Dubai: Staying outside the UAE for more than six months will automatically result in the cancellation of residence visas and expatriates must then obtain new visas to enter the country again," said a senior official from the Ministry of Interior.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director General of Dubai Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, told Gulf News that according to the Federal Residency Law the residence permit granted to a foreigner shall be deemed as cancelled if the period of his/her stay outside the UAE exceeds six months.

"This is not a new rule and everyone should be aware of it. No one can stay outside the country for more than six months and try to enter the country without a valid residence visa," he said.

He said earlier this rule was not enforced strictly and expatriates with valid residence visas could re-enter the country by filling out a form at the airport.

The ministry has now decided to adhere to the rule strictly at all entry points in the country, he added

However, Major General Al Merri said there are exemptions to this rule in which people under specific circumstances will be allowed to enter the country even if their stay exceeded six months abroad.

Have you or someone you know ever had issues with the residency visa? Will the new law encourage residents to return to the country within six months?