The birth of the Freelancer Visa in the UAE

freelance visa dubai UAE

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and live. The “new normal” is a highly fluid dynamic right now of people forced to work from home. It is also dramatically disrupted the workplace environment for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

More than 90 percent of the UAE’s workforce are ex-pats. The COVID-19 aftermath saw millions of highly skilled and talented individuals forced to return to their home countries.

There was little the UAE government could do to stop the flow of the best engineers, scientists, inventors, innovators, and IT specialists from around the world leaving its borders.

Aiming to stem the “brain drain,” the UAE recognized ways to update its business laws and visa regulations. These swift changes are now transforming the Middle East into an economic hub second to none.

The Emergence of Side Hustles

98 percent of companies here in the UAE are small and medium-sized enterprises. They create 52 percent of the UAE’s annual non-oil income. And, they employ 51 percent of the workforce. That’s a large proportion of the 9.7 million people living in the UAE.

Economies around the world are suffering dearly under the COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced large companies to close or retrench large numbers of staff to survive. This forced many people into self-employment and create “side hustles” to pay their bills.

Self-employment is on the rise. That includes freelancers, digital nomads, and remote workers.

Until now, freelancers simply couldn’t work in the UAE without a new type of residence visa or a “remote work visa.” High costs, strict business licensing, tight business laws, and visa regulations meant freelancing was just not an option.

The UAE now offers new classes of work visa: a student visa, a digital nomad visa, a remote work visa, a self-employed visa, and a freelance visa. Residence visa types now include a freelance residence permit that is also ideally suited for digital nomads. In the past, full-time workers had 30 days to find a new job or were asked to leave the country – no matter their monthly income. This has now been extended to 3 months.

Full Self-Employment is now possible in the UAE

Another of the major changes is that a foreigner can now also wholly own their own business. Previously, a business startup with foreign investors needed a UAE partner to hold a 51 percent ownership stake.

Now, starting a business in the UAE is even easier than ever before.

We at Trade License Zone are excited to tell you that there are massive business opportunities in the UAE right now. Book your visa appointment today with us to discuss the ways you can increase your regular income with a business in Dubai.

New Classes of Visa

In response to these unprecedented worldwide changes, the UAE created new classes of visas. These retain talented and highly skilled individuals—and attract investors, too.

The Green and Golden Visas are here now. In a nutshell, they allow people to live and work in the UAE with far greater ease, long stay visa, and access to more business opportunities than ever before.

So, to understand the recent changes and visa regulations, consult with Trade License Zone. We’ll help you apply for the right visas, meet all visa application requirements, pass the business license application process with success, and get your company registered with the right authorities.

The Green Visa (also known as the Freelance Visa and Digital Nomad Visa)

The UAE aims the Green Visa at highly skilled individuals, investors, entrepreneurs, exceptional students and post-graduates. The Green Visa also allows applicants to apply for resident visas for themselves and their families.

Known locally as the freelancer visa and digital nomad visa, it allows foreigners to work in Dubai without the need to be sponsored by an employer. And, if a person loses their job it gives them 3 months to find another one – instead of the 30 days previously.

The UAE’s updated visa regulations perfectly reflect the fluctuating nature of the “new normal.” Remote workers, business owner, self-employed, and digital nomads can now base themselves in the UAE while even working for a company based abroad.

Living and working in the UAE has many benefits for freelancers, remote workers, and digital nomads. The top attractions are tax-free incomes, a high standard of living, and a stable currency. In terms of business, the UAE offers global exposure, a diversified economy, free international trade, and a world-leading infrastructure. East meets West in the UAE!

Eligibilty for Freelancer Visa

Skills eligible for the freelancer visa are:

  • Media (roles range from an actor, copywriter, editor, and musician to translator)
  • Education (including researcher, teacher, and education advisor)
  • Tech (everything from software development to data scientist)
  • Design (from fashion, jewelry, and personal shopping to wedding planner)

Freelancers are a more flexible, accessible, and qualified source of talent for businesses to hire for short- and long-term projects. Cost-savings is another motivator for hiring a freelancer—it is cheaper than hiring and training permanent staff.

