DUBAI Tourist visas issued in Dubai have just become costlier and non-extendable, XPRESS has learnt.
Travel agents and tour operators said that the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai has increased the cost of the single entry, 30-day tourist visa from Dh210 to Dh250 from January 1, and has withdrawn the 10-day grace period and the option to extend it for a month.
While XPRESS could not get an immediate confirmation on the new development from GDRFA, travel agents and tour operators said they were applying the revised rule to all tourist visas being processed from January 1.
The agents, who earlier charged Dh300 to Dh450 to process the tourist visas, said they would pass on the additional Dh40 to visa applicants.
Kulwant Singh Lama of Lama Tours, which issues around 150,000 visas a year, said: “It is a small increase and the visa cost remains lower than in many Western countries where it can go up to Dh600.”
He said: “The non-extension clause will ensure that people will no longer misuse tourist visas. Tourist visas will now be used only by genuine tourists who want to see Dubai and all the amazing things it offers, including the hotel packages, tours and safaris.”
Mohammad Faris of Adonis Tourism said: “According to GDRFA’s new rules starting January 1, the tourist visa for 30 days cannot be extended anymore.”
The move to make the tourist visas non-extendable is being perceived as a step to check their blatant misuse in the past.
“We cannot ignore the reality that huge numbers of people enter the UAE as job seekers. Many of them don’t find the desired job within a month which forces them to extend their visas beyond 30 days. Now, such people will have to think twice before applying for the 30-day tourist visas.”
He said people who might want to stay on for more than 30 days will now have to opt for the three-month visit visa. “This may be costlier but it will be the preferred option to avoid overstay or other inconveniences.”
Thomas Cherian of ALTA said it is too early to assess the impact of the new rules. He said in the earlier regime, around 20-30 per cent of tourist visa applicants tended to get their visas extended. “This will no longer happen.”