Times of Oman
UAE visa loopholes are being closed to expatriates in Oman
October 20, 2015 | 9:18 PM
by REJIMON K /RAHUL DAS
Since the new rule came into force, GCC residents are having trouble visiting the UAE and many had to change their travel plans
 
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Muscat: Loopholes which some travellers from Oman have found to dodge new rules requiring an e-visa to cross the border in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are closing fast.

Confusion has dogged the new procedure which does away with visa-on-arrival for any person whose home country does not have a treaty with the UAE.

Since the new regulation came into force, the majority of airlines have begun denying travel for residents to the UAE if they don’t hold the e-visa, but one airline flying out of Muscat has still been allowing passengers to fly.

“A particular airline is able to provide visas because it is a GCC carrier. However, it’s just a temporary arrangement. That too will be stopped in the coming weeks,” a travel agent said.



A spokesperson of Emirates Airlines said they are following UAE guidelines. “We are following regulations based on guidelines from General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai. So this is checked during the check-in process and it should be checked again at the immigration counter in Muscat,” the spokesperson said.

Citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia do not require a visa to travel to the UAE. “However, GCC residents do require UAE visas and should apply online at ednrd.ae,” the spokesperson said.

While no one from Oman Air was available for comment, passengers told Times of Oman that they had also been prevented from flying without the e-visa, in accordance with the new rule.

From October 1, the UAE introduced the changes related to entry to the Emirates for expatriates living in the GCC countries.

Under the new rules, regardless of the profession, expatriates now have to apply online for an e-visa.

Earlier, expatriates holding a certain professional status were eligible to get visa-on-arrival in the UAE.

The move does not affect those from countries with treaties with the UAE, such as the European Union.

“We heard that many people, who landed in the Emirates hoping to avail the visa-on-arrival facility, were denied a visa and were returned. However, for those, who flew on a certain airline, they were able to get visa-on-arrival,” the travel agent added.

“Many other expatriates, who entered the UAE by road, were also denied visa. However, some were able to get it,” residents told the Times of Oman.

Times of Oman’s (TOO) attempts to get a clear picture on the issue from the UAE ministry went in vain. Emails and phone calls made to the Ministry remained unanswered.

“I used to get visa to the UAE at the border check-post. Last time, I was told to apply online. Then I returned and did it. After 24 hours, I got it. Now, travellers have to plan in advance,” Saji Kumar, an Indian businessman in Muscat, told TOO.

A family had to face similar hassles at the border as there was confusion at the check post.

“I got a visa for myself, wife and daughter. But I could not manage to get one for my son. Later on, after a long wait, we managed to get a visa for him. So, we continued with the trip. But we saw many people being asked to return after they were denied a visa,” a family from Muscat said.

According to the new norms, for getting a UAE visa, a GCC residence entry permit is valid for 30 days before entry from the issuance date, and allows a stay period after entry of 30 days, which can be extended to 60 days.

A GCC accompanied entry permit is valid for 60 days before entry from the issuance date, and the stay period after entry is 60 days, which can be extended by another 60 days.

However, upon arrival, if the GCC residency is found to have expired or cancelled, the entry permit holder shall not be granted entry, and if the profession of the GCC resident is determined to have been amended after the issuance of the entry permit, the holder shall not be granted entry.

The GCC residency must be valid for at least three months from the arrival date and the passport must be valid for at least six months from the arrival date.

Also, checks have to be conducted before allowing entry to foreigners, with temporary passports. However, foreigners possessing only emergency passports will not be allowed entry into UAE. The new rule also stipulates that a GCC resident e-visa is only valid for entry into the arrival/issuance port in UAE.

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