Coronavirus: UAE temporarily suspends pre-issued, unstamped entry visas
Abu Dhabi - Holders of the newly-issued visit, tourist and residence visas will be barred from entering the country.
By Dhanusha Gokulan and Ashwani Kumar
Published: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 7:15 PM
Last updated: Fri 20 Mar 2020, 9:23 AM
Stepping up its fight against Covid-19, the UAE has suspended the entry of all 'new-entry' visa holders, including those issued before March 17, Khaleej Times has learnt. Holders of the newly-issued visit, tourist and residence visas will be barred from entering the country.
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) had earlier said that the suspension did not apply to visas issued before March 17.
However, the FAIC issued a notification on March 17, which was communicated to UAE and international airlines by the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, stated: "All airlines should not carry any passenger who have issued visas and want to enter the UAE. All issued visas is cancelled for the passengers who are abroad." Khaleej Times has reached out to the authority for a clarification.
The UAE also suspended issuing visa on arrival from Thursday.
Etihad airways on their website stated that all pre-approved visas, including residence visas, are invalid.
"All pre-arranged entry visas (including new residence visas) issued before March 17, 2020, have now been invalidated and will not be accepted for entry into the UAE, said the statement.
A copy of the FAIC circular to airlines that Khaleej Times has obtained said: "Effective March 17, please be informed that all types of entry visa issuance has been temporarily suspended until further notice, except diplomatic passport holders and those eligible for visa on arrival or have visa exemption."
Furthermore, all airlines have been instructed not to carry UAE residents whose stay outside the UAE exceeds six months and have been barred from carrying residents who have lost passports with UAE visa.
It said: "Emergency visas will be issued for urgent cases. i.e. medical, etc. All these instructions are to be applied immediately and until further notice from the authorities." Furthermore, Etihad airlines announced all pre-arranged entry visas, including new residence visas, issued before March 17 have now been invalidated and will not accepted for entry into the UAE.
Passengers stranded in Dubai, Abu Dhabi
Until Tuesday, visit visas approved before March 17 was deemed valid. Media reports from India said many passengers who were trying to board their flights to the UAE were stopped saying their visas were not valid anymore. However, those who managed to arrive in the UAE were caught unawares when they landed at the airports , Khaleej Times has learnt.
Some passengers were left stranded inside the airports after they disembarked their flights on Tuesday evening until Wednesday afternoon.
An Indian expat whose wife arrived in Dubai on an Emirates flight from Bangalore on Wednesday morning said she is stuck at the airport for hours. "They are not letting her out of the airport, saying people on visit visas are not allowed inside. My eight-year-old son is also with her and I don't know what to do," he said.
"I have asked my wife to oblige by all regulations at the immigration. I just want her to either come out or be able to go back to India in the next flight," the man, who did not want to be named, added.
Another passenger who spoke on condition of anonymity said he is stuck at the Dubai airport and has been asked to return.
"I got the visa issued on March 16 and as per reports, my visa is valid. From India also, immigration authorities let us board the flight. We don't know what to do."
Tour company operators also faced similar challenges as many of their passengers were stuck inside the airports. "Many of the passengers who landed in the morning could exit the airport without any troubles. But three of our passengers who landed on Tuesday afternoon could not exit the airport. Eventually, they returned to India on Wednesday morning," said Vineetha, an employee at a tour company.