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Freelance visa in Dubai – what is it and what opportunities does it provide?

Just 10-20 years ago such a form of work as freelance was something unusual, non-typical. It was practiced mainly by those who were engaged in creative work. Now it has become quite commonplace, especially with the rapid development of the Internet and under the conditions of pandemic.

Freelance has a number of advantages: maximum freedom and flexibility in planning professional activities and vacation, complete freedom in organizing a workplace and the ability to regulate your workload/income independently. Tens of millions of self-employed specialists are registered on international web-sites (Upwork, FlexJobs, Simply Hired) and their number is growing every year. Success in freelancing is determined by your professional level, the quality of your personal management and the ability to sell yourself.

The rules for residents in Dubai are quite flexible, there are excellent opportunities both for those who want to start their own business, and for those who want to work for themselves as freelancers. The global trend of switching to freelance we can also notice in this country. Thus, up to 45% of well-paid qualified jobs will go to freelance in the UAE by 2025.

A freelancer license in the United Arab Emirates provides you the opportunity to work simultaneously with several local companies. A freelance license is an excellent choice for those who do not want to work within the rigid office schedule from Sunday to Thursday from 09:00 to 17:00.

So, if you want to live and work as a freelancer in the United Arab Emirates, you will need a license and freelance visa. And in this article, we are going to tell you how you can get them.

Why UAE?

Living in this country has its advantages, here are some of them:

  • Lots of opportunities. Dubai is a fast-growing metropolis with a very high level of business activity. There is a lot of work here for a wide range of people from workers and office employees to those who are involved in arts. Having a license and a freelance visa in the UAE, you get free access to this market.
  • Education. In the United Arab Emirates in general, and in Dubai in particular, there are quite a few public universities, institutes, in particular branches of foreign educational institutions, here you can easily find any professional courses.
  • Zero taxes. There are virtually no taxes for employees, entrepreneurs, freelancers and companies in the UAE, therefore Dubai is the best choice in terms of tax optimization.
  • Loyal migration policy. A resident visa (including a freelancer visa) gives its holder almost the same opportunities as those of the citizens. The main thing is not to break the laws. As long as you want to work in this country, you can renew your freelance visa again and again.
  • Good medicine. The UAE has a well-developed healthcare system. They use the best equipment and advanced medical practices, so you can be sure of your health. Low crime rate. Unlike other big cities, Dubai has a very low crime rate. You can feel calm about yourself and your family.

As you can see, there are quite enough reasons to consider the United Arab Emirates for relocation. By obtaining a freelance visa, you will discover all the benefits of living in this country.

How to get a freelance visa in the UAE?

So let's take a look at how to get a freelance visa in the UAE, and what are the requirements (in any Emirate). Your first step is the same in any case – to get a freelance license.

Obtaining a freelance license in the UAE

Here is the list of free zones in the United Arab Emirates offering freelance licenses:

  • Dubai: Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Knowledge
  • Park, Dubai Design District;
  • Abu Dhabi: Twofour54;
  • Fujairah: Fujairah Creative City;
  • Ras al-Khaimah: RAKEZ;
  • Ajman: Ajman Freezone.

So, you choose the jurisdiction and field of activity that suits you, and collect the set of necessary documents. You can go through the whole process of obtaining a license by yourself, or transfer it to a consulting company to avoid unnecessary hassle and problems. The license is issued for a period of one year (in some FTZs – for 2 years) and after the expiration of its validity period, the document can be extended. In many ways, obtaining a freelance license is similar to obtaining a license for a company, but the process is easier, faster and cheaper. A freelancer does not even need a physical office, and can order a virtual office (Flexi-Desk). Next, you have to need to open an account with a local bank. Now you can start your professional activities in this country. Freelancers have access to various types of activities, such as IT, design, content management, various types of arts, etc. To obtain a freelance license, you need to submit a package of documents confirming your qualifications, for example, diplomas, certificates, etc.

Each jurisdiction and each Emirate has its own rules governing this area, so if you do not have the time and do not want to delve into all the legal and technical intricacies, we recommend you to contact business consulting company for help.

How to get a freelance visa in Dubai?

So, we have already provided the general information on how to obtain a license, and now you are ready to apply for a freelance visa in Dubai. To do that you must collect and submit the set of documents*:

  • A copy of your international passport;
  • Photos (not older than six months);
  • Documents confirming your qualifications: diplomas and certificates (the exact list of documents depends on qualifications);
  • Reference letter from your bank
  • A CV;
  • In some cases – a short business plan with approximate expected returns.

