Hello Business Hub & Startups

Into fintech? Get in with a freelance visa


24 Apr 2022

FinTech, short for financial technology, has been part of our daily activities since the start of the 21st century but only got much attention in recent years due to the push to digitise everything. Here are some ways we commonly use it for—online banking, e-commerce payments, mobile payment apps or even cryptocurrency.
It basically combines innovation with financial services through the use of specialised software and algorithms. With the rise of e-commerce, more companies have resorted to fintech services to automate online payments via computers and increasingly, on smartphones. SMEs in the UAE, which account for the majority of companies set up in the country, heavily rely on fintech to do their business. And they turn to fintech experts, be it startups or individuals, to support their businesses.
This could be in the form of Apps or built-in fintech systems that consumers can use to make purchases, pay services or for supplies. In recent years, some fintech Apps have also provided secure, convenient and on-the-go digital banking services to SMEs, including providing a fully operational business bank account, bill payments, invoicing, budgeting, and analytics.
So, if you’re one of these fintech experts seeking to go freelance so you can maximise your time and resources in our “new normal”, you’ll be happy to know that the UAE offers you this flexibility without spending too much through different free zones that offer freelance visas. That’s all you need plus your skills and a highly-reliable internet connection to kickstart your journey as a free agent.
In Dubai, you can opt for the GoFreelance package operated by the TECOM Group in partnership with the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority. This is specially created to support freelancers in the media, design, education and yes, the technology industry, where fintech experts would likely fall.
Strongly convinced that infusing diverse skills into the community would boost the UAE economy, TECOM introduced the GoFreelance package and made the process simple so that more freelance talent can join.
Add to that, TECOM also launched the GoFreelance community so that freelancers get exclusive opportunities to get new jobs, bid on projects and g their network via the Marketplace – an online platform introduced with the aim of supporting Gofreelance talent. For media freelancers, application is processed at Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Park takes care of educators and Dubai Design District for freelance designers. Tech-related professionals apply for their freelance visa at Dubai Internet City. All of these establishments are under the umbrella of TECOM Group.
So, how do you begin the process?

First, apply online for the permit and submit the following documents— Application Form; Passport copy; Visa copy (if you are applying from within the UAE); Sponsor’s NOC (if applying for a permit and you have a current residence visa).
Keep in mind that applying for a freelance visa simply gives you the legal ability to operate as a freelance professional in your field. The visa, thus, identifies you as a sole practitioner and enables you to conduct your business in your legal birth name as opposed to a brand name. That said payments for your services should also be credited under your name.
Your permit as a freelancer costs AED7,500 and you’ll have to pay separately for your residence visa valid for three years, health insurance (mandatory in Dubai), Emirates ID, visa stamping and medical test.
Bear in mind that you can still apply for a freelance visa even though you’re employed provided your employer give you a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to offer your professional services as a freelancer. F

Want to learn more about this option? Check out  www.gofreelance.ae.

You may also want to check on other free zones offering freelance visa for professionals in different fields. Here are some of them:

  • International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) - IFZA Dubai is a leading free zone that provides local and international businesses 100 percent ownership in a business and tax-friendly environment. Freelance visa for professionals in different fields is available in this free zone. Learn more at www.ifza.com
  • Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) - There are hundreds of business activities ranging from over 50 sectors such as manufacturing, energy, technology, healthcare, aviation, shipping, education, media, professional services as well as personal and community services. To know more about the activities, visit www.rakez.com .
  • Ajman Free Zone - One of the most cost-effective licenses for freelancers in the UAE, Ajman Free Zone offers 40 categories under this visa. Freelancers here are eligible for two residence visa and family sponsorship. Learn more from www.afz.ae. Other emirates like Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah also have different free zones offering freelance visa. Then there are the privately-owned companies licensed to offer this type of visa with flexible payment terms.
There are plenty of options in the UAE for those seeking opportunities as startups or freelancers and you can implore the help of Etisalat UAE (telecoms pillar of e&) to explore these possibilities.
The Emirati-owned telecoms firm has teamed up with many of these free zones to help you get that seamless start to your dream business. And you’re welcome to visit any of its offices to learn more.