Dubai: A top official with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has warned residents and visitors against being lured by dubious advertisers on social media platforms who are peddling fake visas and jobs in the UAE.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News yesterday, Brigadier Khalaf Al Gaith, assistant director-general in charge of the Violators and Foreigners Follow-up Section at the GDRFA, said many Asians continue to be duped by illegal companies or individuals who promote fake UAE visit visas on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
We notice that people go to Facebook to get a UAE visa. Social media platforms are not government sites.
“We notice that people go to Facebook to get a UAE visa. Social media platforms are not government sites. Many people are deceived by scamsters who take their money and provide them with fake visas,” Brig Al Gaith said. “Recently we arrested a gang from Bahrain that was promoting UAE visas on Facebook. We work in close cooperation with Dubai Police and [the] Telecommunication Regulatory Authority in deleting such accounts and taking due action.”
Brigadier Al Gaith said typically those who have run into problems with the legal route to obtaining a visa in the past are the ones who approach the scamsters, thinking it is a fast and easy way out.
10071companies investigated by the GDRFA last year, to check if they had been just set up to sell visas
“These people end up losing more money as they pay more than the official fees when they apply through unknown tourist companies. Sadly, even some UAE residents get visas for their relatives or friends through dodgy companies. They know how easy it is to get a visa through official channels, but they go through illegal channels,” Brig Al Gaith added.
He said the GDRFA inspected 10,071 companies, including 584 tourist companies, in Dubai last year, to check if they were operational or had just been registered to sell visas.
“Some commercial or industrial companies issue residence visas for jobseekers to get residency which is illegal. Last year, we found 119 fake companies who were issuing such visas to individuals,” Brigadier Al Gaith said.
Non-tourism companies issuing visas were reffered to the Dubai Public Prosecution for investigation, with the owners liable to pay a fine of Dh10,000, followed by deportation.
Brigadier Al Gaith said 496 people who were staying illegally in the country and working for a new sponsor were arrested last year.
“The violators were working in 280 companies. The penalty for people who hire illegal workers is Dh50,000 per worker.”
The GDRFA Dubai has long been urging people to use its smart channels — the GDRFA website or app — to apply for visas.
119fake companies that were identified by Dubai authorities for selling fake visas last year
“It is easy to get [a] visa online by using the smart channels. If you get a visa from a company, you can visit www.dnrd.ae and double check. If your visa is genuine, the website will show your visa status and expiry date,” Brig Al Gaith said, adding if the GDRFA Dubai app is used, a special option called ‘Visa Inquiry’ tells you if the visa is genuine.
“Go for trusted sources and the best way is to go through reliable companies or visit the Dubai Tourism website as they have a list of travel companies. They mention their contact numbers and they can help the visitor,” he added.
Brig Al Gaith said more than five million entry permits were issued last year through the new smart project ‘Entry Permit 50+’ .
“Issuing an entry permit in Dubai takes only 15 seconds now as part of the new project. It is more accurate and doesn’t need human intervention,” he added.
How to avoid visa fraud
■ Don’t fall for social media adverts promising visit visas to the UAE
■ If you have an entry permit/visa issued from Dubai, please verify its validity at the GDRFA’s website www.dnrd.ae
■ Tourist visas can be issued through UAE-based airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia. They are also issued through UAE-based hotels and travel agencies.
■ Get help on visas and entry permits issued from Dubai through Amer’s chat service by calling 8005111. People outside the UAE can call 0097143139999