Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The authorities’ new requirement of a tenancy contract and copies of utility bills to get a residence visa has not been reverted but only postponed, a top official has confirmed to Gulf News.

“The implementation of the decree is not immediate, as the authorities are allowing a grace period for people to return from the summer holidays, and people will be informed of the dates when this becomes mandatory,” the official said.

Earlier, the rule was to be implemented from June 1

According to Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, the Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affair, requesting a copy of the housing contract or electricity and water invoice to issue a residency visa, is an administrative decision aimed at maintaining accurate records of people’s places of residence.

“Many residents change their addresses, and it has become difficult for the authorities to reach them. Labourers, whose companies provide them with group housing, have to provide a document that states their address along with a letter from the company, or any contract document, that proves where they live,” Al Menhali said.

Gulf News broke the story last week that tenancy contracts and electricity bills would be mandatory to renew a residence visa or to apply for a new one from June 1.

Security purposes

“The decree aims primarily to provide addresses of all residents for security purposes. The decree does not target a specific category of people, but rather provides the residency sector with accurate, updated and correctly documented database,” Al Menhali said.

“The procedure will be unified across the UAE. It is a procedure that is applied worldwide and not only in the UAE,” he added.

A residency official told Gulf News that the new decision is aimed at improving living conditions, as well as maintaining an accurate census of families living in the UAE and the number of members in each family.

“This procedure is to prevent more than one family from living together as currently four or five families share the same housing,” he said.

“Families will not be allowed to share housing,” he added.

Responding to queries Al Menhali said those sharing accommodation must also present proof of their residence by submitting a tenancy contract or utility bill in their names.

“Those working with companies which provide them with collective accommodation must present proof of their residence, an address and a letter from the employer showing where he resides,” he added.

Al Menhali underlined that the new rule is primarily aimed at verifying the residence of all expatriates living in the UAE for security and procedural reasons.

“It is a security, administrative and service decision taken by the immigration and foreign affairs departments in the country”.

“The decision is not targeting any party or property group but it will serve those departments seeking accurate data about foreigners’ residences,” he added.