Dubai: The overnight announcements on visa and travel restrictions in the UAE to check the spread of coronavirus has raised several questions, as residents and visitors, both within and outside the country, are seeking more details on the directives, claiming they have huge repercussions for them.
Late Wednesday night, the UAE suspended the entry of all valid visa holders, who are currently out of the country for a renewable period of two weeks effective from noon on Thursday (March 19). Earlier in the day, the Federal Authority for Citizenship and Identity temporarily suspended issue of all visas on arrival from 1 am Thursday. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation also announced a temporary ban on citizens travelling abroad, starting from Wednesday, until further notice.
Ever since the news came out, hundreds of readers have been reaching out to Gulf News for details.
Their concerns are varied: An expat father, currently overseas, wanting to know if his residence visa would be cancelled as he would complete 180 days outside the country on March 26; a mother on tourist visa that is due to expire on April 9 wondering if she can extend the visa as she does not wish to fly back to Pakistan under the current circumstances; a group of students with pre-approved visas at Dubai International seeking a resolution to their entry ban; a US passenger with an eight-hour layover in Dubai Airport en route Afghanistan asking if he will be quarantined for two weeks; an elderly couple back from New York asking if they should self-quarantine; and so on.
In an attempt to get answers to these questions, Gulf News contacted the authorities concerned. With the situation still unfolding, immediate answers could not be obtained for all the questions. But below is a gist of the most common queries by readers, with the responses:
I am visitor/tourist in the UAE and can I renew my visa?
Visitors within the UAE can extend their stay in the country by applying for a new visit or tourist visa through any tour agency, an official source told Gulf News on Thursday.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, tourists and visitors inside the country can extend their stay by applying for a new visa during their stay here.
Tourists and visitors can either leave the country when their visa expires or change the status by getting a new visa through tourist companies, the source said. Visitors can get sponsors like family members to apply for the new visa if he or she is still inside the country.
What happens if I stay on without renewing the visa?
People who stay in the country without changing their status on the expiry of their visas will be subject of fines.
Overstay fine calculator for tourists or visitor:
Dh200 for first day
Dh100 for each subsequent day, plus a one-time Dh100 processing fee.
Can I renew my residency permit now?
Residents in the UAE can renew their residency permits if they are still inside the country, an official told Gulf News.
Residents who are transferring their residency to a different sponsor inside the country can still do so too.
Moreover, if a person has cancelled his residency and cannot leave the country due to the spread of COVID-19, he can change his status by applying for a visit visa through tourist agencies, the official said.
I have a residency visa and am overseas and cannot fly. The duration of my stay abroad has crossed 180 days? What will happen to my residency?
As things stand, people with a valid UAE residency but are out of the country for more than 180 days, will have their residency cancelled if they don’t arrive in the UAE before the grace period. However, such people are advised to check with the concerned authority after two weeks for any updates or new instructions.
I am resident who went on a holiday to Mumbai and was to return on March 24. I urgently need to come back, how can I?
Holders of valid UAE residency, who are currently out of the country, were suspended from entry for a renewable period of two weeks effective noon on Thursday, March 19.
Is home quarantine a must if I’ve returned from abroad?
UAE Attorney General Hamad Al Shamsi said that every person coming to the UAE must abide by the duration of the home quarantine in his place for 14 days.
What happens if I don’t self-quarantine?
Anyone found leaving his place of residence during the quarantine period will be punishable by law. The penalty includes jail, fine or both.
If I cancel my residency and cannot travel to my home country, what should I do?
You can change your status by going to a travel agency and applying for a visit visa.
Whom should I contact to resolve my visa problem?
Contact GDRFA Amer Call Centre 8005111.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has established a round-the-clock helpline to help holders of valid residence permits abroad. Call: 0097124965228 or 0097192083344.