PROs see online visa threat to 'business'

DUBAI - The reluctance of many establishments in Dubai to make use of the online visa application facilities offered by the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) is basically blamed on the Public Relations Officers (PROs) of those establishments, who see in the electronic services a threat to their business, according to a senior official.

By Sanaa Maadad

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Published: Sat 10 Jul 2004, 9:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:46 PM

With the endeavours of various government bodies in Dubai to conform to the e-government initiative by introducing several electronic services that serve customers, facilitate procedures for various transactions and cut down on the bureaucratic processes as well as save time, the DNRD launched some time back the online visit, transit and tourist visa application and processing for establishments.

It started with the major hotels and airlines and expanded it to cover other establishments.

However, the response from the companies and establishments working in the emirate is not so far very satisfactory, observed Lieutenant-Colonel Salah bin Saloum, DNRD Assistant Director for Entry Permits.

"Any company can submit their visa applications online and get their visas within 10 minutes if the documents are complete, so why are they still bothering to visit personally for submission of applications at the DNRD premises?" said Lt-Col. Bin Saloum.

He said that a company can open an account with a bank and then apply to the DNRD for the online visa service to get a user number and a password. "With this user number and password one (the owner of the establishment or some authorised person whom he trusts) can enter the site and submit the visa applications and the department will process them online and give a print order within 10 minutes, enabling the user to print the visa while sitting in his office.

"The department automatically deducts the fees from the bank account opened for this purpose," he explained.

The department issues more than 2,500 online tourist and visit visas everyday, said Lt-Col. Bin Saloum.

Although it is an easy and feasible process, many do not like to deal with the online application "particularly the PROs of the companies who have personal interests and gains from the manual visa application submission system," he said in reference to the practice of some PROs who take commissions to complete some transactions.

He warned against any misuse of the facility saying that anyone who gets access to the user number and password can obtain the visas he wants online.

"The department gives the information in sealed envelopes to the users and it is entirely their responsibility not to reveal them to anyone to avoid misuse of the facility. At the end of the day the person in whose name the account was opened is legally accountable in case of any violations or misuse of the service," he said, adding that the system is secure as far as the department is concerned.

Lt-Col. Bin Saloum observed that the online service is very effective and fast even when the visa applications require security checks for visitors or tourists from particular nationalities.

"We have an e-link with the security authorities as well and the security check can be done instantly, and accordingly our officers grant the approval to print the visa or reject the application."

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