New UAE visa rules leave hundreds stranded - UAE INFO

Sep 29, 2008

New UAE visa rules leave hundreds stranded

Buraimi/Dubai: Hundreds of people, most of them Filipinos, are stranded in Oman and Iran after they failed to renew their visit visa, following new UAE visa regulations that took effect in July.

Buraimi in Oman and Kish Island in Iran are popular exit points for UAE visitors to repeatedly renew their visit visas after they expire. However, the visa rules state that those who wish to obtain a fresh visit visa to the UAE must leave for one month before being issued another visa.

The new regulations were implemented to prevent the abuse of the visit visa system, which many have used to enter the UAE to find jobs or work illegally.

Almost 700 Filipinos have been stranded as early as August, according to two travel agencies dealing with visit visa runs, not counting those from other travel agencies.

Wilma, from Al Hedaya Travel and Tourism, told they continued the visa runs, saying they were not informed of the new regulations directly and how this would affect their clients.

"We kept sending people out of the country because we did not want them to overstay and pay the penalty. We later found out they could not come back," she said.

Emilia Bunoan, from Al Safa Tourism, agreed. "We didn't know they were going to be rejected. Most of them are Filipinos."

Although many of the Filipinos talked to in Buraimi fell into the job-seeker or illegal worker category, a few did not.

Benito Valeriano, Philippine Consul-General in Dubai, told he could not intervene on behalf of the stranded Filipinos in Buraimi and Kish as they were outside his jurisdiction.

"My advice to them is to seek assistance from our embassy in the countries where they are stranded. They will assess [their] case and if [they] cannot return to the UAE, they will be assisted to return to the Philippines," he said.

He added the Filipinos' plight has served as a wake-up call to many Filipinos, who have been coming into the UAE on visit visas to look for a job or work without legalising their status.

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