I am a non-GCC national, single and do not have any blood relations in Dubai who can sponsor me. I want to come to the UAE for employment purposes. Is there an independent visa category for a person like me who does not want to rely on a company’s sponsorship? Apart from opening up a company, which is difficult for me as I do not have much in the way of cash reserves, I have heard that you can purchase an independent work permit for the UAE for around US$2,000 that would be valid for three years. Is this genuine and how can I do it? AR, Pakistan
To work legally in the UAE, any non-GCC citizens must be sponsored by a company or a free zone. This can be by way of traditional employment, by setting up a company or by arranging a freelance visa via specific free zones. While property-related visas may be available in some cases, this does not permit a person to take up employment. There is no such thing as an independent working visa as residency is linked to employment, and if someone changes employer their visa must also be changed unless they are working in a free zone and transferring to another company in the same free zone. Anyone who sets up a company, whether in a free zone where they have 100 per cent ownership or in conjunction with a local partner, must effectively arrange their own visa under the company. These are sometimes called investor visas, but to all intents and purposes are the same as an employment/residency visa. Unless someone is a domestic servant, visas will be for two or three years, depending on the emirate and a few other specifics. If any company is offering “independent visas” for a fee they are doing so illegally. I have heard of companies arranging visas for people who do not work for them for a fee, but they will be submitting fake labour contracts and information to do so, and once the authorities discover this the employer will be heavily fined, the visa cancelled and the individual may face deportation.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE
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