Sep 20, 2012

Interior Ministry denies ban on tourist visas


DUBAI: A top Ministry of Interior official has denied reports of a ban on tourist visas for unskilled workers.
Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation and Residency, and Ports Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, said residency departments across the country were processing visit visa transactions for applicants following “standard procedures”.
The official denied earlier reports that visitors from some Asian countries — such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines — will be required to submit university diplomas alongside applications for tourist, visit and conference visas to the UAE.
Al Menhali said these reports are false. “Any new procedures would be announced to the public and posted on the ministry’s website or released to the media by the Security Information Department,” the news agency WAM quoted him as saying.
Earlier, citing an unnamed federal official, local media reported that new rules for issuing visit, tourist and conference visas would apply to a certain category of applicants from mostly Asian countries as part of an ongoing crackdown on human trafficking and begging in the UAE.
The clampdown, the report said, was part of a “new regime” aimed to check the influx of low-paid workers who end up begging on the streets or pose security threats to citizens and residents.
The unnamed official said that visit visa applicants must have enough money to cover their visit and obtain health insurance.
Al Menhali said such reports came from “unofficial” sources and were “unreliable”.
Meanwhile, most typing centres in Dubai said they were doing business as usual.
“We have not received instructions from the authorities about any visa rule changes,” said Mohammad Ebrahim, manager of Quality General Services, whose typing centre is visited by hundreds of applicants daily. “The requirements are the same.”
Typing centres are the first stop for visit visa applications, attending to thousands daily.
Business as usual
“We’re not aware of any stricter visit visa rules,” said Nehal Ahmad, manager of Darwish Shakeel, a Bur Dubai typing centre. “We have not been told to implement or ask for additional papers from applicants.”
Nisar of Fenoje Typing Centre, said: “There are no new restrictions for visit visas,” said Ahmad.
Ahmad, however, has said that stricter rules requiring expatriates to present a Dewa bill, a tenancy contract validated by the Ejari system and a two-bedroom apartment when applying for a residency visa for a next-of-kin or housemaid visa has significantly cut down on the number of applications.
“Applications for this category are down by 40 per cent. Our business is down. But we have to adhere to the rules.”

Sep 18, 2012

Stricter UAE visit visa rules to be implemented


Abu Dhabi: Residency departments across the country have adopted stricter visa rules, banning tourist, visit and conference visas for workers from certain labour exporting countries.
A senior official told the move is intended to better protect citizens and residents by preventing foreign criminals from coming to the UAE.
He said: “The Federal Residency Department, which oversees residency departments across the country, has decided to adopt stricter regimes for tourist, visit and conference visas to curb the influx of blue-collar workers from many labour exporting countries into the country,” said the official who wished not to be named.
The new regime bans visit visas for some workers, especially from traditional labour exporting countries to the UAE, and sets a university degree as a prerequisite for obtaining a visa, plus other requirements, the official said.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and The Philippines are some of the largest countries exporting labour to the UAE.
Categories banned from obtaining tourist, visit or conference visas include electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners.
The requirements include round trip tickets, proofs of a confirmed hotel booking and and enough money to finance the stay.
The move was prompted by the recent arrests of scores of foreigners on tourist, visit and conference visas, who were either engaged in organised crimes, human trafficking or were found unemployed and looking for jobs or begging in the streets, or near hospitals, mosques and malls, according to the source.
The source stressed the UAE continues to welcome genuine visitors.
“However, these visa requirements will give authorities a greater ability to manage the flow of visitors into the country and allow residency departments across the country to screen more travellers for security risks prior to their arrival in the UAE.
“This would help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country.”
The UAE last reviewed its visa requirements for other countries in 2008.
The source stressed it is up to applicants to satisfy visa officers that their visit to the UAE is temporary and that they would not overstay, that they have enough money to cover their stay, have health insurance and are not a security risk to citizens and residents.
Tourist visas must be prearranged, usually through a hotel but possibly also through an airline or other travel agents based in the UAE.
Hotels, travel agents, airlines and other companies, which arrange a tourist visa for a customer, are also held responsible for their customers and pay deposits to cover any fines.
Concerning conference visas offered to business people wishing to attend an event or fair, they will have to submit proof of their status as a businessman or woman or investor and have enough money to cover their stay and health insurance.
Welcoming the new regime, some tour operators said they arrange tourist visas for visitors only through their relatives living in the country, who pay charges of up to Dh10,000 as a surety that the visitors will comply with the visa rules.
Others would withhold passports of visitors during their stay in the country, they said.
They warned of companies who submit fake information about visitors especially for subjects of countries whose passports do not include recognised professions.