DIFC launches online visa service, updates rules

21 Nov 17

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IMPACT – MEDIUM

The Dubai International Financial Centre has launched a new online visa system, instituted an updated fee schedule and made changes to its rules on secondment permit applications and supporting documents.

Key points:

  • Visas will be processed through a new online system. The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs launched the new system, called E-GDRFA, Nov. 1. Among key changes associated with the launch of the system:
    • Online entry permits will be made available through DIFC’s client portal. Entry permits can be printed and sent to applicants for entry to the UAE once they are issued electronically.
    • Visa applicants will be required to complete Emirates ID registration and a medical test when transferring between DIFC companies. Applicants will be issued visas that are valid for three years, contingent on their continued employment with the new company.
    • Applicants will not be allowed to amend personal details when renewing employment visas or when transferring visas from one passport to another. Authorities will instead require a separate “visa amendment” application when applicants wish to amend personal details, including their designation.
    • Applicants will no longer be required to provide their original passport and Emirates ID when canceling employment visas. Confirmation that visas have been canceled will be provided on the DIFC client portal.
  • Service fees have been revised in line with industry standards. Fees will increase for most services and across permit and visa categories. The new fee list is available on this DIFC website.
  • Rules on secondment permits have changed. Companies now will be allowed to apply for secondment permits even when the employee’s employment visa is not valid for the entire period of secondment. However, companies that do this will be required to promise to renew the employee’s employment visa at the appropriate time; otherwise, secondment permits will be considered invalid. Secondment permits may be issued with a validity period of three months, six months or one year and may be renewed when they expire.
  • Supporting documentation must be in Arabic or English. All original supporting documentation submitted with visa applications must be in Arabic or English. Documents not originally in one of these languages must be translated into Arabic. English translations of originals will no longer be accepted.

BAL Analysis: The changes listed above took effect Nov. 1. Employers should take note of the changes and, if necessary, alert affected employees. Companies may need to adjust their budgets to account for fee increases and should be sure to translate supporting documentation, including birth and marriage certificates, into Arabic in cases where originals are not in either Arabic or English.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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