UAE residents who've been abroad for over 6 months can return by March 31

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on January 6, 2021
File photo

They should have a valid resident visa and approval from GDRFA..

Residents who have been outside the UAE for more than six months now have until March 31 to return, according to major airlines operating in the country.

The general rule is that if residence visa-holders have stayed abroad for over six months, their visas would automatically be nullified and they will have to apply for a new permit to enter the country.

In the latest update on the website of Dubai’s budget carrier flydubai, it said: “If you hold a UAE resident visa and have stayed outside of the country for more than 180 days, you will be allowed to enter the UAE until March 31, 2021.”

All residents need are a valid resident visa and approval from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai (GDRFA) on its website

However, passengers holding UAE residence visa that expired before March 1, 2020, are not permitted to enter the UAE, the carrier clarified. These categories of passengers need to apply for a new visa.

Passengers holding UAE residence visas that expired after March 1, 2020, and were extended until December 31, 2020, will also not be allowed to enter the UAE. They will also need to obtain a new visa.

Similarly, India’s budget carrier Air India Express (AIE) also announced on its Twitter account: “Passengers, who have stayed outside Dubai for more than 180 days, can return within March 31, 2021.” It added: “They should have a valid resident visa and approval from GDRFA.”

It was an initiative that brought relief to UAE residents. Nasreen Shaheen, an Indian expat who travelled to her hometown in September last year, said: “I left for India because my mother was ill and my husband’s salary was cut. It was getting difficult for our family financially. Now, that his salaries have been regularised, I can come back to our home in Dubai.”

Sijo Joseph, another expat, had to send his wife and kids back home after losing his job. Now he is looking forward to bringing them back. “Their visas are still valid till 2022. I was worried I had to re-apply for their visas. Luckily, I can bring them back in a few weeks.” An official with Air India Express also told Khaleej Times, “This news has come as a huge relief for several residents who were stranded in their home countries after the December 31 deadline got over and are yet to get their ICA or GDRFA approvals.”

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