How to get a freelancer visa in UAE?

Freelancing is becoming increasingly popular and even more so in 2020 as businesses are working remotely and are willing to work with freelancers. Being a freelancer means being self-employed and hired by companies for contract work. They have the flexibility to work for various organizations without having to commit long term and have the independence to organise their own time.

In order to start working as a freelancer, a UAE residency visa and a freelance permit is required. If you already have a residency through sponsorship by an employer or family, then you simply need to apply for a permit which is renewable every year. If you do not have a UAE residence visa, you can apply for a freelance visa.

Having a freelance visa allows you to open up a company without needing upfront share capital and also gives you the option to upgrade to a full company or trade license in the future. There is no requirement of having an office space and instead can work from home or use the free zone’s office facilities. There is also no need for auditing to submit official accounts.

Another key difference between a trade license and freelance license is that only in the former can you hire employees. Freelancers in UAE do get benefits from not having to pay taxes, enjoy zero currency restrictions, can repatriate all capital and profits, and are allowed to open up a corporate account. Furthermore, a freelance visa allows you to sponsor the visa of your family.

The government in UAE has introduced initiatives to make it easier to freelance, and now many free zones are giving freelance permits and visas. They include: Dubai Media City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Design District, Dubai Knowledge Park, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone authority (RAKEZ), Fujairah Creative City and Ajman Free Zone. Which free zone to apply for depends on the type of business and your circumstances.

The application procedure can be done online and is processed quickly. Forms will have to be filled out and specific documents have to be submitted. These include: Resume / CV, passport copy and a bank reference letter. Depending in which industry you want to work in you may also need additional documents. For example, if you are applying in media, you will also need to submit a portfolio. If applying in the education sector, certain qualifications and certifications are required that need to be attested and certified in the UAE.

In some cases, you will also need a business plan. If you are applying for a permit with already a Dubai residency visa, then you will also need a No Objection Letter (NOC). This will be from your employer if sponsored by a company and similarly, if you have a Dubai residence visa through a spouse or parent, then you need a NOC from them.