Applying For A Freelance Employment Visa

Freelancers can apply for a work permit and residence visa from a select number of free zones in Dubai, including International Media Production Zone, Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Village. Your profession needs to be related to these free zones’ activities, which are predominantly media-related: artists, editors, directors, writers, engineers, producers, photographers, camera operators and technicians in the fields of film, TV, music, radio and print media.

Freelancers are granted a freelance permit, which identifies you as a sole practitioner and enables you to conduct your business in your birth name as opposed to a brand name. You will also be given a UAE residence visa. Both the permit and visa are valid for one year. This typically costs between Dhs.20,000-30,000.

The process varies between free zones, and check individual websites for specific requirements and to download forms. However, see below for the general procedure.

What to bring

  • Application form 
  • Business plan (template available)
  • Passport copy with residence visa
  • Reference letter(s) provided by current/previous employers recommending your ability to perform a particular task.
  • CV and original qualification certificates and credentials 
  • NOC (if Dubai resident) provided by sponsor allowing you to transfer the residence visa and to obtain a freelance permit. 
  • A good standing certificate issued by your bank certifying that the individual holds a satisfactory account.
  • Portfolio / samples of work


  • Various free zone authorities
  • Submit an application for provisional approval (downloadable from free zone website), along with business plan, passport copy and reference letter.
  • If provisional approval is granted, you will receive a customer confirmation letter.
  • Sign the letter and submit the remaining documents listed above for final approval.
  • Make the required payments: freelance permit fee, employee visa sponsorship fee, and first instalment for rent or office, plus deposit (if applicable); this typically costs a total of Dhs.20-30,000.
  • Sign the free zone sponsorship agreement
  • Freelance permit and residence visa are granted
  • You will then have access to a ‘hot desk’ and business facilities (including a PO Box address) within the free zone that sponsored you; this is basically a single desk in an office environment that can be shared with others.

An alternative to the freelance work permit is the freelance business licence. With this licence, you act as a company instead of as an individual. This is something that you can apply for on your own, although the process is long, complicated and costly. A more cost and time efficient option is to go through a business setup specialist, like Virtuzone.

In partnership with Fujairah's Creative City Free Zone, Virtuzone is a one-stop-shop for obtaining a freelance business licence in the UAE. They handle every practical aspect of setting up your business, from corporate registration and visa processing to liasing with UAE government agencies on your behalf, all for one fee. Virtuzone navigates the red tape so that you don't have to, making the process incredibly simple and efficient. With their help, you can have your licence in as little as seven working days.
If you’re looking to move your small business from your home country or are thinking about taking a skill and going solo, it’s probably the easiest and cheapest way to set up. Visit for more information, or the physical office in the Burj Khalifa District at Al Saaha Offices.

Latest News

View More
  • Broadway nights

    Downtown Dubai, dubbed the ‘Centre of Now’, and the nearby dynamic financial district, are hotspots for t...

  • An alternative mall experience

    There is much more than stores and eateries at The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping destinations...

  • Dubai's stunning architecture

    The UAE continues to develop at pace and almost every week makes incredible announcements. There are too many formid...

  • Eats, engines & entertainment

    The culinary culture in Dubai takes a detour from its usual gastronomic delights to introduce a new breed of ‘m...

  • Innovative workspaces around Dubai

    Traditional office settings too mundane? Or perhaps one too many distractions while working from home? We have the so...

Newsletter Subscription