What is the Cost of a Freelance Visa in UAE?

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Over recent years, the UAE has emerged as a prime spot for freelancers and entrepreneurs in search of new opportunities. Its tax benefits and supportive enterprise surroundings have made it a magnet for skilled professionals from around the world. If you are thinking about starting your freelancing profession inside the UAE, there is an important part to deal with: the freelancer visa and its cost. This blog will offer a comprehensive breakdown of the cost of a freelance visa in the UAE.

What is a Freelance Visa?

A freelance visa is a type of visa that allows individuals to work remotely as freelancers in a foreign country. With the rise of remote work or what we call work from home, many countries like the UAE have introduced freelance visas. Let us list down the two factors that help in getting a freelance visa, wherever you are.

  • Freelancers can find details about these visas, including the application process, validity period, cost, and eligibility requirements, on websites.
  • Freelance visas can be short-term or long-term, with some offering pathways to permanent residency or citizenship.
Two Paths to Freelance Freedom in the UAE

There are two main avenues for obtaining a freelancer visa in the UAE.

1. The Green Visa Scheme: Launched in 2021, this residence visa grants freelancers the coveted privilege of self-sponsorship. This eliminates the need for company sponsorship, offering greater flexibility and control over your work. However, qualifying for the Green Visa comes with stringent requirements:

    • Educational Qualification: You must possess a bachelor’s degree, a specialized diploma, or an equivalent qualification.
    • Income Threshold: You need to have a track record of success with a minimum annual income of AED 360,000 from self-employment for the past two years.
    • Financial Factor: Be prepared to provide evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself throughout your stay in the UAE.

2. Freelance Visa through Free Zones: Several free zones across the UAE, like Dubai Media City (DMC) and twofour54 Abu Dhabi, offer freelance visas. These visas often come with relaxed eligibility criteria compared to the Green Visa. However, you’ll typically operate under the free zone’s regulations and may have limitations on client locations.

Breakdown of Freelancer Visa Costs

Now, let’s dissect the costs associated with each visa option:

Green Visa
  • Freelance Permit: The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) charges a fee for issuing a freelance work permit. This fee can vary depending on the specific emirate you apply in but generally falls within the AED 3,000 range.
  • Medical Insurance: Mandatory health insurance is a prerequisite for obtaining any visa in the UAE. Costs vary based on your age, health conditions, and the chosen plan. Budget around AED 3,000 annually for basic coverage.
  • Emirates ID: The Emirates ID card serves as your official identification document in the UAE. Issuing fees typically range from AED 100 to AED 500 depending on the emirate.
  • Medical Test: Undergo a mandatory medical test as part of the visa application process. Fees can range from AED 300 to AED 500.
Free Zone Freelance Visa
  • Licence Fees: Free zones levy licence fees for setting up your freelance business within their jurisdiction. These fees can vary significantly depending on the chosen free zone and the type of licence obtained. Costs can range from a few thousand dirhams to tens of thousands annually. Some free zones, like twofour54, offer reduced licence fees for the initial years to attract freelancers.
  • Visa Processing Fees: Free zones typically charge processing fees for your visa application. These fees can range from AED 1,000 to AED 5,000 depending on the free zone.
How to Apply for a Freelance Visa in the UAE?

Applying for a freelancer visa in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a straightforward process, provided you meet the eligibility criteria and gather the necessary documentation.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you go through the application process.

1. First, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria before starting the application process.

2. The Freelancer Visa is typically issued by specific emirates in the UAE, like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Choose the emirate that best suits your work and lifestyle preferences.

3. Gather the necessary documentation, which often includes…

  • Valid passport with at least six months remaining validity.
  • Proof of income or a letter of engagement from a foreign company.
  • Evidence of freelance work (contracts, invoices, portfolio).
  • Passport-sized photos.
  • Completed application forms provided by the chosen emirate.

4. Present your application and documents to the authorities. Pay the required fees, which can vary depending on the emirate.

5. Depending on the emirate, you may need to undergo a medical examination (blood test, chest X-ray) to ensure you are free from contagious diseases.

6. Once your Freelancer Visa is approved, you will receive a residence permit to live and work in the UAE. Collect your visa and residence permit following the provided instructions.

7. Upon receiving your Freelancer Visa, it’s important to adhere to local laws and other remote work policies while residing and working in the UAE. 

With your freelance visa, you’re now ready to experience the diverse culture, business opportunities, and lifestyle that the UAE offers to freelance professionals.

Making the Right Choice: Green Visa vs. Free Zone Visa

So, you’ve decided to ditch the office grind and grab the top highest-paying freelance jobs in UAE. But with the UAE offering two visa options – the Green Visa and the Free Zone Visa – you might be scratching your head wondering which is the better fit. Here are a few things to consider while you choose one between two:

  • Eligibility: If you meet the income and qualification requirements, the Green Visa has greater flexibility and freedom to operate anywhere in the UAE.
  • Budget: Free zone visas can be more affordable, especially if you opt for free zones with lower license fees. However, ongoing license renewal fees can add up over time.
  • Business Activity: Some free zones cater to specific industries. Choose a free zone that aligns with your area of expertise to maximize networking opportunities.
  • Client Location: If you primarily serve clients outside the UAE, a Green Visa might be preferable as free zone visas may have restrictions on client location.
What are the Hidden Expenses to Consider?

While the costs provide a good starting point, there are some additional expenses to factor in:

  • Accommodation: Renting an apartment or co-working space can significantly impact your living expenses.
  • Transportation: Dubai’s metro system is efficient, but consider additional costs for taxis or a car if needed.
  • Expenses: Depending on your profession, you might need to factor in equipment, software subscriptions, or website maintenance costs.
Investing in Your Freelance Future

The UAE has a great environment for freelancers, but getting a visa has costs. By weighing the Green Visa and Free Zone options, along with your budget and business goals, and considering various freelance platforms in UAE, you can choose the best path for your freelance journey to begin in the UAE.

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