Dubai’s New Residency Program Targets Overseas Remote Workers and Digital Nomads

Dubai’s New Residency Program Targets Overseas Remote Workers and Digital Nomads

Dubai has launched a new one-year residency program targeted at overseas remote workers, digital nomads and their families. The so-called “virtual working” program gives these professionals the possibility relocate to the emirate and continue to work for their current overseas employer, while securing key documents required to rent housing, access banking services, and overall settle down.

The new program aims to address the changing world of work and demonstrate Dubai’s “progressive thinking and sustained competitiveness in today’s rapidly changing global landscape,” Sami Al Qamzi, director general of Dubai Economy, said on October 14.

Individuals accepted under the program will gain access to all services in Dubai, including telecoms, utilities, schooling, resident ID cards, banking facilities and the ability to rent accommodations.

During the tenure of the program, they will be able to have a multiple entry visa. However, they must not be out of the country for more than six months continuously or their visa will be automatically nullified.

The future of work

According to Murtaza Khan, managing partner for the Middle East and Africa at Fragomen, an immigration consultancy, while pre-COVID-19, remote work was happening to some degree, it was never captured by any form of work permit that allowed people to do that.

Murtaza Khan

Murtaza Khan

“With COVID-19 and the prevalence of remote work, it has actually come to the fore,”

Khan told the National.

“This is Dubai stepping up and putting a formal scheme around it, which is excellent.”

The pandemic has had a major effect on the world of work, forcing businesses around the world to introduce or increase remote working. Governments worldwide have responded to this rapidly evolving landscape, introducing new schemes.

Countries in the Caribbean Sea, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Aruba, and the Cayman Islands, have all launched special visas for digital nomads.

In August 2020, Estonia officially launched its new Digital Nomad Visa, the first of its kind in the European Union. At around the same time, Georgia introduced its Remotely from Georgia program which allows foreign citizens to travel to and work remotely from the Eurasian country. Now, Croatia is reportedly working on its own digital nomad visa.

Criteria for eligibility

Criteria for eligibility under Dubai’s virtual working program include having a passport with a minimum of six months validity, health insurance with United Arab Emirates (UAE) coverage validity, and a proof of employment from current employer with a one-year contract validity. Applicants must earn a minimum monthly salary of US$5,000, and must provide last month’s payslip as well as three preceding months’ bank statements.

If a company owner, the applicant must provide a proof of ownership of the company for one year or more, and provide a proof of an average monthly income of US$5,000 per month or more, in addition to providing three preceding months’ bank statements.

The program costs US$287, and is not applicable to those already holding a residency visa or who have an application already under process for residency.

The virtual working program is the latest addition into Dubai’s value proposition for startups, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which includes a ten-year residence visa for entrepreneurs, investors, specialized talents, science researchers and outstanding students, as well as a five-year residence visa for entrepreneurs.


Featured image credit: Unsplash

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