Freelancing is the “new norm” adopted by all the job market parties post the spread of COVID-19 and its adverse impact on the global economy, and UAE is no exception.
In the ‘Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa” recent survey conducted by a well-known job portal and You Gov, the results revealed that 62% of UAE residents would prefer to be freelancers if given the opportunity.
Previously, freelancing was a less known and less accessible option in the UAE due to the high costs, strict labor laws, and visa regulations. Still, today, the government seeks to adapt a thriving environment for all freelancers to live and work in the country.
The UAE government’s policy reforms, such as making freelancing legal and giving permits that allow individuals to work as freelancers on the side, are transforming the country’s work climate.
The breadth and prospects are also expanding, increasing the number of self-employed persons throughout the Middle East and beyond, with the UAE serving as the hub.
As companies see the advantages of having a more approachable, adaptable, and competent talent pool, freelancers are becoming an appealing alternative for short- and long-term agreements, allowing firms to save the time and money associated with recruiting permanent employees.
- Continue Reading a Complete Guide on UAE Freelance Visas
What Is a Freelance Visa in UAE?
Given the global prominence of the ‘gig economy,’ the Emirates couldn’t help but introduce freelancing visas in 2019. As the name implies, the UAE freelancing visa is one of the most common visas in the UAE, allowing the bearer to self-sponsor oneself and operate in the regions permitted.
It’s your passport to independence in one phrase! You’ll have the opportunity to reside in your favorite country, utilize your skills to generate income, and work anytime, anywhere!
What is the Difference Between the Freelance Visa and the Freelance Permit?
The TECOM Group grants the freelance permit or license, which allows the bearer to operate as a contractor and is valid annually. Although both formal licenses mean the same thing, a freelancing permit in UAE is just for people already in UAE on their spouse’s or parent’s visa. And, because they are already sponsored, they do not need a freelance visa to work in the UAE.
The freelancer permit is appropriate for individuals on dependent visas in Dubai, such as housewives and single parents.
On the other hand, those not sponsored by their parents or spouse must apply for a freelance visa in Dubai. The freelancer visa is a three-year renewable residency permit that permits the recipient to live and work in the Emirate.
To become a full-fledged freelancer, a freelancer must also get a work permit. In the UAE, such a work permit can be provided by a few licensing agencies, mostly free zones. Almost every Emirate offers a free zone where freelancing permission and visa may be obtained.
Differences Between a Freelance Visa and a Freelance Permit in Dubai, UAE
|Criteria||Freelance Visa||Freelance Permit|
|Visa Type||A residence visa in the UAE allows you to live in the country.||A permit that allows the applicant to work as a freelancer. Those who already hold UAE residence are eligible.|
|Validity||3 years||1 year|
|Sponsorship||There is no need for sponsorship.||Prior sponsorship is required to be accepted for a freelancing visa.|
|NOC||The existing sponsor must provide a NOC (if there is any). However, it is not necessary for visa renewal.||The applicant must provide a certificate of no objection from the current employer.|
|Sectors||Freelancer eligibility in UAE can be obtained in three vital sectors:
|A freelancing visa in Dubai can be obtained in the following industries:
1. Media (Dubai Media City),
2. Tech (Dubai Internet City), and
3. Education (Dubai Knowledge Park)
4. Design (Dubai Design District)
|Interdependence||Freelance visa holders may require a work permit to work lawfully as a freelancer in the UAE.||Freelance permit holders do not need a freelance visa to work as freelancers.|
|Cost||4,960 AED (Normal) or 6,340 AED (Express) for a 3-year Freelance Employment Visa
7,500 AED for 1-year Freelance Permit
2,000 AED for 1-year Establishment Card
|Dh7,500 (According to Dubai Development Authority)|
What Are the Most Prominent Advantages of Getting A Freelance Visa in UAE?
Aside from the legal aspect, which means you will have more expertise handling legal issues, there are several additional advantages to obtaining a freelancing visa in the UAE. Among them are the following:
- Government benefits– This is a government initiative, and you will receive several perks, such as a low-cost license granted for free in some zones, all thanks to the growing trend of freelancing.
- Legal status– Obtaining a freelancing permit can increase your trustworthiness with consumers while providing legal representation for your professional identity.
