Dubai: Have the latest announcements related to amnesty, visa fine waivers and validity extensions left you confused? Here is your ultimate guide to the latest rules related to COVID-19 made by UAE’s authorities.
The dates you should know
There are three calendar entries that you need to bear in mind to understand all the rules surrounding visa-related reliefs and decisions in the UAE.
March 1 – this is the date that draws the line between which expired visa holders have an extension, and which need to avail of the amnesty. More details below.
May 18 – This is the day the three month amnesty came into effect.
August 18 – this is the day, as announced by UAE authorities, that the three-month amnesty will end.
With these main dates cleared up, here are all the announcements made by UAE authorities that can affect you.
My visa expired before March 1, 2020
If your visa expired before March 1, 2020, and you were unable to leave the country due to the coronavirus restrictions, an amnesty has been announced from May 18 till August 18.
This applies to residence visas, tourist visas as well as visit visas.
The entry permit holders can leave the country without paying any fines, during this amnesty.
What is the amnesty?
The Council of Ministers issued a decree exempting all violators of the ‘Law on Entry and Residence of Foreigners’ from all fines incurred by them, if the violation occurred before March 1, 2020, if they are leaving the country during a three-month period starting from May 18.
The rules include exemption from all fines incurred by the beneficiary, whether those related to their Emirates ID or the expired work permit.
Also, seeking the amnesty will not prevent you from returning the UAE at a later date, provided you meet the necessary conditions for it.
So, if you wish to avail the amnesty …
1. You should be having a visa which expired before March 1.
2. You can only exit the UAE during the three-month period.
3. You would be exempt from paying any fines related to visa overstay, Emirates ID or work permit expiry.
4. You can return to the UAE at a later date, by applying for a new visa.
But I wish to stay in the UAE
The waiver only applies if you are leaving the country. If you wish to stay within the country you will need to pay overstay fines and correct your visa status by applying for a new UAE visa.
My visa expired after March 1, 2020
Any entry permit, whether it is a tourist, visit, on-arrival, employment, mission, residency or GCC visa – if the visa holder is inside the country – has been extended till December 31, 2020.
Residence visa holders outside the country also benefit from this visa extension, and they can return to the UAE, even if they have been outside the UAE for more than 180 days.
My visa got cancelled
Whether your visa got cancelled before or after March 1, 2020, cancelled residence or e-visas are not included in the amnesty programme.
If you were unable to leave the country before the travel restrictions were implemented, you would be required to change your visa status and apply for a new residence, visit or tourist visa.
Failing to do so would lead to the implementation of visa overstay fines.
How to calculate overstay fines
• Dh225 for the first day
• Dh25 for each subsequent day, till the first 180 days
• Dh50 for each subsequent day, till the first year
• Dh100 for each day after that
Where can I go to apply for visas?
For residence or employment visa, the applicant would need to go to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
In Dubai, you would need to visit an Amer Centre branch. During COVID-19 restrictions, the following branches are operating:
Al Manara branch
8am to 7pm
Al Twar branch
8am to 7pm
Airport Services, Terminal 3
This branch is located inside Terminal 3 at Dubai Airport and operates 24/7.
You would need to visit a GDRFA office at your emirate. GDRFA offices have opened across the UAE. You can also visit a Tasheel centre that offers visa and immigration services from GDRFA.
To apply for a visit or tourist visa, you simply need to reach out to a travel agency, who will process the visa.