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Can you set up a company in the UAE whilst on employment visa or family sponsored visa?

Can you set up a company in the UAE whilst on employment visa or family sponsored visa?

The short answer is yes. There are various options available. We’ll explain how, in greater detail, in this article. Read on.

an aerial view of dubai marina
An aerial view of Dubai Marina

With a global ease of doing business rank of 16, the United Arab Emirates is one of the easiest places in the world to do business. Whether you are a non-resident foreigner, resident on employment visa or resident on family sponsorship, there are various options available for you to set up a company in the UAE.

Understanding the requirements to set up a company when you are on employment or family sponsorship

As part of the onboarding due-diligence processes, most freezone and mainland jurisdictions look at verifying the following (for current UAE residents who are employed or under family sponsorship):

  • Valid UAE residency status: You will be required to submit a visa and Emirates ID Copy. This will confirm to them the validity of your residency and its type (employment/ family sponsorship/ etc.)

  • The sponsor’s non objection: An NOC will be requested from your sponsor to validate that they have no objection to you starting a business in the UAE whilst being employed or sponsored by them. This is the critical aspect. Provided that you are able to obtain this from your employer or family sponsor, you should have no hassles setting up your business in the UAE.

  • Other onboarding KYC documents: These vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but usually include your passport copy, passport photographs, business plan, education certificates, CV, etc.

An aerial view of the Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Can you set up a company as an employee in the UAE without employer NOC?

Whilst this is not possible under most circumstances, there are a few exceptional cases where you can set up a company without your sponsor or employer NOC. These vary on a case by case basis and require a more personalized answer. Please leave us an inquiry if you’d like to know more about this, we’ll get back to you.

An aerial view of the Sharjah skyline (Image credit: Lonely Planet)

Conclusive remarks:

The UAE is a land of opportunity. One ought to explore all potential avenues for growth. Having a small business supplement your salaried income is a great way to build a great future for yourself in the country and make the most of your opportunities as an expatriate.

While the option to do so is readily available it is important to obtain your employer or sponsor’s non-objection and ensure that you mitigate any conflicts of interest. It’s a good idea to draw up a non-compete agreement and review your employment terms to ensure that your responsibilities as an employee still allow you the time and ability to operate your own business.

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