Sunday, June 29, 2008

Short visa runs set to end, says UAE official

Short visa runs set to end, says UAE official
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: June 27, 2008, 00:07

Dubai: Short visa runs will be banned once new entry permit rules take effect on August 1, a senior Ministry of Interior official told Gulf News on Thursday.

Expatriates who wanted to adjust their visa status had to make quick trips to neighbouring countries and then return to the UAE.

In February 2004 a Kish Air plane crashed into a residential area near Sharjah airport, killing 43 people aboard. Most of the victims had gone to Kish Island in Iran so that they could adjust their visa status.

Immediately afterwards, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan abolished the law that required foreign workers to briefly exit the country to comply with visa regulations.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who was then Crown Prince of Dubai, ordered new measures to ensure that there was no longer any need for people on visit visas, who have been issued work permits, to leave the country to convert them to residence visas. A fee could be paid instead.

However, four years later, visa runs continue. All this is set to change once the new rules come into effect. A Ministry of Interior official said short visa runs will be completely stopped.

People who have secured jobs will come here only on employment visas - they won't be allowed to come on visit visas and then change their status to employment and residency.

The official said the complete ban on short visa runs will be made soon. "We will stop these daily runs to neighbouring countries. If required, expatriates will have to leave the country for at least a month," he said.

Gulf News reported on Wednesday that a two-month-old baby must travel to Kish or to Oman and return so that he can get a residency visa.

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