Dubai, located in the UAE, just finished a major World Expo and is opening itself up to remote workers and digital nomads via its Work Remotely in Dubai program. The program involves several steps and has certain fees attached. We'll walk you through a practical example of how to apply, including all the steps you need to take.
Why Choose Dubai?
Many people move to Dubai because it is simply a regional metropolis and economic center at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Situated within a seven-hour flight of many, many European, African, and Asian capitals, Dubai has been a hub for tourism and industry for over twenty years.
Additionally, it provides:
- Hot weather, year-round
- Zero-income-tax environment for most people and companies
- High quality of life by many measures and standards
- Organized response to the pandemic
- Low-cost real estate and rental prices — relative to other "world cities" like London, Singapore, New York, Sydney, and Paris
Step 1: Application Process
Navigate to the Work Remotely from Dubai site and fill out a short application form in the browser that asks for your name, email, phone number, and country.
You will need to have or prepare the following information
- Passport with at least six months of eligibility from the date you apply. If you only have six months left, consider getting a new passport anyway.
- Health insurance coverage for the entire duration of your planned stay in the UAE.
- Digital passport photo with white background, size 45mm/35mm.
- Proof of income: at least $5,000 in employment income or business profits
- For employees, proof of employment from your current employer and at least a one-year contract
- Last month's pay stub. You may want to have the bank statement where the money landed in the bank account as well.
- Three prior bank statements (bank statements showing the salary or business profits, to be specific)
For company owners:
- Proof of ownership of the company
- Profits of $5,000 per month in prior 3 months (on average)
Be ready to send these docs for review. If you are from a country where these are not in English — you will need to get them translated and attested in English or Arabic.
Step 2: Application Follow-Up
To complete Step 1, you have a few requests or follow-up questions related to the items submitted — especially if you have freelance income or something that needs to be confirmed outside of a very clear pay cadence.
Once you have completed this, you are likely to have to provide the following answers:
- Mother’s name
- Permanent address as per Passport
- Mobile number (Cell phone number)
- Marital Status
- Confirm if you’re inside the UAE
- If you are inside the UAE, your Entry Permit Number
- If you are inside the UAE please send us the last date of your current visa
- If you are inside the UAE, Dubai Tourism will need at least one-month validity on your current visa to process your new visa
Step 3: Approval and Submission Fee
If the next step is successful, you will be informed that you meet "core requirements" and will be asked to proceed with a credit card payment of 1251 AED (UAE dirhams). Fill in your credit card details and you will get a follow-up email welcoming you to Dubai.
Other sites may be quoting a lower price in USD that may understate some of the total fees by only quoting an application fee. Ignore these.
You will get an e-visa along and possible covid-related attestation forms. Have hard copies of these with your documentation for physical arrival.
Step 4: Arrange the Medical Visit
Spoiler alert: you can actually do this step after Step 5 ("Fly to Dubai"), but it may be helpful to arrange this step before you fly.
You are asked to undertake a medical visit and will need the following items:
- A color scan of your actual passport page
- Your address in Dubai (if this is not arranged yet, you may want to get there first)
- Dubai cell phone number — check out Virgin Mobile UAE
- Your email
- Choose a physical medical center name from the table below:
Medical Centers for Dubai Remote Work Visa
- Al Lusaily Health Center
- Al Muhaisnah Medical Fitness Center
- Al Quoz Mall Medical Center
- Al Yalayis Medical Fitness Center
- Al Garhoud Medical Fitness Center
- Al Nahda Medical Fitness Center
- Hatta Hospital
The agency will also now charge you for the above-mentioned 1140 AED. There are upcharges for faster service, but we don't really find it to be necessary.
Step 5: Flight and Immigration
Jump on the best Emirates Airlines flight (or any other flight!) to Dubai and head to the UAE. If you are coming from far away, load up your work task list, or download some TV shows to binge — because some direct flights from Europe, Asia, and the Americas can be long!
You can often pick up your pre-ordered mobile number at the airport at a Virgin Mobile kiosk (or with whomever you decide to pre-order a cell phone number).
Step 6: Medical Appointment
Although there is no rush on Day 1, you do have a finite amount of time (about a month — but DO NOT wait that long) to finish the entire process and get your medical appointment done. Go do it as soon as you can. Hit the shower, drop the suitcase, kick the jet lag, and go hit up whichever medical office you chose.
The actual appointment should be well under an hour and you should get the results within two weeks.
Step 7: Biometrics
Yeah, there are a few more steps even after you have crossed the border, but you're almost done. After you get an email and PDF saying you are "fit" you can pass on the medical result to the visa agency by email and they will give you a list of offices to do biometrics and an application form.
Choose one of the biometrics service offices, print out your medical result and application form, and head over to the offices. Maybe show up early if you want to beat any lines.
Step 8: Passport Stamp
At some point, you are likely to get a call to retrieve your passport and get it stamped. Your passport will be taken away from you and not be in your possession for about a day. We have not heard of this process lasting longer than one business day but perhaps inquire about the timing if it is a Thursday or Friday before the UAE weekend.
Step 9: Pick up Residency Card
You should receive an SMS from the government about your residence card waiting at a post office. This post office may not be close to where you are staying in your hotel, unfortunately.
Go get that card, and you are now free to work remotely and live in Dubai for one whole year!