The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced freelance visas for a variety of categories to attract talented individuals to the country. Free zones such as Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone, Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Design District, and Ajman Free Zone offer a variety of freelance visas to both residents and foreigners for work in the UAE.
Creative City Media Free Zone in Fujairah also offers up to three activities and four visas, including one visa free of charge. In addition, it also offers Flexi-desk and PRO services for professionals working in fields such as media, events, consultancy, education, communication, marketing, music, entertainment, design, and technology.
Umm Al Quwain Free Zone also offers permits to freelancers. Ajman Free Zone offers freelance visas in 40 categories, as well as flexible co-working spaces. Members are eligible for two residence visas and family sponsorship.
Freelancers can obtain visas in the UAE through various programs and free zones. For example, “Talent Pass” is a three-year visa for freelance work launched by the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (Dafza), Dubai Culture, and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). It also includes renting office space by Dafza for professionals in fields such as media, education, art, technology, marketing, and consultancy.
How to Get Freelance Visa in UAE
Obtaining a freelance visa in Dubai requires a series of steps. The initial step is to obtain a freelancer permit from a free zone in Dubai, such as the TECOM Group’s GoFreelance initiative. To apply, you must provide a resume or CV, a recent photograph, a passport and visa copy with at least 8 months of validity, a bank reference letter, a NOC from your UAE sponsor and proof of academic qualifications or a portfolio of your work (if applicable). After submitting the application, it takes 5-7 days for the approval process, after which you will have to visit the business center in Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Media City or Dubai Internet City to present your original passport, sign the required documents and pay for the freelancer permit. Once the permit is approved, you will receive it via email.
To acquire the establishment card, you will need to have your freelancer permit and a UAE mobile number. With the establishment card, you can apply for a residence visa in Dubai which requires your original passport, a passport photo, valid medical insurance and visa (if applicable). After the application is submitted, you will receive an entry permit within a week which will be valid for 60 days.
How to Sponsor your Family After Freelance Visa in UAE
As a freelancer, if you want to sponsor your family in the UAE, you must have a valid residency permit and meet the minimum wage requirement of AED 4,000 or AED 3,000 + accommodation. The application should be submitted within 60 days of the issuance of your UAE Residence Visa. The requirements for each family member may vary, for instance, for your wife you need to submit an authenticated marriage certificate, for two wives, you need to meet the terms and conditions established by the GDRFA, for daughters you can sponsor if they are unmarried, for sons if they are 18 or under and for stepchildren you need to provide a NOC from the biological parent.
Where you can accommodate yourself to get Freelance Visa in UAE
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development also offers freelance visas for professionals in the field of accounting and auditing, analyzing and reviewing accounting and auditing systems, Shariah review consultancy for transactions of Islamic financial institutions, and consultations in tax fields.
Dubai Media City offers freelance visas for professionals in various fields related to media, with around 45 categories to apply for. BizVibez in Abu Dhabi offers freelance visas in the media, production and entertainment industries with a validity of two years. Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also offers freelance permits to media professionals.
Dubai Knowledge Park offers freelance visas for education advisors, e-learning advisors, executive coaches, researchers and trainers. Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone also offers freelance permits to educationists.
Freelancers working in the field of web, mobile, software development and architecture, IT, telecommunication networking, data science, analytics, and customer service can apply for freelance visa.
Dubai Design District offers freelance visas for apparel designers, concept designers, fashion stylists, image consultants, fashion artists, hairstylists, interior designers, object designers, personal shoppers, textile designers, visual merchandisers and wedding planners by providing all the required documents.
It is important to note that as of now, only certain sectors are permissible for freelancing in Dubai. The following is a list of activities that are currently allowed under a freelance visa in Dubai:
Employed in the media
In media, you can choose to do upto 3 activities. The freelance permit will be issued by Dubai Media City.
• Aerial Shoot Photographer
• Audio/Sound Engineer
• Brand Consultant
• Commentators: Radio, Events, Sports, Television
• Content Provider
• Creative Director
• Critics: Music, Film, Theatre
• Director: Music, Film, Television, Theatre
• Editor: Audio, Video
• Editor: Publishing
• Events Planner
• Furniture Designer
• Graphic Designer
• Lighting Specialist
• Market Analyst
• Marketing Specialist
• Media Planner
• Music Director
• New Media Specialist
• PR Specialist
• Presenter: TV, Radio
• Print Media Specialist
• Set and Exhibit Designer
• Social Media Specialist
• Social Media Influencer
• Special Effects Producer
• Wardrobe Stylist
• Web Developer
• Web Designer
Employed in education
You can only opt for one position. The freelance permit will be issued by Dubai Knowledge Park.
• Education Advisor
• eLearning Advisor
• Executive Coaching
Employed in tech
You can only opt for one position. The freelance permit will be issued by Dubai Internet City.
• Web, Mobile, Software Development and Architecture Freelancer
• IT and Telecommunication Networking Freelancer
• Data Science and Analytics Freelancer
• Customer Service Freelancer
Employed in design
You can only opt for one position. The freelance permit will be issued by Dubai Design District.
• Apparel Designer
• Concept Designer
• Costume Designer
• Fashion Artist
• Fashion Designer
• Fashion Stylist
• Image Consultant
• Hair Stylist
• Interior Designer
• Jewelry Designer
• Make-up Artist
• Object Designer
• Personal Shopper
• Textile Designer
• Visual Merchandiser
• Wedding Planner
Benefits of UAE Freelance Visa and Permit
• Flexibility to work for multiple companies
• Freedom from a 9-to-5 job
• Ability to be your own boss
• Ease of opening a corporate bank account
• No need for a separate company name
• No limit on monthly income
• Access to business centers in free zones
• Freelancers are not subject to frequent audits
• Ability to sponsor family members
• No need to rent an office space
• Freedom to travel
• Low setup costs
• Access to a large market with many potential clients.