Abu Dhabi: Changes to the visa system take effect on Tuesday, making it easier for people to obtain visas and for authorities to track them down.
“Applicants for visit visas could obtain them within 10 minutes for no extra charges,” said Brigadier Nasser Al Awadi Al Minhali, Acting Director-General of the Federal Naturalisation and Residency Department.
“Others may have to wait for not more than 90 minutes for security checks.”
Speaking on the eve of the introduction of the new rules, Brigadier Al Minhali said a Dh1,000-refundable deposit and proof of health insurance will be mandatory for all visas.
“Sixteen types of visas have been created, including visas for medical treatment and education, to stamp out illegal stay in the country,” he said. “Documents required include passport copies, photographs of the visitor and the data of the visitor, including address in home country.”
He confirmed staff were ready, the software was in place and visas have been printed. “The system will be up and running smoothly,” Brigadier Al Minhali said.
There are several different types of visas available, with the most common being used are visit, tourist and residency visas for foreigners.
Residents can apply for a 30-day or 90-day visit visa, both of which are non-renewable, for their spouse or blood relatives of 1st or 2nd degree only. These visas will cost Dh610 and Dh1,110 respectively.
Holders can enter the country once within two months from the date of issue. Applicants will also have to pay the Dh1,000 refundable deposit and show proof of health insurance.
Only Emiratis will be allowed to sponsor friends on visit visas. Those visas may or may not be granted, depending on individual cases.
Documents proving kinship or marriage must be submitted, along with a valid reason for the required visit visa.
A foreign wife of a citizen of a GCC country can only obtain a visit visa if she holds a residence visa in the home country of her husband. Sixty-day visit visas are renewable twice, allowing for a total permitted stay of 180 days, can be obtained for domestic helpers who accompany citizens of GCC countries.
Residents in GCC countries and their domestic helpers can obtain a 30-day visit visa, renewable once for a similar period.
People of all nationalities can now enter the UAE on a tourist visa. Earlier, nationals from 79 countries in the Subcontinent, Middle East and elsewhere were not eligible for tourist visas and could come to the UAE only on visit visas.
Tourist visas for 30 days, renewable once for a similar period, can only be applied for through a licensed hotel, travel or tourism agency.
These firms must maintain a Dh75,000 bank guarantee. Tourists must be covered by health insurance. The tour company, hotel or travel agency must pay a Dh1,000 refundable deposit for each tourist coming to the UAE.
Applications must be submitted at least a week ahead of the tourists’ arrival in the country. A list of at least 10 tourists, their date of arrival, date of departure, itineraries and address in the country must also be submitted. The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior or his representative can waive the condition regarding the number of tourists.
Student visit visa
These are issued for 60 days and can be renewed twice for a similar period, for a maximum stay of 180 days. These will cost Dh1,110. Each extension will cost Dh610. Students must be registered in one of the universities in the UAE and must obtain health insurance. Additionally, a refundable deposit of Dh1,000 must also be paid.
Multiple entry visa
Business travellers who are frequent visitors to the UAE and who have a relationship with a reputable company here can obtain a multiple entry visa. This is valid for six months from the date of issue and costs Dh2,110. However, each visit must not exceed 14 days.
Visit visa for medical purposes
Those wishing to undergo treatment must obtain a visit visa for treatment purposes. These visas cost Dh1,110 for a 90-day duration. They can be renewed once for a similar period for Dh610.
Visit visa for events
Those visiting to attend conferences, exhibitions or festivals can obtain a 30-day visa for this purpose for Dh210. It is not renewable.
Visa for guests of the Government
This is a special visa granted by UAE diplomats abroad free of charge. It can only be granted for a period of up to 90 days.
Special mission entry visa
This is issued for a non-renewable 14-day period for a fee of Dh220 and a delivery charge of Dh10. Commonly known as a transit visa, it is collected by the visitor upon arrival. It is issued to businessmen and tourists sponsored by a company or commercial establishment, or a hotel licensed to operate in the UAE.
This is a newly added type of visa for the purpose of temporary work in the country. It is issued for a maximum of 180 days with a combined fee of Dh1,800. It is issued initially for three months for a fee of Dh600, and can be renewed for another three months for Dh1,200.
The visa is issued in conjunction with the Labour Ministry’s Temporary Work Permits. An applicant must obtain the permit from the Labour Ministry to get the visa.
Transit visa: It is issued to travellers transiting through UAE airports. It is issued for 96 hours and must be sponsored by an airline operating in the UAE. The visitor must have a valid ticket for onward flight. There is a charge of Dh100.
A residence visa is required for those who intend to enter the UAE to live indefinitely with a person who is already a resident. It is issued to the immediate kin of a resident for three years for a fee of Dh300.
The residence permit becomes invalid if the resident remains out of the UAE for more than six months at a time.
Parents of residents can obtain residence visas after special approval. These have a renewable validity of one year for a fee of Dh100 annually. A refundable deposit of Dh5,000 has to be paid for each parent, however.
Investor visa: These are issued to expatriate investors in partnership with locals. The foreign investor must hold a minimum stake of Dh70,000 in the share capital. Like the residence visa, it is issued for three years for a fee of Dh300.
Employment visa: Employment visa or permit is issued by the Immigration Department to a foreign national who wishes to work for a company in the UAE upon the approval of the Ministry of Labour.
It allows the holder to enter the UAE once for a period of 30 days and is valid for two months from the date of issue.
When the employee has entered the country on the basis of the employment visa, the sponsoring company will arrange to complete the formalities of stamping his residence.
Urgent visit visas: Urgent visit visas will no longer be issued, but all visas will be processed on an urgent basis.
Earlier, the Residency Department would issue a visit visa on an urgent basis for additional payment of Dh100.
Exemption: Free entry
The UAE will not charge 34 nationalities for entry visas, and the free entry permit valid for 30 days on arrival will remain unchanged. This permit is renewable for 30 more days for a fee of Dh500. These visitors will be exempt from the refundable deposit and health insurance rules.
The 34 countries are Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Malta, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Do you require any clarifications pertaining to the new visa rules? What are they? How are the changes going to impact your holiday or travel plans? Send us your comments and queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form bellow to send your comments.