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Managing Director, Bayat Legal Services Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News


The pandemic is getting applicants to think and plan a lot more in advance even as governments recalibrate processing schedules for applications

The pandemic has had a large impact on the travel industry, which has a direct correlation to immigration demand globally. People have now lived through unprecedented times, where no matter what passport they hold, their travel capabilities have been limited to factors other than the political and economical power of their passports. This has resulted to more clients re-evaluating their options and choices by looking closer at immigration options.

At the same time, we have also experienced an increase in residency by investment enquiries, specially for the programmes that are more flexible and have more options for migration and resettlements in more stable countries.

We can clearly see a trend, where clients are thinking and planning for the next lockdown, next wave or possibly similar situations in the future.

Of course with the opportunities arising from the current circumstances, we are also experiencing challenges. Devaluation of currencies in some of our key markets has limited the spending power of some clients. This would translate into a more careful evaluation on their choices of programmes and, of course, consultants. Which means selecting the right and reliable firm to handle their migration file has become even more crucial.

Moreover, restrictions in travel have resulted in less face-to-face meetings and pushed the market to a new level of technology usage, which is not comfortable for all yet. We offer a unique high-end service in our industry. The more sensitive and life-altering your services, the more trust you need to earn from the clients. Meetings on online portals and conference calls have not yet been able to fully replace the comfort and reliability of a face-to-face consultation.

At the same time, we are also facing delays in processing applications from various government entities. Countries such as Canada and Australia closed their visa processing for a few weeks each, which resulted in a backlog of applications and extensive delays are being experienced now. One example is the Canadian visit visa application (TRV), which historically would take a few weeks for processing, now has an estimated time of 232 days, as per the official website of the government of Canada in Abu Dhabi. From all the programmes our law firm handles, the only market where we have not seen any slowdown of processing is the government of Dominica, which is mostly due to the fully automated processing system they have, which unfortunately not all markets have followed.

I believe this pandemic has had a direct impact on our industry, with more individuals thinking long term and trying to plan for a more secure future for themselves and their families. Hence, our associates are working around the clock to ensure we offer the most intensive and relevant service to our unique clientele.