STOCK office work
There are three types of self-sponsored work visas in the UAE - Green Visa, Golden Visa and Virtual Work. Picture used for illustrative puposes. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: If you are considering long-term residency options in the UAE or want to relocate to the country to work remotely, expatriates have the option to live and work without a sponsor.

The UAE offers three types of self-sponsorship residency visas for working individuals. Here are the details:

Where to apply for a UAE residence visa?
Visas in the UAE are issued by two authorities. For Dubai, entry permits and visas are issued by the General Directorate of Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) and the immigration authority that issues visas in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain is the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP).

1. Green visa

The Green Visa is a five-year residence permit in the UAE that does not require a sponsor. Skilled employees, freelancers and investors can apply for the Green Visa, only if they meet certain requirements.

For skilled employees

According to the UAE government’s official website -, to apply for the Green Visa, skilled employees need to meet four conditions:

1. Have a valid UAE employment contract.
2. Be classified in the first, second or third occupational level, as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) Find out more about occupation levels by reading this.
3. Hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
4. Have a salary of not less than Dh15,000 per month.

As a Green visa holder, some of the other benefits that you would enjoy is that you can sponsor first degree relatives, such as your sibling, child or parents, in the UAE and have a six-month grace period to exit the UAE, after the visa’s cancellation and expiry. Normally, the grace period for residents is shorter – for up to 30 days.

For freelancers

Self-employed individuals or freelancers can apply for the Green visa only if they meet these three requirements:

1. Have a freelancer permit from MOHRE. 
2. Proof of a Bachelor’s degree or a specialised diploma.
3. Proof of income – minimum Dh360,000 or equivalent in other currency for the last two years.


2. Golden Visa

If you are looking into long-term residency options, the Golden Visa allows expats to live, work and study in the UAE on a 10-year visa, without a sponsor. Individuals such as frontline heroes (doctors and nurses), outstanding high school students and college graduates, investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and humanitarian workers are eligible for the visa.

Benefits of the Golden Visa

• Sponsor family members including spouse, children and support staff without any limit.
• There is no restriction on the maximum duration of stay outside the UAE in order to keep the Golden Residency valid.
• A six-month e-visa will be provided to Golden Visa applicants, allowing them with enough time to complete the process of getting the Golden Visa issued.
• Family members are allowed stay in the UAE in the event of death of the original holder of the Golden Visa, until the end of their permit’s duration.


3. Virtual Work Residence Visa

Foreigners employed outside the UAE can live here legitimately on a virtual work visa. The one-year visa allows them to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work in line with the terms and conditions issued with the visa.

If you plan on working remotely from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah, you must apply for the visa through ICP and meet the following conditions:

• Prove that you work remotely for an organisation outside the UAE.
• Receive a monthly income of US$3,500 (Dh12,853) - or its equivalent in a different currency.


Dubai’s remote work programme

If you are applying for the remote work visa in Dubai, you must apply for it through GDRFA Dubai.

Dubai’s virtual work visa is valid for one year, and as per Dubai Tourism’s official website –, the applicants have to meet the following criteria:

• Passport with a minimum of six months validity.
• Valid health insurance covering your residency in the UAE.

Additionally, for those employed:
• Proof of employment from a current employer with a one-year contract validity, a minimum of US$3,500 (Dh12,853) per month salary, last month's payslip and three preceding months’ bank statements.

For business owners:
- Proof of ownership of the company for one year or more, subject to extension, with an average monthly income of US$3,500 per month (Dh12,853) or its equivalent in foreign currencies and three preceding months’ bank statements.
- Proof of work or employment outside the United Arab Emirates and that the work is conducted remotely.