NAT Nilanjan de-1595434007401
Nilanjan De and family Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi/ Sharjah: Some UAE residents stranded in India claimed on Wednesday that their ICA permits for returning to the UAE have been cancelled, even as they have been notified about new COVID-19 test requirements.

The expats told Gulf News they received one email from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) Smart Services System pertaining to the rejection of ICA permits while another email asked them to get a 72-hour valid COVID-19 test result from labs approved by Pure Health, a laboratory consulting and medical supply company that has partnered with different government agencies in the UAE.

Nilanjan De, a teacher in the UAE, who received an email on the ICA permit on Wednesday, said, “I came to Mumbai on March 6 for my wedding and have been stuck here. I got my ICA approval on July 12, booked my ticket for July 26. On July 22, I received a mail saying my ICA approval is cancelled due to incompatibility. I received another mail saying I need to get my COVID-19 test done by UAE approved centre. But the nearest centre is 350km away in Gujarat.”

NAT Sunil veigas with daughter-1595434010002
Sunil Veigas with his daughter Image Credit: Supplied

Another resident Sunil Veigas said he and his daughter Sieol received a permit cancellation mail on Wednesday morning after getting an approval a few days back.

“We have a flight booking from Mangalore to Abu Dhabi for July 26. We have been directed to go to Pure Health listed labs to test for COVID-19. But there is no listed lab of Pure Health where we are,” the resident claimed.

Sharjah resident Ahmad Nawaz, who is stuck in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, said he was due for his PCR test on July 22.

But he said he too received an email from ICA in the morning. “I came to India on March 8 for a family wedding. I was supposed to return to the UAE on April 14, but due to the lockdown, I have been stuck here for more than four months. We all have ICA approvals, but now are sitting on rejections,” he claimed.

One resident said the second email stated: “Please visit one of the accredited medical centres at your place of residence to complete the COVID -19 examination. If your result is negative, we will send you the approval of your entry permission by email.

“Your travel must be within 72 hours of the test result mentioned in the examination result. Kindly note that after the 72 hours are passed, your entry permit will not be valid.”

The email also provided a link on the website of Pure Health which carried more information about the accredited examination centres and appointments, the resident added.

A response to queries sent to ICA by Gulf News is awaited.

Etihad update

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s home carrier Etihad Airways, updated on its website that passengers to Abu Dhabi will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result before they fly.

“It is compulsory for you to present your negative COVID-19 PCR test result at check-in if Abu Dhabi is your final destination. The result must be issued by an ICA-approved medical facility within 72 hours of your trip.”

The airline told passengers that they can find the closest approved medical facility on the website of Pure Health.

“If there are no testing facilities at your point of departure, or you test positive, you will not be permitted to travel. You can rearrange your flight for free, or cancel and use the value of your flight towards your next trip with Etihad Credit,” the airline added.

As reported by Gulf News on July 20, the airline had earlier announced that passengers from seven countries flying into the UAE’s capital were required to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test result not older than 72 hours before departure.

“If you are travelling to Abu Dhabi from Azerbaijan, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Philippines, Russia or Sri Lanka, you will be required to show a negative COVID-19 PCR test result received within 72 hours before departure from an approved clinic,” the airline’s previous statement on its website had said.

However, it has now been updated with the requirement made mandatory for all passengers to Abu Dhabi.

Air Arabia requirement

Sharjah’s home carrier Air Arabia had also made it mandatory for passengers from seven countries to show a negative PCR test certificate issued by an authorised lab 72 hours before boarding flights.

The airline informed passengers that the new requirement came into effect from July 17. India, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sudan and Nepal are the countries listed for this requirement by Air Arabia.

It was not immediately clear on Wednesday if the airline has made the COVID-19 test rule applicable to all passengers to Sharjah.