The Abu Dhabi Freelancer Visa Now Includes Non-Residents

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As remote worker visas grow in popularity, freelancers are often left out of the equation. Classified by many countries as a “small business,” there are often strict rules for long stays. Abu Dhabi is trying to fix that. While Dubai has a visa for remote employees, Abu Dhabi just launched a visa for freelancers in 48 categories, according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED). 

The remote freelancer visa used to only be available to residents. Non-residents required an employer to sponsor their visa to move to the Emirate. While remote worker visas for employees launched in Dubai, Abu Dhabi remained separate and kept its own rules. Previously, only residents and citizens of the UAE could apply for the special freelancer visa. That’s now been expanded to include non-residents.

Details of the Abu Dhabi freelancer visa

According to the ADDED, freelancers in the following industries could qualify for the visa: fashion design, clothing, natural and aesthetic flowers arrangement, photography studio, event photography, videography, event management, gift packaging, jewellery design, web design, project design and management services, translation, calligraphy, drawing, statistical consultations, agricultural guidance and marketing operations management.

On top of that list, English-language Arabian news site AlArabiya quotes Abu Dhabi’s state news agency WAM, saying, “consultations related to lifestyle development, marketing studies, parliamentary studies, banking and marketing services in the fields of energy, space and logistical consultations, fitness, art works, sculpting, handicrafts, printing services, photocopying, gardening and landscaping, printing on textiles or clothes, plastering, engraving, decoration and soap-making can be practiced with the license.”

Qualification for the visa, though, is not as easy for freelancers as for employees. According to the ADDED official Twitter page, freelancers must prove the following in order to qualify: Proof of expertise such as a university degree, certificate, or accredited accomplishments and details of your contracts such as working hours, holidays, and general requirements. If your clients are public sector (e.g. government), you will need special approval from the UAE government to work locally as a freelancer.

The wave of remote work tourism

There’s a lot of discussion about whether remote work residency is the new vacation. As countries seek to regain revenues lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, extended stays to remote workers is a key strategy. 

While living in a castle or on the beach for a year is a huge draw, there’s more to it. First you have to figure out what you’ll do for transportation, food, shelter, and essential services. Then you have to ensure your home life is taken care of whatever that means for you.

Read next: Before applying for a remote worker visa, don’t forget these things.