Dubai: Looking to diminish the need for its customers to visit its offices in person, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has adopted electronic alternatives for its processes that promise to get the job done without the hassle of having to visit the GDRFA’s branches.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, director-general of the GDRFA, said most of the directorate’s transactions are completed within 20 minutes of a customer walking into one of its branches.

“However, we are still working to develop and expedite our processes by converting most of the services to electronic format, alleviating the need for customers to visit the directorate at all.”

“Our smart application allows citizens to renew the visas of their foreign wives or domestic helpers,” Maj Gen Al Merri said, “It also allows residents to renew a family member’s visa or extend an entry permit’s validation.”

Maj Gen Al Merri said citizens can renew their passports through the app. “The app offers other services as well like cancelling a residency visa,” he said, adding: “We will soon launch a service on the app allowing companies to renew their establishment cards and their public relation officer’s card.”

Maj Gen Al Merri said the GDRFA’s employees use a visa issuance system called Auto to speed up processes.

“The employee merely fills an applicant’s data into the system for a new work or residency permit and the system generates an approval for the application,” he said. “This way visas are issued electronically without an employee’s involvement.”

Maj Gen Al Merri said an online portal has been set up for companies to submit applications for residency issuance, work permits and visit visas. “We are also planning a similar online portal for individuals to submit their applications,” he said. “This way it won’t be necessary for our customers to visit the GDRFA and they can handle their transactions from the comfort of their homes.”

Major Ali Malallah, acting deputy assistant of the director-general for entry permits and residency, said the GDRFA provided the facility to companies to register for the online portal without visiting the GDRFA’s offices. “The Zajel service collects the required documents from customers and submits them to the GDRFA, after approval and visa processing Zajel then delivers the visa to the customer.”

Maj Malallah also said a designated counter for women was recently set up at the entry permits department at the GDRFA.

Working from home

Malallah said the GDRFA recently started a work-from-home programme.

“We currently have about six employees who work for home,” he said. “The programme has been a great success so far and we plan to increase the number of employees who work for home.”

Maj Malallah said the GDRFA is always looking for suggestions on how to develop its services.

“The Directorate can always be reached by our toll-free ‘Amer’ number 8005111 for suggestions and inquiries,” he said. “We can also be contacted via our social media channels.”