A beginner’s guide to obtaining a freelance visa in the UAE

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of jobs and careers across the world. Many, confined to their homes, decided to switch careers and start businesses of their own or freelance from the comfort of their homes. The flexibility that freelancing provides is lucrative, and having a work-life balance that’s on your own terms has inspired many to make the switch to freelancing. However, for expatriates in the UAE and foreigners who wish to work here, the freelance sector can be a little confusing.

Generally, work visas are issued by companies who are hiring employees and a sponsorship-work relationship is maintained. But in the case of a freelancer who works for themselves, such a relationship does not exist and thus, becomes confusing when the individual’s visa status comes up. In this article, we explore how you can obtain a freelance visa in the UAE easily.

Legal Freelancing

The laws and regulations of the UAE have permitted freelancers to apply for freelance licenses, which will allow them to conduct their economic activities and live legally within the country. Obtaining a freelance permit is simple and all you need to do is obtain an NOC- No Objection Certificate (if required) and submit basic documents such as passport copies. A No Objection Certificate is only required if the applicant is under parental or spousal visa, or if the applicant is a full-time employee at an establishment.

Free zones like SPC Free Zone provide NOCs to individuals who require it but cannot receive it otherwise. For freelancers who wish to obtain their license from a free zone, the process is even easier. Business setup free zones like SPC Free Zone provide freelancers with aid that can enable them to receive their licenses with ease. Registering for a license allows you to take the next steps required to obtain a visa as a freelancer.

Basic documents required for a freelance license:
A. Completed application form
B. Photocopy of passport and Emirates ID (if ID is available).
C. Auxiliary documents such as business plan and attested copies of qualification certificates, if applicable.
D. Copy of bank records to show a consistent bank record.

Once the documents are submitted, you will be required to pay the requested application fees and after approximately 10 business days, you will receive your license.

Visa Status

A. For existing residents in the UAE
If you are already under spousal or parental (dependent) visa, you need not change or update your visa to reflect your freelancer status. The only thing you would require to start your operations as a freelancer is the freelance license.

B. For Non-Residents
If you are not a resident of the country, you will need to apply for a freelancer visa, which will be available to you post obtaining the required freelance permit. You will be required to apply for an immigration establishment card first, which costs AED 2,500. Only once you’ve received this card can you proceed to apply for a freelancer employment visa. These visas are generally valid for up to three years and will need to be renewed once this period is complete.

Starting a freelance gig can be intimidating, especially if you are new to the field of freelancing. Fret not, our experts can help you! Our consultants can break down what you need to do to start your freelancing based gig with ease. Contact us at 800 SPCFZ to get your freelance permit and license today!

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