New visa rules affect some GCC residents

20 May 15

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Certain expatriates holding residence permits issued by Gulf Cooperation Council countries are subject to a new rule requiring them to obtain visas before travel to the UAE rather than upon arrival.

What does the change mean? The rule covers expatriates with residence permits issued by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or Qatar. UAE authorities carved out an exception for managers, engineers and doctors, but they nevertheless may want to apply for a visa ahead of time to avoid confusion or unnecessary delay.

  • Implementation time frame: The change took effect May 15.
  • Who is affected: Expatriates holding residence permits issued by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or Qatar.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times for the expatriates who are affected will increase because they will be required to apply for visas prior to travel rather than upon arrival.
  • Business impact: Affected business travelers must obtain a company-sponsored visa prior to travel.
  • Next Steps: GCC residents may obtain information about applying for visas at www.ednrd.ae.

Background: The change will make travel to the UAE slightly more difficult for some GCC country residents. Immigration authorities have said the new rule will not apply to expatriates whose job title on their residency permit is manager, doctor or engineer, so long as they have had their GCC residency for at least six months.

Those who are affected by the change must apply for tourist visas, family-sponsored visit visas or company-sponsored business visas. These visas are generally valid for 30 days and are not renewable; on-arrival visas are also valid for 30 days, but can be extended for an additional 30 days. Those in need of visas for longer periods of time should contact a BAL attorney about whether any options exist for longer stays in the UAE.

The change described above only applies to expatriates with GCC residence permits; GCC nationals are not affected.

BAL Analysis: While UAE immigration authorities have excepted managers, engineers and doctors from the new requirements, even GCC country residents who fit into one of those categories may want to consider obtaining a visa before travel in order to avoid confusion or delay.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the United Arab Emirates. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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