Abu Dhabi: An Indian expat may have to incur heavy fines for overstaying as immigration authorities cannot stamp his visa on his hand-written passport.
Umerul Farook, a clerk at a freight forwarding company in Abu Dhabi, said his employer is unable to get his employment visa stamped unless he has a computer-generated electronic passport.
Farook said he cannot apply for a new passport under Indian rules as his existing passport is valid for another two years.
“The immigration officials rejected my visa applications saying they don’t accept hand-written passports anymore. When I went to BLS, which handles passport application processes for Indian missions, I was told that I cannot apply for a new electronic passport because my passport is valid till 2015,” Farook told XPRESS.
The UAE government is planning to phase out all hand-written passports by 2015.
The Indian missions in the UAE started issuing machine-readable passports (MRPs) - or electronic passports as they are called in 2006.
M.K. Lokesh, Indian Ambas-sador to the UAE, said there is no notification from the local government regarding non-acceptance of old passports.
“We do not have provision to issue new passports if the existing one is valid for more than a year. So we are advising citizens who face any problem to apply for new passports under ‘damaged passport’ option,” said the ambassador.
Farooq said he was asked to apply for an e-passport, stating that his existing passport is damaged.
“There was an inordinate delay in sorting out the confusion as I was made to run from one office to another. I am still waiting for my passport. My family and I got our visas cancelled on April 2. I will have to pay fines for overstaying for my wife and three children and myself if I do not get their visas stamped now,” said Farooq.
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