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Obtaining a Freelance Permit and a Freelance Residence Visa in Dubai, UAE, in various free zones. Service offer

The United Arab Emirates is a federate state located on the Arabian Peninsula and consisting of 7 emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm al Quwain, Fujairah, and Sharjah.

A fast-growing economy, business-friendly environment, developed infrastructure, high standard of living, no tax on personal income, multicultural and safe environment – these are the reasons why the UAE attracts investors and highly qualified specialists from around the world.

The Emirate of Dubai is located on the Arabian Peninsula, in the south of the Persian Gulf. Among the seven emirates that make up the UAE, it is the most populated one and second largest after Abu Dhabi. Dubai is home to more than 20 free zones, several of which, among other things, issue licences/permits and visas to freelancers: these are Dubai Media City (DMC), Dubai Internet City (DIC), Dubai Knowledge Park (DKP), and Dubai Design District (DDD).

Major advantages of a residence visa

A residence visa enables its holder:

to do business or to work in the country (depending on the category of visa);

to become a tax resident (subject to additional conditions);

to open a bank account;

to rent property under an official contract;

to connect mobile services;

to obtain a driving licence.

Fees for obtaining a permit and a residence visa

Obtaining a Freelance Permit and a Freelance Residence Visa, inducing:
- preparing necessary documentation;
- accompanying the applicant;
- transport expenses (trip to a medical clinic and migration authority).
USD 2 200
Supporting the opening of corporate and personal bank accounts
USD 500 (stage I)
USD 1 500 (stage II)
USD 500 (stage III)

The UAE does not have such a concept as a residence permit. The country’s migration rules require the issuance of residence visas, which in practice are similar to a residence permit.

Until recently, the main ways to obtain a residence visa were:

  • based on owning a UAE onshore company (investor visa);
  • by making an employment contract with a UAE onshore company (work visa);
  • by investing in UAE real estate (including a “golden” visa).

But now it has become possible to obtain a permit and then a residence visa for freelancers who want to officially work and reside in the UAE:

  • processing time – about 2 - 4 weeks;
  • in addition to a passport, an applicant will need to have the appropriate qualifications, a health insurance policy, etc.;
  • a freelance visa is issued for 1 or 2 years and can be renewed upon expiry;
  • a freelance visa enables its holder to get a sponsored residence visa for family members, which will require proof of having rented or own UAE residential property and proof of income;
  • a holder can live in any emirate;
  • a holder can open and do business through a personal UAE bank account;
  • a permit and visa can only be issued to 1 applicant.

The following professions in the fields of technology, education, design and media are eligible for a freelance permit:

Fashion Stylist
Aerial Shoot Photographer
Graphic Designer
Information Writer
Apparel Designer
Internet Programmer
Audio / Sound Engineer
Makeup Artist
Media Specialist
Cinema Director
PR Specialist
Content Provider
Presenter (TV/Radio)
Costume Designer
Social Media Specialist
Event Management Executive
Events Planner
Web Designer
Fashion Artist
Web Developer
Fashion Designer
Fitness Trainer


A holder of a residence visa can sponsor his/her family members applying for residence visas (dependent visa):

  • spouse;
  • children:
    • sons under the age of 18;
    • sons aged from 18 to 25;
    • unmarried daughters.

Normally, it is a man who acts as sponsor. A woman’s ability to sponsor visas for family members is limited: there may be requirements for the profession or higher salary requirements than for men.

The sponsor must prove the availability of accommodation by providing a tenancy agreement or a title deed, a utility bill, as well as proof of adequate income.

Sponsored residence visas will require health insurance policies for all family members.

Getting a residence visa for a family member takes 5 - 7 working days, on average.

For information on obtaining residence visas for family members, please contact GSL consultants.

Procedure for obtaining a freelance residence visa

After obtaining a freelance permit, one can apply for a visa. The process includes several steps:

1. Opening an Establishment Card (migration file) – 3 - 5 days.

2. Submitting documents for a residence visa and obtaining an Entry Permit (permission to enter the country) – 5 - 7 days.

To obtain a residence visa, an applicant must enter the UAE with an Entry Permit. Once the Entry Permit is received (it is sent by email), one can plan a trip to the UAE. An Entry Permit is valid for 60 days.

