Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior has started implementing new rules for UAE expats wanting to bring their families on residence visas, Gulf News and XPRESS can reveal.
According to a Federal government source, under revised rules, dependents such as parents and children over 18 years will no longer get visas automatically. Henceforth, such visas will be issued on humanitarian grounds or emergent reasons, said the source who did not want to be named.
Rules for expats sponsoring their wives and children under 18, however remain unchanged. Those earning a minimum of Dh5,000 per month with suitable housing allowance can bring their wife and children under 18 to the UAE on residence visas.
The government source said new measures were introduced following violations and abuse of the previous visa system.
Starting now, all visa applications will be reviewed by a special committee set up by the Ministry of Interior. Residents who earn less than Dh20,000 will not be able to sponsor these visas.
Expats holding investor visas wanting to bring their parents or children above 18 years as permanent residents in the UAE must be in business here for at least six months.
They must also provide documents from financial institutions showing their net worth.
The source said new rules were put in place after the Ministry of Interior came across several instances in which residents had violated humanitarian exemption guidelines for parents. “In some cases, the expats were not even qualified to sponsor their families,” he said.
In recent days, several expats applying for permanent visas for their parents have been turned away.
Even those earning above Dh20,000 have not been lucky.
“My mother is a widow, and I have been trying for the last seven months to bring her to Abu Dhabi on a residency visa. My application was rejected several times even after I submitted proof that she was solely dependent on me,” said Indian IT professional Vijay Manikandan, 28, who earns a monthly salary of around Dh25,000.
The public sector employee relocated to Abu Dhabi from Dubai in March this year. His mother, Varalakshmi, 58, was living with him since his father’s death in 1990.
“I took up the Abu Dhabi job after I was assured I can sponsor my mother. But when I approached the immigration desk, I was told I could not sponsor her,” said Manikandan.
Another Abu Dhabi resident, K.L, a Filipino, said his application for sponsoring his widowed mother-in-law was rejected on similar grounds.
“I had documents showing my monthly salary, two bedroom tenancy contract and proof of my mother-in-law’s widowhood.”
When an XPRESS reporter approached the GDRFA office enquiring about sponsorship rules for parents, an official said: “Whether your salary is Dh20,000 or Dh100,000, you cannot sponsor parents in Abu Dhabi.”
Typing centre staff outside GDRFA toed a similar line.
“Abu Dhabi has stopped residency permits for parents of expatriates for more than a year now,” said one of them.
“We don’t know the reason. But they are not accepting any application, regardless of how much one earns,” said another.
Many residents said they are caught in a bind as there is no one to take care of their parents back home.
Bringing them to the UAE on visit visas is expensive and not a feasible solution in the long run, they say.
“I have no option but to fly her [mother] every three months from Chennai, India. It’s an expensive proposition, but I have no choice,” said Manikandan.
“Moreover, she has to stay in India for a month after every three month visit, as the law stipulates,” he added.
With input from Abdulla Rasheed Is Abu Dhabi Editor, Gulf News