Dubai: Living in the UAE can come with its special set of queries – which visa do I need to apply for? What are the fees? What do I do if I have overstayed my visa?
Followers of Gulf News’ official Facebook page got all these questions answered, and more, directly from the authorities. During a Facebook live session that lasted over 70 minutes, Major Salem Bin Ali, Director of Amer Client Happiness Department at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), answered every question that came his way from Gulf News readers.
“In the UAE we like to welcome everyone and we have strict orders to help everyone as much as we can,” Major Salem said during the live session.
In the UAE we like to welcome everyone and we have strict orders to help everyone as much as we can.
So, what were some of the most common questions asked by Gulf News readers? Find out.
Reader question: Tell us more about the five-year multiple entry visit visa – what are the fees? When will it be started?
Major Salem: “When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced this visa it was mentioned on the same day that this visa will start in the first quarter [of 2020]. So, by the end of March – or before that – we will have more information. I would like to tell our clients today that you can get the right answers from the official channels. If it is announced in any government channel, it is the right information. For sure, in the coming days and coming weeks we will get all the details and we will announce it on our official GDRFA channels or news channels.”
Reader question: I’ve lost my deposit receipt, what should I do?
Major Salem: “Earlier it was based on the receipt, now everything is on our system. So, if someone has deposited money when they sponsored a visa, five or ten years ago, and they don’t have a receipt now, they can contact our call centre and our team will start guiding you on how you can get your refund.”
He added that while the refund request would be processed by the GDRFA, additional time could be taken depending on one’s bank processes as well.
Reader question: I have overstayed my visa – what can I do? Can I get a deduction on my fines?
Major Salem: “Always follow the period of the visa, it is very important. However, let us say there is an emergency, a medical emergency or an accident, they just need to prove it. They need to apply for a letter in our Al Aweer Customer Happiness Centre and the committee will evaluate the request on a case-by-case basis. This could mean giving a discount, removing the whole amount - it depends on the case. If a person had an accident and he or she cannot travel, for sure UAE government will take care of these cases. To know how much you are supposed to pay as overstay fines, you can call 800 5111 from within the UAE and +97143139999 from outside the UAE.”
Reader question: Is there any information on Amnesty?
Major Salem: “For now, till this moment … nothing has been announced. If there is something announced, it will be mentioned on official channels. They can follow our official channels to find out.”
Reader question: “I want to sponsor my son after he has turned 18. He is hearing impaired.”
Major Salem: “This is a special case, she can visit our head office, go directly to the Entry Permit and Residency department, we will definitely help her. She can also contact me directly and we will start the process for her.”
Reader question: “Can you tell us about the retirement visa?”
Major Salem: “We don’t have a special retirement visa till now, but we have something called an investor visa and a real estate entry permit as well. If a person invests in the UAE or has real estate in the country, he can apply for the visa. Of course, it is not every real estate, there are rules and requirements for it as well.”
Reader question: How can I bring my parents on my sponsorship?
Major Salem: “You and your parents are most welcome in the UAE. But there are some requirements and some documents, for sponsoring your parents as residents. For visit, it is very easy. It is also easy for residence. But you have to fulfil certain requirements that you need to fulfil before they come.”
Reader question: Can someone visit the UAE after travelling out through amnesty?
Major Salem: “I don’t know the details of their case, and it is case-by-case. Of course, the UAE welcomes everyone.”
Reader question: How can I get visit visa online?
Major Salem: “It depends on the nationalilty. We have different types of visas - on arrival, transit, tourist etc. For on arrival visa, there are over 70 countries. For Pakistani nationals, as the reader is Pakistani, he can apply for a tourist visa through a tourist company package. If you are coming for a business, you can get business or transit visa. If you are applying for a tourist visa, you can apply through the airline that you are travelling with.”
Reader question: Her son is in Dubai on a visit visa for three months. Can I extend it without leaving the country?
Major Salem: “Yes, if he is under your sponsorship then you can visit any Amer centre and do change of status. If he is on an on arrival visa depending on the type of on arrival visa, it can be renewed. Some of them can be renewed, for others you need to leave the country and come back and sometimes you can’t.”
Reader question: Is there a grace period of 10 days for visit visa for 30 days?
Major Salem: “The best way to get an answer to your question is - call the call centre. Give them your visa number, application number or passport number, and then check exactly what validity of your visa is. Follow the date that they will give you and my suggestion is to leave the country before the visa ends. It is better to follow the instruction of the agent.”
Reader question: How can I check that my employment visa is genuine?
Major Salem: “Call the call centre, they will ask you for some details like the visa number or application number they can check the visa validity for you. The agent might ask you for details as well. You can also check it online.”
Reader question: I have given my passport for stamping for four weeks now, my company says it is in immigration. It is causing problems.
Major Salem: “Sorry, we are hearing from one side. There are more many channels to solve these problems between the employee and the employer. One is to go through our app - GDRFA - or you can go to Al Aweer centre. We have legal advisers, who can tell you exactly what to do.”
Reader question: “Do I need a rental contract to renewing my child’s visa?
Major Salem: “Yes, a tenancy contract is a requirement. The contract should be officially attested. But again, I need to send this message to everyone - all residents in Dubai - whatever requirements we have is for your good. The government will not add these requirements to make life hard for you. It is because of situations that might have arisen in the past. Also, to get your residence visa as fast as possible, make your documents clear and attach all the required documents when you do it online or when you go to an Amer centre. These attestations make your application faster and you will get the visa processed very quickly.”
Reader question: My wife and children are outside the country for more than six months, they want to come back? Can they?
Major Salem: “There are some reasons based on which we can allow people to enter the UAE even if they have been outside the UAE for over six months. One of them is that they should have a valid residency. If you want more information, you can call our centre.”
Reader question: Can I come back to the UAE after I get a ban?
Major Salem: “It is case-by-case. For these kind of enquiries they can contact the centre and get an answer.”
Reader question: My mother got banned when she applied for her residence visa a few years ago as they found an old scars, can she come to the UAE on a visit visa?
Major Salem: “It was a case of being unfit. The proper answer will be from our colleagues in Dubai Health Authority because most probably the situation belongs to them, as it is a health situation. We hope that they can get details there.”
You can reach out the DHA on 800 DHA 342 from within the UAE and +971-42198888 from outside the UAE.
From outside the UAE, you can call +97143139999
You can visit their website - https://gdrfad.gov.ae/en
You can email them - firstname.lastname@example.org