Online visas now mandatory for expatriate residents of GCC countries

5 Nov 15

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Foreigners who hold a resident permit in a Gulf Cooperation Council country are now required to apply online for a visa before entering the United Arab Emirates.

What does the change mean? Foreign residents of GCC countries who fail to apply for an e-visa before travel to the UAE risk being turned away at the border. Visas on arrival are no longer available for these travelers.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: GCC Residents Entry Permit, GCC Accompanied Entry Permit.
  • Who is affected: Foreign residents of GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – intending to travel to the UAE.
  • Impact on processing times: The move to a mandatory online system is intended to expedite visa issuance and travel.
  • Business impact: Expatriate employees holding resident permits in a GCC country should be aware that e-visas are now mandatory.

Background: In May, GCC countries, including the UAE, began requiring visas for foreign residents traveling within the GCC. In August, the UAE provided an online visa option for these travelers instead of consular processing; the transition to e-visas is complete and they are now mandatory without exception.

The e-visa application must be lodged online, and the e-visa is issued by email. It must be used within 60 days and is valid for a single entry of 30 days (extendable for an additional 30 days). If the applicant’s profession has changed after the issuance of the e-visa, he or she will not be allowed to enter the UAE. In addition, the applicant’s GCC resident permit must be valid at least three months beyond the intended arrival date and their passport must be valid for at least six months beyond arrival date.

While family members of an expatriate resident of a GCC country may obtain a 60-day visa, they will only be issued the visa if they are traveling with the GCC resident.

BAL Analysis: Expatriate employees holding a resident permit in a GCC country and traveling to the UAE can no longer rely on visas on arrival and must apply online for their entry visas.

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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