelancers. By offering freelance visas, the UAE positions itself as a destination for top international talent, fostering a more dynamic and knowledge-based economy.
  • Alignment with Modern Work Trends: The rise of the gig economy and freelance platform in UAE has created a demand for flexible work arrangements. The UAE’s freelance visa program caters to this trend, positioning itself as a hub for the modern workforce.

Benefits of Obtaining a Freelance Visa in UAE

For skilled freelancers, obtaining a UAE freelance visa offers a multitude of benefits:

  • Legal Authorization: Enables you to work legally as a freelancer in Dubai.
  • Flexibility: Freedom to work with multiple clients both locally and internationally.
  • Family Sponsorship: Ability to sponsor family members.
  • Access to Services: Eligibility for state-of-the-art healthcare and education.

How to Obtain a Freelance Visa in UAE

The process for obtaining a freelance visa in the UAE can vary depending on the chosen visa type and issuing authority. However, a general step-by-step approach looks like this:

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a freelance visa in Dubai, you generally need to meet the following criteria:

  • Professional Experience: Demonstrable experience in your field.
  • Educational Qualifications: Relevant academic background.
  • Portfolio: A strong portfolio showcasing your work.
Choosing the Right Free Zone

Dubai has several free zones offering freelance permits, each catering to different industries:

  • Dubai Media City: Ideal for media and creative professionals.
  • Dubai Internet City: Perfect for IT and tech experts.
  • Dubai Design District: Best for designers and artists.
Application Process for Freelance Visa

Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying for a freelance visa in Dubai:

  • Select a Free Zone: Choose the free zone that aligns with your profession.
  • Submit Application: Fill out the application form and submit the required documents, including your resume, portfolio, passport copy, and a professional photo.
  • Approval: Wait for approval from the free zone authority. This can take a few days to a few weeks.
  • Payment: Pay the required fees for the freelance permit and visa.
  • Medical Test and Emirates ID: Undergo a medical test and apply for an Emirates ID.
Documents Required for Freelance Visa in UAE
  • Passport Copy: Valid for at least six months.
  • Photograph: Recent passport-sized photo.
  • Resume/CV: Detailing your professional experience.
  • Portfolio: Examples of your work.
  • Educational Certificates: Verified and attested copies.

Cost of Applying Freelance Visa in UAE

The cost of a freelance visa in UAE can vary depending on the free zone and the duration of the visa. Generally, it ranges from AED 7,500 to AED 20,000. This includes the cost of the freelance permit, visa fees, medical tests, and Emirates ID.

Setting Up a Business Bank Account

After receiving your freelance visa, set up a business bank account in Dubai. This will help you manage your finances efficiently and receive payments from clients. Choose a bank that offers tailored services for freelancers.

Networking and Finding Clients

Networking is essential for finding freelance work in Dubai. Attend local networking events, workshops, and conferences to connect with potential clients and other freelancers. Join online communities and forums related to your industry to expand your reach.

Marketing Your Services

Promote your freelance services through targeted marketing strategies:

  • Online Presence: Create a professional website and utilize social media platforms.
  • Freelance Platforms: Register on platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr.
  • SEO: Use SEO techniques to enhance your website’s visibility.

Maintaining Your Freelance Visa

Renewal Process
  • Freelance visas in the UAE are typically valid for one to three years, depending on the type of visa and the applicant’s preference.
  • To renew your visa, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and submit the renewal application before the expiry date.
Compliance with Regulations
  • Freelancers must comply with the regulations governing freelance work in the UAE, including tax obligations and reporting requirements.
  • Failure to adhere to these regulations may result in fines, visa cancellation, or deportation.

Freelance Visa v/s Freelance License

The UAE offers two crucial components for freelancers: The Freelance License (Permit) and a Freelance Visa.

Freelance License grants a person the legal right to work as a freelancer while Freelance Visa provides residency within the UAE. Business Setup Consultants can streamline the application process for a Freelance License, making it less overwhelming for aspiring freelancers.

Important Considerations 

  • Freelance Visa Costs: The cost of obtaining a freelance visa can vary depending on the chosen visa type, processing fees, and additional expenses like medical insurance and establishment card fees.
  • Sponsoring Dependents: The Green Visa allows sponsorship of dependents (spouse and children) for an additional fee.
  • Free Zone vs. Mainland: Freelance visa options are available in both the UAE mainland and specific free zones. Each offers advantages and considerations. Free zones may have lower entry costs but might restrict business activities to specific sectors. Researching both options is crucial before making a decision.
  • Local Business Partner: While not always required, some freelance visa applications might benefit from having a local business partner, particularly for those without a proven track record of freelance work.

Obtaining a freelance visa in the UAE has opened doors to so many great opportunities. But that is just the first step, the next crucial step is to find the right freelance platform. Gone are the days of endless cold-calling and relying solely on personal networks. We have freelance platforms that can help you with the tedious process of finding freelance work.

The UAE’s embrace of freelance visas has helped independent workers tremendously. With its strategic location, tax benefits, and commitment to attracting global talent, the UAE has become a highly attractive destination for skilled freelancers. 

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