An entry permit for GCC residents is valid for 60 days from the day it is issued. It allows the visitor to stay in the UAE for 30 days, and it can be extended for 60 days. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Expatriates who reside in GCC countries can now apply online for entry permits to visit UAE through Dubai. The service aims to expedite passenger movement at airports and relieve GCC residents of the hassle of waiting in queues for their visit visas, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs announced on Wednesday.

The online visa application system also features an online payment method which will help passengers avoid the long queues to pay visa fees. As of now, the online system is not compulsory but merely an option for those who would like to complete the visa issuance procedure before arriving to the country.

However, officials said that from October, all visa application processes for GCC residents must be completed online.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of the GDRFA-Dubai, said he encourages all GCC residents to apply for entry permits through the online portal.

“We are gradually introducing the system to allow the public to become more familiar with it before it becomes compulsory,” he told Gulf News. “The new system aims at making the entire entry-permit procedure a lot more convenient for GCC residents.”

Maj Gen Al Merri said the visa online service is accessible to expatriates residing in the GCC and those accompanying them, such as domestic help. “By applying and paying the fees online, they will be able to avoid the long queues at airports to get a visit visa.”

“The residency department in Dubai is working to facilitate the procedures for all visitors and residents [from GCC countries] in order to make their visit to Dubai an enjoyable experience,” Maj Gen Al Merri said.

Lt Col Talal Al Shanqeeti, Assistant of the Director-General for airport affairs at the GDRFA-Dubai, said after the beginning of October, GCC residents can no longer get entry permits at the airport upon arrival.

“All procedures will be redirected online,” he said. “At present, we are offering both options. But after October 1, 2015, GCC residents are required to complete their visa applications online before entering the country.”

Lt Col Al Shanqeeti said that the GDRFA-Dubai will distribute brochures in Arabic and English to all visitors to Dubai from any of the GCC countries in order to raise awareness on how to use the new service. Employees of the passport control counters at the airport will distribute a questionnaire on the new service to find out if people are aware of this service and how to use it.

Lt Col Al Shanqeeti called on the public to apply for the visa online via the website of the GDRFA-Dubai.