Immigration Alert- Visa Extensions due to Covid-19 stand revised

The UAE Cabinet has announced the cancellation of its earlier decision to extend the validity of visas and entry permits from March 1st 2020 until December 31st December 2020, and put in place revised visa regulations effective July 11th 2020. This decision has been taken keeping in mind the return to normalcy in the economy and also the opening of international travels to and from UAE. Apart from this, the UAE’s national air carriers have also launched repatriation flights to various countries which also indicates a return to normalcy in the UAE.

What decisions stand cancelled?

  1. All visas or resident permits (whether inside or outside the country) expiring on or before March 1st 2020 were given a 3 months’ amnesty or grace period to leave the country until August 18th 2020. This has now been revised by the latest UAE Cabinet decision.
  2. All visas or resident permits (whether inside or outside the country) expiring after March 1st 2020 were extended until December 31st 2020. This has also been revoked by the present decision.
  3. The extended validity of identity cards that expired after March 1st 2020 until the end of December 2020 stands revised.
  4. The decision to cancel administrative fines for violations with regards to services provided by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) also has been cancelled as of July 11th 2020.

The new visa regulations

As per UAE Cabinet resolution, the following comes into effect from July 11th 2020:

  1. A one-month grace period has been granted for holders of visit/tourist visas that expired before March 1st 2020 to leave the country. Accordingly, holders of expired UAE visit visas should either leave the country by August 11th 2020 or can apply for one-month grace period, as per the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). This extension shall be granted one time only as per the latest notifications.
  2. A one-month grace period has been granted for holders of visit/tourist visas that expired after March 1st 2020 to leave the country or to apply for a new visit/tourist visa, residence visa or employment visa as the case may be. This grace period starts on July 12th 2020, hence, the last day to leave the country without incurring any fine for overstay is August 11th 2020.
  3. All visit/tourist visa for visitors issued before March 17th 2020 were automatically cancelled. Refunds and reissuing notifications are expected in the upcoming week.
  4. All residence visas for GCC passport holders and UAE residents that expired on or before March 1st 2020 need to exit the country before August 10th 2020 for avoidance of any fines or apply for a new residence visa or employment visa as the case may be.
  5. All residence visas expiring after March 1st 2020 for GCC passport holders and UAE residents have been granted time until October 10th 2020 for renewal of their visa and Emirates ID card or cancellation of visa in case they wish to leave the country and should exit within the grace period mentioned on the cancellation papers. This is applicable for GCC passport holders and UAE residents inside the country.
  6. A one-month grace period has been granted to renew visas and Emirates ID cards from the date of arrival into the UAE for GCC passport holders and UAE residents who have spent less than six months out of the country.
  7. A grace period to be granted to UAE residents who have been out of the country for longer than six months or visa expired after March 1st 2020. The grace period will be determined by the following 2 factors:
    • Date of opening the airspace between the UAE and the relevant foreign country; AND
    • ICA Approval to return to the UAE.
    • Covid-19 (PCR Test) Negative test result.
Type of VisaStatusVisa holder Inside/ Outside UAEWhat should I do?
Visit/ Tourist VisaExpired before March 1, 2020InsideYou need to exit country before August 11th 2020 or can apply for one-month grace period, as per the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).
Visit/ Tourist VisaExpired after March 1, 2020InsideYou have until August 11th 2020 to either Exit the UAE without paying any fines, or apply for a new visit, residence or employment visa
Visit/ Tourist VisaIssued before March 17,2020OutsideAll Visas issued before March 17th 2020 were automatically cancelled. No announcement has yet been published for refund or reissuing of visa policies.
Residence VisaExpired before March 1, 2020InsideYou need to exit the country before August 11th  2020  or can apply for a new residence visa or employment visa as the case may be
Residence VisaExpired after March 1, 2020InsideYou need to renew your visa before October 10th 2020. If you wish to leave the country, cancel your visa before October 10th 2020 and exit the country within the grace period mentioned on your cancellation papers.
Residence VisaExpired after March 1, 2020Outside1. Apply for GDRFA or ICA Approval.
2. Book your ticket to the UAE.
3. Get your COVID-19 negative result, based on the airlines requirement.

Further notifications are expected in the upcoming week.

Authors:

ADV. Urvashi Ramachandran
Wills, Trust, Estate Planning, Probate, Family | Dispute Resolution
urvashi@goodwinslaw.ae