- Flexibility– Freelancing is likely the most flexible work on the market. Working as an independent contractor enables you to have various clients within the region or outside. You will also be able to work from any location in the UAE.
- Reduced startup expenses– For starters, you don’t need to spend on office space as an independent. You may work from home or in a shared workspace, lowering your startup costs. The permits are also reasonably priced so that you may provide your services at a cheaper cost.
- Industry assessment – Many prefer to start with a freelancing visa before advancing to business registration. Others might instead test the market before investing in a firm, which would have higher costs in the long run.
The freelancing permission lets employers evaluate the market and discover what’s out there before investing capital stakes in a losing sector.
So, How to Work Legally as a Freelancer in the UAE?
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) stated in November 2020 that freelancing licenses would be available to both UAE non-residents and residents.
The new law allows self-employed persons to live and work legally in the UAE. Applicants are not obliged to rent office space and may apply for resident permits for themselves and their families without restriction.
How to Get A Freelance Visa in UAE & How Much Does the UAE Freelance Permit/Visa Cost?
To be a freelancer in the UAE, you must obtain a residency visa and a work permit, with the criteria for residents and non-residents being as follows:
Residents of the UAE
All you need is a freelance permit to start working as a freelancer in the UAE in two cases:
- If you are on your Spouse’s or Parent’s Visa.
- If you are already working in the UAE (You’ll need to submit a work experience certificate and approval from your current employer)
Non-residents of the United Arab Emirates
If you are not a resident of the UAE, you must apply for a freelancer visa, a residence permit that permits you to live and work in the UAE as a freelancer.
There are several alternatives for both UAE residents and non-residents interested in pursuing a freelancing career in the UAE.
Many free zone alternatives provide freelancer permission, allowing you to apply for a residence visa and sponsor your family.
The activity/industry/sector will decide your choice, and you can conduct all the steps online, and costs vary depending on the case.
What Is The Talent Pass?
The ‘Talent Pass,’ equivalent to the freelancing license in Dubai, is permission or license introduced by the Dubai Airport Freezone.
Individuals interested in pursuing a freelance career in the arts, culture, Education, media, marketing, consulting, or tech can apply for the talent pass.
Applicants must first get a Talent Pass, which must be renewed each year. The candidate can apply for a residence visa after receiving the Talent Pass. They can, after that, work in the fields designated by the Talent Pass.
Where Can I Apply for & Get A Freelance Permit? Or, In UAE, who issues freelancing visas/permits?
- The following free zones presently provide a freelancing permit:
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Studio City
- Dubai Production City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai Design District
- Abu Dhabi’s twofour54
- Fujairah Creative City
- RAK Economic Free Zone
- Ajman Free zone
- Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone
It costs between AED 7,500 and AED 20,000, and it’s annually renewed. You’ll have one-year or three-year resident visa options, depending on your needs for a freelance permit or a freelance visa.
Canceling your current visa is unnecessary if you are currently a UAE resident sponsored by a parent or a spouse.
Here are some free zone choices to get you started:
You may apply for freelancer permission through twofour54’s website here. The Media Zone Authority eliminated all license charges for the first two years in the media zone. You must pay for the visa registration process as well as medical insurance.
In addition, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development has created a freelancer visa option. More information can be found here.
The Dubai Development Authority and the TECOM Group have created the GoFreelance program, which is presently accepting applications for freelance visas in four sectors: media (Dubai Media City), technology (Dubai Internet City), design (Dubai Design District), and education (Dubai Knowledge Park). You may visit their website here for more information and to apply.
The package costs AED7,500, and if a residence visa is necessary, they will guide you through the procedure and provide a business center facility if desired.
Check out these choices for freelancing and company setup from Dubai Production City and Dubai Studio City.
Ras Al Khaimah:
A permit to the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone costs AED 6,100 and provides access to business centers, various support services, and a resident visa. Please visit their website for a complete list of activities and to register.
Fujairah Creative City features a variety of alternatives starting at AED 5,750. Flexi desk, online assistance, internet access, PRO services, and PO box are available. Please visit their website for additional information.
Ajman: Ajman Free Zone (AFZA)
The freelancing package starts at AED 6,000, including the cost of a visa, Emirates ID, and limited medical insurance. You may apply under numerous activities, and it includes a three-year visa as well as Hub facilities. More information may be found by clicking here.
