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Indians seek clarity over visit visa travel to UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on August 11, 2020 | Last updated on August 11, 2020 at 08.24 pm
Indians, visit visa holders, clarity, traveling, UAE

(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/Khaleej Times)

Previously, only residency visa holders were allowed to travel to the country on repatriation flights being operated as part of Vande Bharat Mission.

Following a top diplomat's announcement that Indian nationals with 'any type of valid visas' can now travel into the UAE, scores of Indians have begun applying for visit visas and booking air tickets. However, many have sought clarifications on pre-travel procedures.

On Monday, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor announced that all Indians with any type of valid UAE visa can now travel into the country, bringing great respite to families and parents of varsity-going students who were stranded in India without residency visas.

Taking to Twitter on Monday, the ambassador referred to an Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation notification, "as per which both Indian and UAE airlines" can carry Indian nationals holding any type of visa from India to the UAE.

Previously, only residency visa holders were allowed to travel to the country on repatriation flights being operated as part of Vande Bharat Mission. The Consul-General of India to Dubai Dr Aman Puri also told Khaleej Times: "There is no time frame for this travel agreement. It does not end on August 31."

He added: "Governments on both sides have been very supportive and have facilitated travel into both countries. However, people should be acting responsibly and it is highly recommended they commit to PCR testing before travelling to India as well as the UAE."

Airlines must ensure Indian travellers can enter UAE: MoCA

In a notification to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India (MoCA), it has been said that both Indian and foreign carriers are now permitted to carry passengers on flights being operated between India and the country with which an 'air bubble' travel arrangement has been made.

The notification was issued on August 10, which specified travel arrangements between the US, Canada, the UK and the UAE.

In the case of the UAE, the MoCA notification has said UAE nationals, ICA-approved UAE residents destined for 'UAE only', and any Indian national holding any type of valid visa and destined for the UAE can now travel.

The notification specified: "It would be for the airlines concerned to ensure that there is no travel restriction for Indian nationals to enter the UAE with the particular visa category before issuing the ticket/boarding pass to the Indian passenger."

The ministry also asked the DGCA to bring the changes to the notice of both Indian and relevant foreign airlines operating in the Indian sector.

However, the exact standard operating procedure (SOP) and travel requirements for visit visa holders are still being sought from the UAE and Indian government authorities. Khaleej Times has reached out to local authorities and various airlines operating in the sector for comments. Clarifications are awaited.

Travel agents, individuals ?begin booking tickets

While airlines and travel agents have begun accepting bookings from passengers, travellers are concerned if they can board the flights. Farrukh Shaikh said: "I have booked tickets for my entire family on August 15, including my newborn baby. Except for my baby, all others have valid visas. I am not getting a clear intimation from airlines if my baby can travel."

Another passenger Shilpa Ranjan said: "As passengers, we have a lot to take care of before embarking on this journey in the midst of a pandemic. It would be good if all agencies involved would give a clear idea regarding this."

Similarly, Sharadha Salla, an expat who has been stuck in Mumbai with two daughters since March, said: "I have booked my tickets on an Emirates Airlines flight for August 13 at 7.20pm. I saw tickets are available on all major airlines - Air Vistara, Indigo, SpiceJet."

However, Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels, a Dubai-based travel agency, said: "Following the announcement, we have begun accepting bookings from passengers who wish to fly from various cities in India into the UAE. I have checked with airlines in the UAE and immigration authorities in airports in Kerala and have received the green signal to start accepting bookings. The first set of visit visa holders have booked their tickets for August 12." 


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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