Stock aerial Dubai skyline
A virtual work visa is a one year self-sponsored residency permit that allows professionals to work remotely in the UAE. Picture used for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to have a job in the UAE to be able to live in the country on a residence visa? Even if you are employed by a company from anywhere else in the world, you can still choose to live in Dubai, if your company allows you to work remotely.

This is because the UAE offers professionals a virtual work visa – a one year visa, that allows them to live in the UAE and work remotely for companies across the world. This visa is also available to business owners or entrepreneurs, whose company is based outside the UAE. You can apply for it through Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). Here’s how.

Eligibility requirements for the Dubai virtual work visa
As per Dubai Tourism’s official website –, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Passport with a minimum of six months validity.
- Valid health insurance covering your residency in the UAE - the visa application accepts international health insurance with UAE coverage, or travel insurance with healthcare coverage. This can later be changed to a health insurance from a UAE-based provider once your visa formalities have been completed.

If you are an employee of a company - Proof of employment from a current employer with a one-year contract, a minimum salary of US$3,500 (Dh12,853) per month, the previous month's pay slip and three preceding months’ bank statements.

If you are a business owner or have a start-up – proof of ownership of the company for one year or more, subject to extension, with an average monthly income of US$3,500 (Dh12,853) or its equivalent in foreign currencies and three preceding months’ bank statements.


How to apply online for the virtual work visa for Dubai

All applications are reviewed and processed by GDRFA. To access the service, all applicants must register an online account with GDRFA. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Create an online account

•  Visit the official GDRFA website -
• Next, click on the ‘log in’ icon on the menu bar, on the top right of the screen.
• Next, click on ‘Register Now’.
• Choose the ‘Email’ option and create a username.
• Enter the following details – full name, email address, birth date.
• Create a password.
• Click ‘Send One-Time Password (OTP)’. You will then receive an email from GDRFA with an OTP.
• Enter the OTP.
• Next, you will be logged in with your new account and transferred to the smart services portal of GDRFA.

Step 2: Select the service

• In the GDRFA smart services portal, you will be able to view a personal dashboard.
• Next, click on green button – ‘New Application’.
• Select ‘New Virtual Work Entry Permit’ from the drop-down menu and click on ‘Apply’.

Step 3: Fill in the virtual work visa application form

• Enter your passport details, which include passport type, passport number, current and previous nationality.
• Next, enter the personal details:
- Enter mother’s name in English and Arabic. Once you type the mother’s name in English, the application system - automatically enters it in Arabic.
- Select marital status
- Select religion and faith
- Select your education level and profession form the drop-down menu.
- Select your first language

• Enter contact details:
- Email address
- Mobile number
- Select your preferred language for SMS updates from GDRFA – English or Arabic.

• Enter address details inside the UAE:
- Select the Emirate, city, and area.
- Enter street number, and flat or villa number.
- Enter address outside UAE, which includes selecting the country, entering the local number, city, and home address.

Step 4: Submit the required documents

• You must upload the following documents:
- Valid passport copy and recent passport sized photo.
- Valid employment contract - proof of employment from a current employer with a one-year contract validity.
- Bank statement of the last three months.
- Salary certificate proving that the applicant has a monthly income of at least US$3,500 (Dh12,853).
- Copy of valid health insurance coverage in the UAE.

Step 5: Pay the fees and submit the application

• Once you have completed the application process, click submit. Next, you will be asked to pay the fee online with your debit or credit card.
• After that, you will receive a confirmation notification that the application has been submitted, with the reference number to follow up on the application.
• According to the GDRFA website, a text message and e-mail will be sent to you with the status of the application. If there are any missing documents, you will be notified to attach the missing documents within 30 days, and if they are not attached, the request will be automatically cancelled.
• Once the application is approved, you will receive the digital version of the entry permit on your registered email address.

How much does the virtual work visa cost?

According to the official Dubai Tourism website –, the total cost of the visa is US$611 (Dh2,243), this includes the application fee, processing costs, medical examination, and Emirates ID application.

It is important to note that the final cost may vary, according to the details and information provided in the application and whether you are applying for the visa when you are in the UAE, or if you are abroad.


What are the benefits of getting a virtual work visa?

The virtual working programme was launched by Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) in 2020, and the visa is issued by Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Having a residence visa will also allow you to get access to necessities such as an Emirates ID, banking facilities, telecommunication services (phone and internet connection), and be able to get a short-term lease or send your children to school in Dubai 

Do you have any questions related to the topics covered in Living in UAE? Write to us at