Picture for illustrative purposes: Students leaving school Image Credit: Pexels

Dubai: UAE-based parents of those university students or recent graduates who are currently abroad, and don’t have a valid UAE visa, are temporarily unable to apply for their return to the UAE.

Those with a valid UAE visa have been returning to their families in the UAE after following a set process of obtaining clearance from authorities. This comes after the recent easing of travel restrictions that had been introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stranded indefinitely

However, former UAE residents who are now students or recent graduates overseas, who no longer have a valid UAE visa, find themselves stranded indefinitely.

Normally, those eligible for visa-on-arrival would visit home in the UAE during study breaks or after graduation. Typically, parents could also sponsor them for entry permits pertaining to visit visas or residency visas.

However, a government official reiterated on Wednesday that the issuance of new UAE entry visas was suspended from March 19.

“Entry to the UAE is currently only permitted for UAE citizens and residency visa holders who have received permission from the authorities to return to the UAE,” the official said. People who are still inside the UAE can get a new visa or renew their residency while they are inside the country.

It is not yet clear when the situation will fully return to normal in terms of new visa applications for those abroad.

‘We don’t know what to do’

A former Dubai resident who recently graduated from a US university in May is stranded there. His father said the initial plan was to apply for a particular category of a one-year visa, which is for recent graduates, for his son (a Portuguese national) so he could return to the UAE.

“That has all gone out the window because of the situation caused by COVID, and that is fully understandable. At the moment, only UAE residency holders are able to come back in. He’s not in that category anymore and I cannot apply for his graduate one-year visa – so what do we do? He is stranded,” the father said.

“He has completed his degree so obviously he had to vacate university accommodation, which he has done. He is staying with a friend currently. Finding [extended] accommodation is another expense which we hadn’t budgeted for.

“There are lots of other parents like me in this situation. His US study visa was for five years or until completion of study. The plan was always for him to come back to us, but we don’t know what to do now.”