How to Avoid Illegal Freelancer Visas in the UAE

Author: Paul Bryson, Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone
uae-freelance-visa

The UAE’s work environment is changing. More people are leaning towards working as a freelancer, thanks to policy changes initiated by the government to make freelance work visas more accessible and affordable for everyone. 

Freelancing is an attractive career option that is becoming more popular in Dubai. Quoting a report from Algorithm Research, Dubai remains the focal point, hosting more than 65% of freelancers in the region.

Most freelancers work in the fields of graphic design, social media, health and fitness, architecture, websites and software development. Men represent 62% and women account for 38% of the UAE's freelance workforce, and a majority of them are in the age bracket between 21 and 30 years old.

Freelancing offers a wide range of advantages, including having better work flexibility, the freedom to explore as many income opportunities as you can and the right to choose the projects you want to work on. With these advantages, it’s easy to see why many professionals in the UAE are choosing to work as freelancers.

However, to work as a freelancer in the UAE, you need a residence visa and a freelancer licence. There are many visa solutions providers in the UAE and though the government has been strict and vigilant in regulating the sector, there are some that offer illegal freelancer visa solutions. A word of caution to aspiring freelancers: Beware of these visa shops.

In this article, you will find information related to visa shop scams and how you can protect yourself from them.

Protect yourself from illegal freelancer visa solutions providers

You might have seen online advertisements from some companies offering a “freelancer visa” or opportunities to make “easy money” without leaving your home. These companies promote easy freelancer visa packages on company websites, social media platforms and other places where most aspiring freelancers look for opportunities. 

Be cautious when considering freelancing opportunities online or offline. Avoid becoming a victim of freelancer scams by watching out for these warning signs:

  1. Visa shops promising work or permanent residency in the UAE in exchange for a payment. This is not legal. 

  2. Visa operators that give improper advice and encourage you to lie, omit or fabricate information in your application. 

  3. Visa shops that run multi-level marketing schemes, which require you to buy and sell their products with the promise that you will earn money fast and easy.

  4. Online freelance platforms that try to gain access to your personal accounts, such as email or social media account, and then use your personal information to access your bank accounts and steal your money.

  5. Scammers that might trick you into sharing your freelancing account details with the promise of earning extra income, but use it for other purposes, such as acquiring information about your clients and projects.

Aside from being cautious, there are other proactive steps you can take to protect yourself while looking for freelance opportunities and make sure you don’t get the short end of the stick in any project or agreement. 

  1. A good rule of thumb when working with a freelance platform is to do some research and make sure that the job you are being offered is legitimate and worth pursuing. You can search the company’s name on the National Economic Register (NER) website and get their details.

  2. Any contractual agreement between the freelancer and the company needs to have valid information, business details and terms that satisfy both parties while contributing to their respective interests.

  3. Business contracts can be tricky, especially when you are working as a freelancer. Be meticulous with every project agreement and transaction and ensure all details, especially payment terms, are crystal clear. 

  4. When confronted with a scammer, cut off the contact and report the scam to the State Audit Institution. You can report fraudulent activities via their website: https://www.saiuae.gov.ae/en/Pages/Report-Fraud.aspx.  

What is a freelancer licence or permit?

A freelancer licence allows you to operate in your personal capacity in the UAE and legally provide professional services to clients. Many UAE Free Zones issue freelancer licences, such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai Media City, Ajman Free Zone, Fujairah Creative City Free Zone and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Free Zone.

Freelancer licences are available at affordable rates, allowing you to work across a wide array of business activities, ranging from consultancy, events management, and education, to film production, new media and entertainment. Freelancer visas in Dubai can be registered under three sectors: Media (Dubai Media City), Tech (Dubai Internet City) and Education (Dubai Knowledge Park).

The cost of a freelance permit or licence depends on the free zone where you will register. Freelancer licence packages start from AED 7,500 per year. However, additional costs may apply if you need a freelancer visa under the Dubi Development Authority, which is valid for three years and is renewable every three years, an immigration card and insurance. If you are sponsored by a parent or a spouse, you do not need to cancel your residence visa. 

The total price for a freelance permit varies from AED 10,000 to AED 20,000 and depends on factors such as whether you need a 1-year or 3-year visa and whether you need a residency visa or an operational permit to work legally as a sole practitioner in the UAE.

Getting a freelancer visa in Dubai

To obtain a freelancer visa, you need to submit the following documents:

  1. Updated application form

  2. Passport copy 

  3. Passport-size photo

  4. Updated curriculum vitae (CV)

  5. Academic certificates attested by the UAE Consulate or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  6. Two professional references (with contact details)

  7. Work offer or a letter of intent (detailing your personal/professional background and work experience)

  8. No Objection Certificate (NOC) from your sponsor (if required)

*Additional documents may be required.

The concerned free zone authority will review your application, documents and references.

Get your freelancer visa with Virtuzone

To obtain the correct and legitimate freelancer visa in the UAE, it is crucial to work with a trusted and credible company. As the leading company formation specialists in the country, Virtuzone offers a suite of visa solutions and value-added business support services to freelancers. Our consultants will assist you in obtaining the most suitable freelancer visa and will handle the entire process on your behalf. 

Contact us today to know more about our freelance visa solutions. 

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Disclaimer

UAE laws and regulations as well as pricing related to company formation are subject to change without notice. While we produce our content on the basis of thorough research, laws and regulations might have changed since this content was published. Furthermore, responsibility for any information in external links lies solely with the operator of the third party website.