Dubai: The three-month minimum visa validity rule that the Indian government had stipulated for the return of Indians stuck back home to fly out will not be applicable to UAE residents, Gulf News can reveal.
Last week, this newspaper had reported that the new visa condition set by India’s home ministry to allow international travel of Indians stranded back home was compounding the woes of several UAE residents desperately wishing to return to their host country.
The order mandating “minimum residual validity of three months” caused confusion and fear among stranded residents about their return even though the UAE government had announced the extension of all visas expiring after March 1 till the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the Indian government has clarified that the said rule will not impact the return of UAE residents with expired visas, according to a top diplomat in the UAE.
Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul told Gulf News that the consulate had taken up the matter with New Delhi and it was clarified that the said condition will not impact UAE residents wishing to return from India.
“It is not a problem since the UAE government itself has said all visas will remain valid till the end of December.”
He said the consulate had been informed that the said clause was part of general guidelines for movement of Indians out of India.
“It will not inconvenience people wishing to come back to the UAE.”
He said appropriate instruction would be issued to airlines and immigration authorities to allow UAE residents with expired visas to fly back once the UAE government permits their return.
“Whenever a person [with expired visa] is returning, the airline and immigration authorities will have the clearance [from the UAE],” he added.
However, no official notification is known to have been issued in this regard.
Residents relieved, yet seek clarity
The government’s clarification has been welcomed by UAE residents who are stuck back home and had demanded an urgent solution for their concerns.
Mohammad Hassan Bengre from Karnataka, who was concerned about his two-year-old son Mohammad Hanzalah’s visa expiring on June 20, was relieved to hear the news.
Hassan was worried if his son would be allowed to fly back when he, his wife Sheikh Zamzam and elder daughter Khadeeja Zoha get permission to return.
“I’m glad that my son’s expired visa won’t be an issue to travel back to the UAE. I thank Gulf News for taking up this matter,” said Hassan who has been stuck in Karnataka since February 29.
Rohit Mahajan, 48, who has been stranded in Chandigarh since March 8, is among those who will benefit from the relaxation of the visa validity rule as his visa had expired on May 5.
However, he was also not convinced that the move will be of help “unless we have clear plans to return,” said Mahajan who had flown to India to take care of his ailing father who passed away two days after he reached home.
“When Gulf News published the article last week, we were so hopeful on ICA approvals after June 1. We tried clarifying all other things like expired visas etc. which could have caused any hindrance to our return to the UAE. However, without having the approval to enter the UAE till date, we all remain where we were three months back,” he said.
Social worker K.V. Shamsudheen, who had appealed to India’s Home Minister Amit Shah through the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi to change the rule and permit all UAE residents to travel back from India, also welcomed the clarification from the government.