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How To Apply For United Arab Emirates Digital Nomad Visa

4 min read

How To Apply For United Arab Emirates Digital Nomad Visa

The United Arab Emirates is arguably the most popular destination for long-term expats and entrepreneurs who want to live in the Middle East. However, the United Arab Emirates has also recently decided to open up to digital nomads, who only want to stay in the country for a year or less. The United Arab Emirates recently launched a digital nomad visa, which is good news for digital nomads who previously had to rely on a tourist visa or apply for residency to live there longer.

Dubai is a popular destination for many expats, as around 90% of the country’s population consists of foreigners and expats. For example, I lived in Abu Dhabi (the country's capital) for eight years, from 2011 to 2019.

The digital nomad visa can serve as a stepping stone for individuals who want to spend a year in Dubai while considering long-term residency options. Conversely, some digital nomads may merely want to spend one year or less in the United Arab Emirates and also spend time exploring regional countries.

 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Digital Nomad Visa Overview

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) digital nomad visa is the first digital nomad visa launched in the Middle East. The digital nomad visa allows freelancers or remote employees to live and work in the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates digital nomad visa is called the Remote Working Visa Scheme and was launched in March 2021. Digital nomads can spend 12 months in the United Arab Emirates on this visa and can also bring family members with them. Digital nomads can enjoy some of the same rights as residents and have access to banking and educational facilities.

Digital nomads also have the right to renew their visas for another 12 months if they still meet the same conditions as when they applied. You are free to travel globally, but your visa will automatically be cancelled if you leave the country for more than six months. The income requirements are relatively higher than many digital nomads programs, but still in reach and practical considering Dubai’s higher cost of living. To be eligible for the program, you must prove that you make at least $3,500 USD/month from your employer or through other contracts. You will also need to demonstrate that this contract will still be in force during your time in the United Arab Emirates.

 

Sharjah, UAE

Sharjah, UAE

Living in Dubai

Visiting Dubai is a pleasant experience for many expats, whether they choose to stay for months or to become residents for years. One of the key appeals of Dubai includes the ample job opportunities in the country and the fact that there is no income tax in the United Arab Emirates. Although digital nomads who apply need to work for companies outside of Dubai, it could still be helpful for them to network in the country should they decide they want to later apply for a new visa and work for a local company. It is easy to travel to other countries from Dubai if you need to travel for business, and everyone in Dubai speaks English, which makes it easy to get around the country. In my eight years there, I only learned between 100-200 words in Arabic, as everything was in English.

Furthermore, the healthcare and educational facilities have very high standards, which is especially useful if you plan to bring your family. One of the key downsides to living in Dubai is the relatively high cost of living. However, this should not be an issue if you work for a Western company, as the cost of living in Dubai is on par with many of these countries. The average salary in Dubai is near the income requirements for this digital nomad visa, so it is a good idea to ensure that your income is above this amount to enjoy a comfortable life.

The United Arab Emirates is a very comfortable place to live, with many tourist attractions to enjoy if you have time and the flexibility to travel to different cities outside of Dubai. Some popular attractions include Mosques, such as Sheikh Zayed Mosque, beach towns, Jebel Jais (the highest peak in the UAE), art museums, and desert outdoor adventures. The United Arab Emirates also has family-friendly activities for kids, such as aquariums, zoos, theme parks, and malls. Dubai is less than a four-hour flight from many destinations, such as Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Georgia, Jordan, India, Nepal, and Uzbekistan.

 

Related article: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency.

 

Dubai Fountains, Dubai, UAE

Dubai Fountains, Dubai, UAE

Application Requirements

Once you meet the income requirements and verify that you meet the other requirements, you will need to gather the following documentation before applying:

  • Copy of your passport, which is valid for the period of your proposed stay
  • Proof of employment for the next twelve months
  • Bank statements or other documents to prove that you make $3,500 USD monthly (If you’re an employee) or $5,000 USD (If you’re a business owner). These need to cover the past three months
  • Health insurance that covers you in the United Arab Emirates
  • Business owners will need to provide company formation documents and also prove that they meet the income requirements

 

Other Options Afterwards

If you have already spent 12 months living in the United Arab Emirates and want to consider other options, there are plenty of other ways to stay in the United Arab Emirates long-term. You can do this by starting a business in the United Arab Emirates, enrolling in a college, working for a local company, or considering other visa programs, such as the Golden Visa Program or Residency Visa for retirees. These visas can be valid for 2-10 years, depending on the visa, and provide you with more options while living in the United Arab Emirates. You can click here if you wish to obtain your United Arab Emirates residency.

 

Related content: Why I Moved My Family Out Of The UAE

 

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Final thoughts

This digital nomad visa may be a relatively easier option for those who do not want to apply for an investor visa or line up employment beforehand. The United Arab Emirates is a wonderful country that many expats call a long-term home, so it is well worth considering this country as an option in the future if you are serious about being a long-term expat. The only relatively challenging aspect of applying for this visa is proving that you meet the income requirements and finding a company that will continue to employ you if you work in Dubai.

 


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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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