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With travel and movement restrictions implemented by UAE, managing the immigration needs of your current and prospective employees efficiently and compliantly can be tricky. Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions on COVID-19 impact on UAE immigration as well as global mobility.

 

1. Is it possible to file residence visa for new hires who are currently outside UAE?

 

- The processing of any out of the country entry permit stays suspended as of now. 

- With the continued suspension of majority of the international inbound flights, businesses can explore various other options including, working remotely where possible.

- Companies need to continuously watch out for the updates on lifting of restrictions imposed on entry and visa processing for out of country candidates.

 

2. How to onboard a new hire who is outside the country?

 

- Remote working is certainly an option to look for, considering all the international inbound flights and out of country visa processing being suspended temporarily to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic COVID-19. 

- Presently there are no major guidelines laid out pertaining to remote working regulation in the UAE. At the same time the employee should be aware of any remote working provisions in the current country of residence. 

- Continue to follow closely the updates on lifting of restrictions imposed on entry and visa processing of out of country candidates.

 

3. What is the status of unused Entry Permits?

 

- The unused entry permits of new hires who received their approvals before the entry ban, have been made invalid in the system. 

- At the moment, it is not certain if they would be re-activated or a new application would need to be submitted once the entry restrictions are relaxed. 

- Keeping a track of these applications is important to process a refund of government fee, especially from the free zone authority. 

 

4. What about residence visa for new hires inside UAE?

 

- Though government service offices at major free zones in the UAE are closed, online applications continue to be processed for new hires who are inside UAE. 

- Most of the jurisdictions have mandated medical for new visa applications although several medical centres remain closed until further notice. 

- Limited number of medical centres are open across UAE, therefore, checking with the concerned free zone office regularly is important to facilitate medical for in country new visa applications. 

- General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has suspended stamping of Residence Visa on the passport in most of the jurisdictions temporarily. 

 

5. How is the renewal of Residence Visas being processed?

 

- In-country applications are being processed in some of the jurisdictions.  

- Any residence permit expired on or after 1st of March are being extended automatically until 31st of December in the immigration system. 

 

6. Is medical requirement waived for Residence Visa renewal?

 

- The medical examination requirement for renewal of residence visa has been temporarily waived. Therefore, the residence visa renewals are being approved by the GDRFA without medical. 

- Many Free zones continue to accept residence visa renewal applications and the medical requirement is waived in most cases. 

- Jurisdictions who have good online portals in place are less affected, while others are more affected.

- Companies in the affected jurisdiction would be able to leverage on the automatic extension of residence visas. 

 

7. Is the Residence Visas endorsed on the passport at this stage?

 

- GDRFA has suspended stamping of Residence Visa on the passport in most of the jurisdictions. 

- Once the renewal is approved, a notification is sent with approval. In some jurisdictions GDRFA is also issuing an e-Residence Visa. Therefore, tracking those applications is important once GDRFA is fully functional again, to get the visa stamped on the passport.

 

8. Can the Residence Visa be canceled in UAE?

 

- Residence visa cancellation is being processed by most of the jurisdictions in the UAE, where online portals are active. 

- Residence visa can be cancelled for those employees where the potential employer is able to submit the new visa in country through their portal access. 

- As the international flights are not operational, it may not be wise to cancel the residence visa of any employees who intend to repatriate from UAE at this stage. 

 

9. Can the visit visa be extended inside UAE?

 

- In case if you have any short term visitors who are not able to leave UAE due to the cancellation of international flights, their visa would need to be extended. 

- The authorities have announced extension of the visas for short duration or waiving off overstay fines. 

- It is recommended that the validity of the visa is verified with GDRFA directly to ensure the extensions are granted automatically. 

- UAE has also started repatriation flight to few countries, therefore, the visitor should contact their home embassy to understand and avail this facility, as applicable. 

 

10. Can I submit new residence visa for a dependent?

 

- GDRFA has suspended processing out of country entry permit applications. 

- Any unused entry permits whose permits were approved before the entry ban, have been made invalid from the system. 

- At this moment, it is not yet clear if they would be re-activated or a new entry permit would need to be procured once the entry restrictions are relaxed. 

 

11. Is the dependent eligible for automatic extension?

 

- With the temporary closure of Amer service centers, there is a limitation in submitting any in-country new or renewal applications. 

- As per the cabinet resolution, dependents residence visas which is expiring on or after 1st of March are being extended until 31st of December.

 

12. How can the Company Documents be renewed?

 

- It is important to ensure that the company documents such as commercial/trade license, immigration establishment card, etc. are renewed before the expiry date. 

- As these documents are renewed through company portal, the applications are accepted online in most jurisdictions. 

- Where online portals are not available, this needs to be facilitated through the respective online customer service.  

 

13. Is automatic extension of expired Residence Visa applicable for residents currently outside UAE?

 

- As per the announcement automatic renewal is extended to residence visa holders who are currently outside UAE as well. 

- As per the cabinet resolution, residence visas which is expiring on or after 1st of March are being extended until 31st of December as well. 

 

14. What happens to Residence Visa holders currently outside UAE?

 

- With the cancellation of international inbound flight, the UAE residence visa holders were not allowed to return to the country. 

- For those residents who are outside UAE, government has initiated a new service called Twajudi Resident. 

- UAE residence visa holders are encouraged to register themselves through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) portal.

- UAE residents would be allowed to return once the internal flights are operational.

 

15. What is Twajudi-Resident and how to register for this?

 

- For those residents who are outside UAE, MOFAIC has initiated a new service called Twajudi Resident. 

- The residence visa holders are encouraged to register themselves to receive updates from the authorities. 

- The link to this service is: 

https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/issueResidentEntryPermission/request/708/step1?administrativeRegionId=1&withException=false

 

How can BM Strategies assist? 

Given the dynamic nature of the immigration environment, we at BM Strategies guide and provide consultations on the best and most efficient options in managing UAE business immigration needs. Please reach out to us for more information on recent  updates at contactus@bmstrategies.com. https://bmstrategies.com/contact

 

Disclaimer: The information provided here are only for the purpose of providing an overview of the UAE immigration processes. The immigration regulations are subject to change from time to time and from one jurisdiction to another. The information provided hereby should not be considered an opinion or advice from BM Strategies but only a practical guide for general information.

 




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Posted on 17-Apr-2020.

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