How a smartphone has turned into a visa centre in UAE

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Smartphone, visa centre, UAE, GDRFA-Dubai,

Innovations over the last decade have made them available at the touch of a smartphone button.

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Published: Sun 22 Dec 2019, 3:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 22 Dec 2019, 5:11 PM

Gone are the days when residents had to queue up at immigration centres for visa-related services. Innovations over the last decade have made them available at the touch of a smartphone button.
Beat queues with your phone
In Dubai, at the beginning of the decade, customers had to visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai) headquarters in Al Jaffliya in person to get their transactions done. Now, most of the services are offered via smart applications. Amer centres, a one-stop shop for all visa-related transactions, have come up across the emirate. Customers can get token numbers online and avoid queuing up at branches.
Walk-through passport control
Recent initiatives rolled out at Dubai International Airport make passport control a walk-through process. Innovations like e-gates and e-wallets linked to Emirates ID have evolved into a smart corridor that facilitates a paperless exit procedure.
Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director-General of the GDRFA-Dubai, told Khaleej Times: "GDRFA-Dubai has come a long way in the last few years in transforming its major services into smart ones."
AI-powered services
New visa-related services are powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Maj-Gen Al Marri said. Since last year, thanks to the AI, issuing an entry permit does not take more than 15 seconds - down from six hours as was the case earlier.
Golden visa scheme
In May 2019, golden residency visas that offer up to 10 years of residency were introduced for investors, entrepreneurs, professional talents and researchers in various fields of science and knowledge. The scheme also includes a five-year visa for students - a move expected to draw international students - while exceptional students are eligible for a 10-year residency.

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