India Covid crisis: Many expats extending parents' UAE visit visa
Travel agents are seeing a massive demand for visa extensions.
Expats with aged parents visiting them in the UAE are increasingly pursuing three-month visa extensions as a safer alternative to having them return to India, which is currently battling the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Although cases in India have witnessed a dip, as many as 127,510 new cases were detected on May 31, causing concern for residents in the UAE about sending their parents back home. Several have already chosen to extend their parents’ visas, with some staying in the country for nearly nine months.
Brijesh Pal Singh, a businessman in Dubai, said that his parents had arrived on a three-month visit visa in January.
“My parents had come from Delhi to Dubai on a three-month visit visa in January and were to return in the first week of April. But considering the Covid situation in India, we applied for an extension of visa and secured it for another three months," said Singh.
"Both my parents are above 75 years old and suffer from various health conditions, so we are avoiding travel at the moment. I might seek another extension, if possible, and would want them to return only if we feel it would be safe for them to do so,” he added.
Singh noted that while a lot of travel agencies are providing visa extension services, the prices vary widely. "I spoke to quite a few of them and everyone quoted a different price. Three-month visa extension costs anywhere between Dh1,300 to Dh2,200 as per my conversations with agents. I am not aware of what is the actual fee charged by the government, but I have paid Dh1,300 for a three-month visa,” he said.
The process, however, is rather simple, he said. "I had to send copies of the passports of my parents, copy of the previous visa, and their photographs through WhatsApp to the travel agent and the visa was sent back to me via WhatsApp the next day.”
Anu Sharma, who works in data analytics, is another resident who has had his folks in the country for over six months now. They had arrived from New Delhi in the first week of November last year.
"I have extended their visas twice," he said. "They arrived on a 90-day visa. I had applied for an extension after 80 days, then applied for a second extension once the updated visa was about to expire. Once this second extension visa expires, they will have spent nearly nine months in the UAE,” said Sharma.
Meanwhile, Shreya Sarkar, who is a lawyer, is worried about the situation back in India and said that a visa extension was a no-brainer.
“My parents arrived on April 14 from New Delhi on a three-month visa. They have their return ticket booked for June. But given the current situation, I’m going to extend it. Going above and beyond those three months, I’m also looking for an extension depending on the situation in India,” said Shreya.
“They obviously want to go back but then, as children who are far away from their parents, it is difficult for us to manage, when you are living abroad. If they fall sick or if they contract Covid during transit, then it is a huge cause of concern. Frankly, my parents are not Internet-savvy and with everything being digitised — right from booking an appointment on the app or daily consultation if you fall sick — I’m worried about how they will manage. I called up one of our neighbours in Delhi and they said that everybody in that colony has, at some point, contracted Covid. Bearing all this in mind, I’m definitely considering a renewal,” she added.
Raja Mir Wasim, Manager, MICE & Holidays, International Travel Services, revealed that there has been a massive demand for visa extensions.
“Normally, we don’t get many extension requests. But over the past month, we got so many calls from our existing clients, whose parents are stuck, for visa extensions. And we are issuing their extensions for three more months. Over the past 10 days alone, there has been a tremendous demand for visa extensions. For sure, we will have plenty of extension requests over the coming weeks,” said Wasim.
> One-month visa: Starts at Dh350, including insurance
> Three-month visa: Starts at Dh850, including insurance
> Three-month visa Extension: Starts at Dh1,450 and goes up to Dh2,000
(*Prices vary from agency to agency and from emirate to emirate)
Visa documents required
> Clear passport copy (front and back page) and a photograph
> For extension: Previous visa page copy, passport (front and back)
The process takes between 24 to 48 hours.
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