UAE: No visit visa extensions without exiting country; here's everything you need to know

What do the new rules mean for those who are currently on a visit in the country?

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 12:38 PM

Last updated: Fri 20 Jan 2023, 5:10 PM

On Tuesday, new rules came into effect which discontinued the option for visit visa holders in the UAE to extend their visas from within the country. As of now, visitors must exit the country once their visa validity is over.

What does this mean for those who are currently on a visit in the country? Here is what travel agents had to say:


What?

“It was during the Covid pandemic that the UAE first introduced the option for visitors to extend their visas from within the country,” said Afi Ahmed from Smart Travels. "The option to extend the visa or change [their] status from the country was not available before that.”

During the pandemic, when travel became difficult, the UAE made this change due to humanitarian concerns. Visitors who have secured a job in the country or are opting for a residency visa must also exit the country and re-enter for the status change to be effective.


When?

The change in rules came into immediate effect on Tuesday, December 13. Travel agents pointed out that the amendments have come into place in all emirates except Dubai. “We applied for an extension for a Dubai visit visa on Tuesday and it was approved,” said Bharat Aidasani from Pluto Travels. “We tried the same for two Abu Dhabi and Sharjah-based visas but it was rejected.”

However, some Dubai agents reported that they were unable to process visit visa extensions with an error showing up when they try to apply. Others reported their visa extensions getting rejected.

Why?

“There are a number of residency visa options available for those wanting to stay longer in the country,” said Abdul Rahim from Aftab Tours. “There are the usual 2-year visas, freelance permits, work from home visas and many more for people to choose from. So, it is not really necessary for people to extend their visit visas.”

Other travel agents also agreed. “We have seen cases of some people staying in the country for even a year on a visit visa,” said Bharat. “The government does not really want to encourage that. Those who come for tourism purposes will rarely extend their visas indefinitely like this. For those who are in the country for other purposes, they have several visas to choose from. So, I understand why the changes have been made.”

A call centre representative from Rayna Tours also explained that freelance visa permits allowed people to stay in the country and look for work, or take up jobs on a freelance basis.

Options

Currently, those who are in the country on a visit visa have several options available to them.

  • Those who want to extend their visit visa and have a visa from Dubai can extend from within the country until further notice.
  • Those who have a visit visa from any other emirate and want to continue staying in the UAE on a visit visa must exit the country and apply for a new permit.
  • Those who are on a visit visa and want to change their status must apply for their visa, and once the approval comes through, they must exit the country and re-enter.

Here are some questions from Khaleej Times' readers answered by Afi Ahmed, Smart Travels:

My travel agent said visa renewal from inside the country without exiting has been suspended. My visa expires today. So, should I leave the country today?

It depends on whether the visit visa is from Dubai or not. If it is from Dubai, then, right now, you may have the option to extend it. You will need to check with your travel agency. However, if it is from any other emirate, you must leave the country ASAP.

How many days of grace period are there for me to make my travel arrangements?

It depends on your visa duration. If you have a 30-day visit visa, you have a 10-day grace period to exit the country. After the ten days, you will start getting a fine. You can check how many days of grace period you have left on the smart channel portal https://beta.smartservices.icp.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/default.html#/fileValidity

I came into this country before this new system was implemented. Will this affect my case too for visa renewal?

Yes. The new rule is applicable to everyone with immediate effect.

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