UAE flights: How to check for visa validity before travelling

A step-by-step guide for residents to check their visa validity.

On Tuesday, August 3, the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in the UAE announced residents who have received both doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE can return home starting August 5.

Currently, only UAE residence visa holders who have taken two doses of the Covid-19 vaccinations in the Emirates are allowed to return home.

Additionally, vaccinated and unvaccinated health workers, teachers, humanitarian cases and those employed in federal and local government agencies can fly to the UAE from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.

Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) approvals are mandatory for inbound travellers. However, during their enforced stay in these countries, visas of many residents have either expired or they have stayed outside the country for over six months.

Here is a guide to how they can check their visa statuses pre-travel:

How can I check if my visa is valid for entry?

Dubai residents can check their visa status using their passport and Emirates ID numbers here:

https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/residents-entry-confirmation

Visa holders from all other Emirates, except Dubai can check their visa status here:

https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/default.html#/fileValidity

Residents can check their visa status using their passport or Emirates ID numbers.

What can I do if I have stayed outside the UAE for over six months?

The general rule is that if expatriate residents, that is, people who hold a UAE residence visa, live outside UAE for more than six months continuously, their residency visa will be automatically nullified. If this happens, they will have to apply for a new entry permit to enter the UAE again.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) has stated on its website that the application may be rejected for reasons related to precautionary measures. However, this procedure does not mean that the applicant will not be allowed entry into the country.

Re-entry application for Dubai residents: https://smart.gdrfad.gov.ae/Smart_OTCServicesPortal/ReturnPermitServiceForm.aspx

Re-entry application for all other Emirates:

https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/residents-entry-confirmation

What’s next after I file for my re-entry permit?

Employees who have been stranded outside the UAE for over six months may need to provide a supporting letter issued by their employer or sponsor, stating they are an employee of the company. The letter can be provided to the immigration officer at the airport.

Can I apply for an entry permit while abroad?

Yes. An entry permit is a document issued by the ICA or GDRFA that allows the foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period of time. The document may be in a physical or an electronic form. Before you apply for one, check if you need an entry permit, or you might get it on arrival.

The party sponsoring the person who wants to enter the UAE will handle the entry permit transaction through GDRFA’s online and offline channels. The sponsor could be a company from the private sector, a public entity, a relative, a UAE-based airline or a hotel and so on.

Depending on your reason to enter the UAE, there are various types of entry permits. Some of them are employment, family visit, tourism/transit, treatment, mission, attending conferences.

The entry permit has a validity date, which refers to the period within which the entry permit must be used by entering the UAE through one of its entry points at the land borders, airports or seaports. For most entry permits, the validity is two months. The validity of entry permits cannot be extended, they automatically expire upon the lapse of their time.

What can I do if my visa has expired?

At the moment, authorities in the UAE have made no provisions to allow those on expired visas to re-enter the UAE, even if they are on the 30-day grace period after their visa expiry. Their sponsor (employer/ spouse/ parent) will have to cancel their existing visa and apply for a new entry permit.

Can I apply for a visa extension from overseas?

There is currently no provision to apply for a visa extension while a resident is overseas. However, travel agents and diplomatic missions are hopeful authorities in the UAE may review this and provide guidance once restrictions are fully lifted.

Can I enter the UAE on a tourist visa?

Tourist visa holders from India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, for example, cannot enter the UAE directly from these countries. Instead, they can quarantine in a third country for at least 14 days before coming into the UAE.

For example, if you are staying in a green county like Qatar and you’ve been quarantined there for 14 days, you can travel into the Emirates with a tourist visa, said Raheesh Babu, group COO of Musafir.com. Some passengers have opted to travel this way and got to the UAE just in time before their visas expired.

Source: ICA, GDRFA, travel agencies

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.

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