Nov 5, 2009

Exemptions made to visa validity rule

Dubai : There will be a few exemptions to the rule which states that staying more than six months out of the UAE will automatically cancel residency visas, said a senior Ministry of Interior official.

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of the Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, told that according to the UAE residency federal law people with valid residents' visas in the UAE who leave the country for more than six months will have their residency visa cancelled and must apply for new visas to enter the country again.

"This is not a new rule and everyone should be aware of it. No one can stay outside the country more than six months then try to enter the country without a valid residency visa," he said.

However, Major General Al Merri, said there are exceptions to this rule in which people in specific circumstances will be allowed to enter the country even if their stay exceeds six months abroad.

As an exception to article (61) of the UAE federal residency law, the residency permit will continue to be valid until the end of its term for residents under specific categories.

He said the foreign wife of any Emirati who is on the sponsorship of her husband can enter the country even if she has exceeded her stay outside the country for more than six months.

He also said domestic helpers who are accompanying an Emirati studying abroad will not lose their residency visas even if their stay outside the country is more than six months.

Also domestic helpers or those who escort an Emirati for treatment abroad will not have to apply for a new visa and can enter the country with the same visa even after six months of staying abroad.

Medical treatment

"An expatriate who resides in the UAE and was sent for treatment abroad and exceeds their stay more than six months can enter the country with the same residency visa. But that expatriate patient must be working at a government department in the UAE or must be sent abroad for treatment by a government department in the UAE," he said.

He said those who go on their own will not be allowed to enter the country after their stay outside the UAE exceeds six months and they must apply for new visas.

He said expatriate patients and their escorts who are travelling or sent for medical treatment abroad and who hold valid residence permits, must provide medical report approved by the Ministry of Health or the Medical Services of the Armed Forces or Police.

He said another category are domestic helpers who are accompanying members of diplomatic and consular missions representing the country abroad, and employees of such missions holding residents visas in the UAE.

Also expatriates working for the public sector who were sent by their employers to attend training or specialist courses, or those working in their employers' offices abroad, and their families who holding valid residence permits in the UAE

Major General Al Merri said another category that can exceed their stay outside the country for more than six months are expatriate students studying in universities or institutes abroad.

Major General Al Merri said it is recommended that people under these categories inform the airport authorities before their arrival to ease the process of entry.

Residency body: Change of name

Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, said that upon the directions of the Ministry of Interior and taking effect from this week the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department's name has been changed to the Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Acting Deputy Assistant at the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Borders, told Gulf News the names of residency departments have had some changes as each department will no longer be called the naturalisation and residency department rather it will be the General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs. Naturalisation departments are separate departments and no longer part of the residency departments. Passport control, which used to be part of the residency departments has also been separated from the residency departments, he said.

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