The UAE has been an ideal location for starting and growing a business for years now. Most investors find it economically stable with steady growth, larger markets, investor-friendly processes and a tax-free regime which is too attractive to pass. And setting up a business in the UAE is easier than anywhere else in the Middle-East. As it is already known, the UAE has various jurisdictions through which an individual can form a business. They are mainland, free zone, and offshore. The most beneficial amongst the three is business setup in a UAE free zone. One of the main reasons why entrepreneurs prefer a free zone is due to no compulsion of a local sponsor for the business.
Any individual or an organization that wishes to begin operations in the UAE free zones must apply for a visa prior to establishing the presence. Each Free Zone has its own authority and rules for applying. Individuals and companies that apply do so to receive benefits depending on the free zone.
Benefits of a UAE Free Zone Visa
- 100% foreign national ownership with no local affiliation
- Exemption from personal, import, and export taxes
- Exemption from corporate taxes for a fixed period of time with the option for renewal
- Availability of long-term leasing options lasting up to 25 years
- Repatriation on capital and profits
Steps to Get a UAE Free Zone Visa
Individuals who wish to open their own business in a UAE free zone are eligible to apply for residency in the UAE on either Employment Visa or with an Investor Visa. The Dubai free zone visa is issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in the UAE. Free zone visas do not deal with the UAE Ministry of Labor at all, only the Immigration Department (GDRFA). This makes the process much more straightforward but it also means that Free zone visas do not strictly allow the individuals to work outside the Free Zone (i.e. Onshore) as they do not have a full UAE Labor contract. UAE free zone visa obtaining steps are as follows:
1. Register for the E-channel Services
To apply for the E-channel services, you can take help of an agent or any authorized typing centre who will register your company with the online services by paying the necessary fees. This was started by the UAE government to streamline the visa process. This system removes the manual work and makes applying and registering much faster and transparent.
2. Apply for Employment Visa
Once you have registered for the E-channel services, the next ideal step is to apply for an employment visa. This visa is valid for 60 days and is temporary in nature. It is also called an entry permit. It takes around 5-6 days for the immigration department to mail your entry permit once it is ready.
3. Status Change
This process is important to get your visa in the free zone. It is also called “status adjustment” and can be done in three different ways i.e. in-country, out of the country, and border run. The most preferable option amongst the entrepreneurs is in-country status change. One simply has to submit the passport to the immigration who will then stamp the same and activate your employment visa.
Out of the country, the option is not available to all the nationalities hence it is always better to check with your free zone authority before leaving the country. One can activate visa by exiting and re-entering the UAE and presenting the printed employment visa the immigration officer at the airport who will then stamp and activate the visa after checking its authenticity.
4. Medical Test
The medical test is mandatory and is comprised of a blood test for any infectious diseases and a chest X-ray. This process needs 3-4 days for completion.
5. Register for an Emirate ID
Once you get the desired results for the medical test, the next step is to apply for the Emirates ID. This identity card must be carried out by the UAE citizens at all the times. To apply for the Emirates ID you will need to visit an official ID authority to make your application and after capturing certain biometric details, the card is issued.
6. Residence Visa Stamping
The final step in the UAE visa process is visa stamping. Here, the visa stamp on your passport is obtained. To get the passport stamped, you will need to submit the same to the relevant immigration authority. Free zone visa processing time is around 15 days after which you will be issued with the visa.
If you are looking to get a free zone visa in the UAE, and have little or no idea about the process, you can always take help of an advisor who is well-versed with the formalities. We at Commitbiz can take care of all the details for you right from liaising with all the government departments to informing you as soon as the visa is granted. Contact us today, even if it’s for a friendly advice.