UAE visit visa: Overstaying, absconding visitors cause fines, penalties for travel agencies

Some visitors unintentionally stay back for longer, unaware that the 10-day grace period has been removed

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 25 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 25 May 2024, 10:54 PM

Visit visa holders who overstay their permitted duration and break the rules cause travel agencies to incur fines and face operational challenges, travel executives have said.

According to the agencies, cases of visitors overstaying and absconding have compelled authorities to implement stricter entry regulations at Dubai Airports. When a case of an absconder is filed against a visitor, it results in financial and operational challenges for them.


No more grace period

One of the primary reasons for visitors overstaying is a misunderstanding on the visa grace period. “Many visitors believe they have a 10-day grace period to stay beyond their visa's expiry date. However, this grace period was removed last year, leading to unintentional overstays. They are in denial and we regularly inform them that there is no grace period,” said Firoz Maliyakkal, founder and CEO of Tahira Tours and Travels.

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Sudden financial complications can also play a critical role. “Some visitors face unexpected financial difficulties during their stay, making it very difficult for them to return home on time,” said Libin Varghese from Rooh Travel and Tourism.

“Additionally, the charm of Dubai and the UAE's diverse attractions entices visitors to extend their stay and explore without considering the legal repercussions,” added Varghese.

Another common reason for absconding visitors is job hunting after being captivated by Dubai’s lifestyle. “Visitors, captivated by Dubai's opportunities, apply for jobs and wait for interview calls, neglecting their visa status. They often overstay hoping for employment, which places them in a legal situation,” said Firoz.

Delayed interview call

Bilal Abbas, who had arrived in Dubai in February to visit his relatives, recounted his experience. He said: “During my visit, I learned of a job opening in a friend's company. I decided to apply and surprisingly got called in for an interview. I was thrilled but completely forgot about my visa expiry date, just three days before the second interview.”

Despite overstaying for nearly 8 days, Abbas managed to secure a job. “I had to pay around Dh1,000 in fines when I exited the country. Fortunately, I obtained residency status on March 28 and returned to the UAE.”

Penalties for travel agent

According to travel agents, such actions have severe consequences. “When a visitor doesn’t report to us after visa expiry, the travel agency that facilitated their visa faces substantial fines and penalties,” said Firoz.

Travel agencies must pay a fine of Dh2,500 to authorities for each absconding case. “Additionally, the agency's visa quota is reduced, affecting our ability to operate efficiently and invite more people to the UAE,” said Varghese.

Dh2,000 absconding fine

According to industry experts, visitors who overstay illegally face hefty fines and to withdraw an absconding case; one has to go through a series of processes. “Absconding visitors can get the status removed by paying a minimum Dh2,000 fine, along with penalties for the overstay and additional administration and exit fees,” said Firoz. He added that these expenses can become overwhelming for both parties – visitors and travel agencies.

However, visitors should be aware that the minimum fine of Dh2,000 can increase to Dh5,000 when additional fees payable to authorities are included.

Travel agents are urging visitors to be aware of the legal implications of overstaying their visas. “Dubai remains an attractive destination for visitors, it is crucial for travellers to respect the visa regulations and avoid overstaying. Proper planning and adherence to visa regulations are essential to avoid legal complications and financial penalties," said Firoz.

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