* Depending on the chosen jurisdiction and the specifics of the activity, some other documents may be required.

After you have collected the documents, they must be handed over to our specialists. Applying for the services of our consulting company, you will get a turnkey solution. All organizational work will be made by our consultants.

The cost of obtaining a freelance visa depends on the chosen free economic zone and the type of license. The total cost of a freelance visa consists of a license, the cost of a establishment card, the cost of obtaining a freelance resident visa, as well as the cost of the services of our consultants. This is not the cheapest option, but it guarantees a result for you.

Resident Visa is issued for 2 or 3 years - depending on the chosen FTZ.

The price of a freelance visa depends on the chosen FTZ, there are both very cheap options and more expensive.

Visa processing procedure in Dubai

So, the visa application procedure looks like this:

  • You contact us;
  • We clarify your planned activity as a freelancer and send you information about the required documents and payment;
  • Our specialists carry out all the work on obtaining a license and, if necessary, a resident visa;
  • You provide us with all the necessary documents;
  • Then, within about 10 days, you will also receive your Emirates ID card (in the case of a freelance visa).

A freelance visa allows you to live and work in the country, but if you want to work not as a freelancer, but as a full-time employee, you will need a separate permit (while the visa remains unchanged).

Conclusions

With a freelance visa in the UAE, you get the rights and opportunities, like other residents, you can live and develop professionally here, you get access to medicine, education, and the real estate market in one of the safest and fastest growing countries in the world.

A freelance visa and license in Dubai allows you to work freely as an independent professional with companies from the UAE, and gives you access to the infrastructure of your free zone.

Here are examples of professions who you can get a freelance visa and residency visa in the country: actors, market research analysts, animators, audio technicians, announcers, editor-in-chiefs, journalists, instrumentalists, social media influencers, art critics, cinematographers, composers, event coordinators, marketing coordinators, correspondents, literary critics, event managers, editors, music critics, musicians, program organizers, orchestrators, writers, producers, news producers, film developers, news editors, film and television directors, lighting technicians, theater directors, software technician makeups, artists, choreographers, etc.

You can do the paperwork by yourself, or order this services from our consultants. In the second case, for a reasonable fee, you get a guaranteed result in the shortest possible time. All organizational issues will be handled by professionals.

Freelance Visa in the UAE – FAQs

What is the difference between a freelance visa and a residence visa?

In fact, their meaning is pretty much the same. A freelance visa is a type of a residence visa, it gives the same rights and opportunities as an investor visa or a property visa.

What are the taxes for freelancers in Dubai?

There are no income taxes, taxes on the withdrawal of capital and other typical types of taxes in the UAE. However, in some cases you will have to pay VAT (5% of the total profit). Those who earn less than AED 185,000 per year are not registered as VAT payers, if your earnings range from AED 185,000 to AED 385,000 per year, you can register as a VAT payer, but this is not obligatory, and if your earnings exceed AED 385,000 per year, you are required to register with the local tax office.

For how long is a freelance visa issued in the UAE?

Like a regular resident visa, a freelance visa is issued for 2 or 3 years with the right to renew it.

Can a freelancer act as a sponsor in Dubai?

Yes, as a local resident, a freelancer can act as a sponsor for his/her family members. In this case, the person can apply for dependent visas for all family members. But at the same time a freelancer cannot sponsor own employees.

How long does it take to apply for a freelance visa?

So, first you apply for a license. As a rule, it takes from 7 to 14 working days from the moment of documents submission to obtaining a license, (if no additional documents are required along with the standard set), that is, in two weeks after submitting an application, you can start working. You will be issued a freelance visa within 2-3 weeks after submitting the package of documents.

Is it legal to work as a freelancer in Dubai?

Yes, with a freelance license, you can legally work with companies and individuals in the country.

Are there geographical restrictions for freelance work in the domestic market (free zones, mainland)?

No, unlike companies in free zones, freelancers can work directly with any company in the UAE, both public and private, in the mainland and in free zones.

Is it possible to travel in the UAE with a freelance visa, enter/leave the country?

Yes, with a freelance visa, you can freely enter and leave the country, as well as travel in it. The only requirement is that you must be here at least 180 days a year.

Can I apply for a visa while outside the country?

Yes, if you are currently outside the country, you can apply for a freelance visa. But after your visa is approved, you must enter the country within 30 days from the date of the visa issue in order to complete the procedure and receive the entry stamp in your passport. And if you are unable to come to the UAE within 60 days from the date of issue, your visa may be canceled.


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