One of the biggest benefits of this new class of visa is that freelancers don’t need to occupy office space, as with other business visas. That’s exactly how to attract remote workers!

This new visa has a straightforward application process, provided you work you a local expert such as Trade License Zone, that is.

In a nutshell, this visa type can be obtained by UAE and non-UAE residents. UAE residents wishing to start a side hustle (to be self-employed) must have proof of relevant skills and permission from their current employer. Partners or children of holders of residence permits and other business visa types must apply for a Green Visa if they wish to freelance.

Non-UAE residents can also apply for a freelancer visa and remote work visas at their local UAE embassy in their home country – or make contact with us to help arrange all that paperwork locally in the UAE.

Documentation Required for the Freelancer Visa

As with other business licenses, freelancers still need to get a relevant free zone license to operate. Applicants will still be required to submit documentation such as a business plan, yearly tax reports from your home country, bank statements, valid health insurance, and a minimum monthly income. Many free zones offer opportunities for the different types of specialists that make up the freelancer sector.

Trade License Zone can help you in applying for the relevant free zone for a freelancer visa. We will also help get your residency permit, visa fee, visa interview, guide you through the visa process for your work visa and family visas, and also help you set up a business in Dubai, UAE.

The Golden Visa

As the name suggests, this is the ultimate in UAE’s new visa types. It brings the UAE in line with many countries around the world that have adopted this visa strategy too. There are two categories of the Golden Visa: a 5-year and a 10-year visa. They designed them for investors, top business people, entrepreneurs, inventors, exceptional students, highly skilled individuals, and startups. And, their families are also allowed to stay in the UAE.

5-Year Visa

To get a 5-year visa through investment, business people will need to invest in property valued at AED 5 million or more. Startups and business ventures must have AED 500,000 capital. And, this visa class is also open to exceptional students and post-graduates that achieve an average of 95 percent or higher.

10-Year Visa

Getting a 10-year Golden Visa requires a person to invest AED 10 million into a UAE investment fund, or a company. Property can only total 40 percent of that entire investment amount.

This visa is also open to application for people with special talents such as top doctors, inventors, and business innovators.

The UAE is offering citizenship—to a very select few

The UAE has also opened up on the question of citizenship. While not open to everyone, the state is now offering permanent residency on an invitation-only basis. Only members of the Royal family can issue such invitations and must be approved by the Cabinet.

Applying for the new visas

Setting up as a freelancer, remote worker or applying for a Golden Visa in the UAE isn’t difficult—it requires an expert’s skill. To avoid delays and rejections on your freelancer visa, digital nomad visa, and unnecessary visa application fee processes, it’s a good idea to partner with a local specialist like Trade License Zone.

All you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about your business, freelance or remote work. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest. We’ll manage your visa fees, license and freelance visa applications (and visa application fees), bank account, your residence permit, communicate with all relevant departments and authorities and report back when you’re ready to begin your life in the UAE.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a Freelancer Visa in the UAE?

The Freelancer Visa costs around AED 7,500. It needs to be renewed annually – and the renewal cost is AED7,500 as well.

How do I become a Freelancer in Dubai?

Freelancing in Dubai and the UAE is a fairly new situation for all. You’ll need to apply for a residency visa and a work permit (a freelancer visa). You’ll then also need to apply for a relevant Free Zone to work in, such as Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Design District, Abu Dhabi twofour54 and others.

How do I get a Freelancer Visa in Dubai?

The Freelancer Visa is available to anyone with relevant skills. As with working in any other country, you’ll need proof of your work and skills, educational background, and business approvals for Dubai. Partnering with a local specialist such as Trade Zone License will better help you obtain your Freelancer Visa.