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New visa regulations approved

posted on 17/02/2004: 1774 views

The government gave residency authorities the green light to alter the visa status eliminating the need for expatriates to exit the country, a Cabinet source said yesterday. This follows a directive from President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, prompted by the Sharjah air crash in which at least 43 people died while returning from a 'visa-change flight'.

However, no details were released with regard to rule changes. Cabinet sources said Sheikh Zayed's orders were immediately distributed throughout the country last week. The Ministry of Interior and the General Naturalisation and Residency authorities will finalise details of the new law.

Earlier, visitors to the UAE were required to leave the country before re-entering with a new employment visa. The Cabinet source said the move was aimed at easing the procedure for visitors to obtain employment visas and to scrap the need for taking visa-change flights.

The General Residency and Naturalisation Department have begun to implement the new rules to all regardless of their professions and nationalities. At the moment, expats will have to pay Dh500 to get their visit visas changed into an employment visa.

The Ministry of Interior is studying proposals to curb the misuse of visit visa facilities by those who are using them to reside in the UAE. Many expatriates obtain visit visas on a regular basis to reside and illegally work in the country.

One of the suggestions was that the visitors should no longer be allowed to renew their visa without leaving the country for at least one to three months. "The exact minimum period of leaving the UAE before granting another visit visa will be determined by the ministry," a source from the committee said.

He said the authorities should chart out visit visa transactions in the country and implement clear rules to prevent misuse. He said the committee will also study the cases to find out whether the requirement for frequent visas are genuine or not. Labour statistics show more than 30 per cent of illegal workers caught by inspection officers are on visit visas.

The sources said the committee will study the phenomenon of those staying and working in the country on a visit visa and try solve the problem. "We will try to help workers to adjust their legal status," he said. Officials expect the move to benefit around 400,000 workers annually. More than 500,000 employment visas are issued per annum. (The Gulf News)


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