If at the time of issuing of Entry Permit the applicant is already in the UAE, then in order to complete the issuance of a residence visa without leaving and re-entering the country, it is necessary to change the status of the visa. The service of changing the status of a visa is provided upon request and is subject to additional charges.

3. Visiting the UAE to obtain a residence visa – in most cases, a visa can be obtained within 5 working days.

The applicant needs:

  • to undergo a medical examination (blood test and chest X-ray);
  • to submit biometrics (retina and fingerprints scan).

After receiving a passport with a residence visa inserted into it, one can leave the country.

4. Obtaining a resident’s ID card – Emirates ID.

The card is issued a few days after the issuance of a visa. Personal presence is not required to collect it. It can be handed over later.

The applicant will need the following for their visa application:

  • international passport;
  • 3.5 x 4.5 photos in colour against a white background;
  • Entry Permit stamped upon arrival in the UAE;
  • CV.
For detailed advice on the procedure, documents and calculation of the total cost of obtaining residence visas, please contact a GSL consultant.

Cancellation of a residence visa

In the event of termination of the basis on which the visa was issued, a residence visa must be cancelled.

Important: A visa will automatically become invalid if the visa holder is away from the country for more than 6 months. However, it is recommended to apply for visa cancellation anyway to avoid being denied a UAE visa in the future.

Subsequent work as a freelancer

A freelancer is required to annually renew their permit by paying the relevant fee.

At the same time, freelancers registered in UAE free zones are exempt from corporate income tax, capital gains tax, property tax and other taxes, with the exception of VAT.

The UAE introduced value added tax (VAT) on 1 January 2018.

VAT as a general consumption tax applies to all transactions with goods and services unless such transaction is exempted or taxed at 0% rate.

The standard VAT rate in the UAE is 5%.

There is no obligation to register for VAT and file VAT returns unless the sales turnover within the country exceeds the registration threshold, which is AED 375 000 (~ USD 100 000) in the UAE.

Before starting a business, we recommend that an individual consult a tax adviser to assess the possible tax burden.


Obtaining a Freelance Permit and a Freelance Residence Visa, including:
- preparing, executing and agreeing the necessary documentation with the migration authorities;
- accompanying the applicant to a medical clinic for medical examination;
- accompanying the applicant to the Federal Migration Service for fingerprints scan and biometrics;
- submitting documents to the migration authority for issuing and stamping a visa;
- filing an application for and obtaining a resident’s card;
- selecting an insurance company for getting health insurance (if necessary);
- transport expenses.

Note: the following expenses are payable by the applicant additionally:

- government fees (Freelance Permit, Establishment Card, Medical Fitness Report & Emirates ID, Visa Stamping on the Passport) – approximately USD 3 780 (for a 1-year visa) and USD 3 880 (for a 2-year visa);
- cost of health insurance;
- translation and consular legalization of documents that prove the applicant’s qualification (may be requested for certain activities).

USD 2 200
Cancellation of a residence visa
The visa cancellation cost depends on the visa category and location of the applicant (in or outside the UAE).
Please ask a GSL consultant for a fee quote.
Supporting the opening of corporate and personal bank accounts, including[2]:
== services of:
- analysing the company’s structure, its activities/business model/turnover OR, in the case of a personal account, information on the individual’s sources of funds/residence/account balance;
- selecting banks individually for you – up to 3 options;
- preparing descriptions of banks indicating the criteria by which they were selected;
- preparing a description of further steps in the account opening procedure;
500 (stage I)
== services of:
- collecting and analysing the corporate and other documents required to be submitted to the selected bank;
- putting together a detailed account opening application, including complete information on the company, its owners and counterparties;
- sending the application to one of the banks of your choice;
- preparing a detailed description of all further steps in the account opening procedure;
- preparing for an interview;
- accompanying you to a personal/online meeting with a banker if necessary;
- interacting with the bank at ALL stages;
1 500 (stage II)
== payment of the remainder of the full fee, after receiving notification from the bank that the application is under final review by the bank’s compliance team;
500 (stage III)
== an additional success fee is charged if the account is opened faster than the average standard processing time, which is:
- for corporate accounts – 3 months,
- for personal accounts – 1 month.
+10% to the fee for the service

[1] The fees are valid as of January 2024. Invoices will include 5% VAT on the services rendered.

[2] For more detailed information on how fees for account opening support are calculated, please contact your GSL consultant.

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USD 2 200
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