UAE flights: Holders of entry permits, new visas appeal for permission to travel

Reuters file
Reuters file

Dubai - Holders of valid entry permits and visit visas are yet to receive the green light for travel


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 16 Aug 2021, 7:47 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Aug 2021, 9:49 PM

Scores of entry permit holders — including families and those who secured new jobs in the country — are hoping they could be allowed to fly into the UAE soon.

Though granted entry permits, a number of travellers remain stranded in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda as UAE flights are restricted to residents and other special categories.

Some expats with expired residency visas have been granted automatic renewal for three months, but holders of valid entry permits and visit visas are yet to receive the green light for travel.

Zoheb Khan, an Indian expat with a valid entry permit, has been desperately waiting for a travel approval so that he can start his new job in the UAE.

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“I have received two doses of the Covishield vaccine from India. I hold a valid employment entry permit, which has been issued by my employer and expires on September 8. I was supposed to join my new workplace with immediate effect; however, I’ve been unable to do so,” Khan told Khaleej Times.

“I am unable to register myself on the GDRFA portal for arrivals as it asks for a ‘residency number’, which I do not have since I will be travelling to Dubai for the very first time.”

Permit holders like Khan fear that if they do not travel before their papers’ expiration date, they may lose out on their work opportunities.

In response to the many queries posted by entry permit holders on Twitter, Emirates airline has said: “Based on the latest updates, passengers who have Dubai residence visas stamped on their passports can travel to Dubai. All e-visa and entry permit holders can’t travel yet.”

Navin Ghule, a business owner who holds an entry permit for his wife and kid, hasn’t seen his family since April this year. “They went to India for a holiday after their visas expired, and my plan was to bring them on a new visa. I have their entry permits with me, but they cannot travel. It is very frustrating.”

Rare exceptions

In ‘rare cases’, some entry permit holders are being allowed entry, thanks to the humanitarian exemption clause, according to travel agents.

“However, these exemptions are being provided to very few passengers,” said Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels.

Rashid Abbas, managing director of Arooha Travels, added: “These passengers have been landing at Sharjah airports as well as in Dubai. They need to get their valid ICA approvals. However, the process of getting approvals for these travellers is extremely complicated, so we are unable to help many such passengers.”

When travel permissions are granted to holders of entry permits and visit visas, agents are expecting the inbound travel demand to quadruple.

“Currently, Indian carriers are offering one-way tickets (India to UAE) at Dh600 to Dh800, depending on the destination. However, prices charged by UAE carriers are higher. Whenever all categories of passengers can travel, I suspect there is going to be a huge influx of inbound travellers from South Asian countries,” Ahmed said.

What is the difference between an entry permit and a residency visa?

> Issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), an entry permit is a document that allows foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period of time.

> A residence visa is issued to a foreigner when he is already in the country.

Entry permits may be in a physical or an electronic form. They have a validity date, which refers to the period within which they must be used. For most entry permits, the validity is two months, which cannot be extended.

The duration of stay for each entry permit differs according to its type. For example, entry permits for transit allow the person to stay in the country for four days, while entry permits for employment allow the employee to stay in the country for two months, during which his sponsor must change the employee’s status into residence visa, or else he must leave before the document expires.

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