Umm Al Quwain:
The UAQ Free Trade Zone is intended for those working in the technology, media, and entertainment industries.
By getting a freelancing license and visa from the UAQ FTZ, you become a registered freelancer in the UAE, allowing you to practice your chosen job legally. Check out their website for additional information and to apply for a UAQ freelancing permit.
If you want to outsource your freelancing permit and visa setup, various private businesses specialize in business licenses and institutions that can perform the job for you at a fee.
This is an excellent alternative for researching your choices because they help you through them.
What Is the Lowest Cost Freelance Visa in the UAE?
The TECOM freelancing visa is the most affordable freelance visa in Dubai. It costs around AED 7500; however, there may be extra costs that you must pay all across the registration process for a freelancing visa in Dubai.
Communications and marketing jobs that qualify for a UAE freelancer visa include:
- Social Media Influencer
- Social Media Specialist
- Print Media Specialist
- PR Specialist
- Editor: Audio, Video
- Editor: Publishing
- Media Planner
- Graphic Designer
- Brand Consultant
- Content Provider
- Data Science and Analytics
- Creative Director
- Events Planner
- Market Analyst
- Web Developer
- Marketing Specialist
- New Media Specialist
- Web Designer
- Web, Mobile, Software Development, and Architecture Freelancer
How can I apply for a freelancing visa in UAE?
There are two methods to apply for a freelancing visa in UAE: selecting a service provider or doing it yourself; if you choose option one, you’ll get in touch with freelance visa service providers, where your request will be allocated to an experienced freelance visa specialist who will ensure that you receive your visa promptly and efficiently. If you select the 2nd option, you will have to apply for the visa on your own.
#1 To register as a freelancer in Emirate, you must apply for freelancing permission or license online.
Online, you can visit the GoFreelance website. Click “Go Apply,” fill in the application form and submit the required documents that include:
- Your curriculum vitae
- A recent passport photo
- Copy of passport and current visa (valid for at least 8 months)
- Bank reference letter & NOC from your UAE sponsor/employer
- Experience proof certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the UAE Consulate in your country
- Proof of educational qualifications, for example, if you want to work in Education, or your portfolio or a sample of your work if you want to work in media.
#2: After submitting your online freelancing visa application, you must follow up on it. You will be notified through email of the status of your application. Your visa may be accepted in 10-15 days.
#3: Once accepted, you must personally sign the paperwork and pay the costs at the business center in the selected sector or free zone. After completing the process, you will obtain your freelancing permission through email.]
#4: Once you have received your freelancing permission, you must gain access to AXS, TECOM’s business service portal established in collaboration with the DDA, which allows you to access various government or corporate services.
Using this portal, you must apply for an establishment card and a three-year freelance job visa under the Dubai Development Authority (DDA). Remember that both of these papers will incur extra fees.
#5: After having freelancing permission, establishment card, and freelance visa – you are just one bit away from realizing your ambition –finish the residence visa requirements in Dubai, and you’re done.
After submitting a freelance visa application in Dubai, you will obtain entrance permission within 5 to 7 business days. After applying for a freelancing visa in Dubai, you will be granted access within 5 to 7 working days.
After receiving your entry permit (valid for 60 days from the date of issue), you’ll go through some residence visa procedures, including the medical check.
After fulfilling the procedures, your resident visa will be validated and active for 3 years from the issuance day.
Now that you’re a legal freelancer, it’s time to look for possibilities in your neighborhood! Remember that the challenging phase in any path is the first one. So be patient while being driven and diligent.
What Can I Do with A UAE Freelance Visa?
The owner of a freelance visa in UAE can work in various business industries if they have freelancing permission. They can do the following with a freelancing license in their specific field:
- Work in any Emirate.
- Provide services to both people and corporations.
- Work as a freelancer for people or corporations.
- Collaborate with government agencies.
- Get paid for offered services.
How can I find work or projects now that I have a freelancing visa/permit?
One approach to finding freelancing assignments or projects is through GoFreelance, a TECOM Group effort in collaboration with the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority.
As a member of the GoFreelance community, you’ll also have access to exceptional freelance jobs in UAE to find and bid on projects and expand your network.
You can also attend walk in interviews in UAE so you can discover more about the employers and their projects.