Tourist visa opened to all nationalities
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: July 24, 2008, 00:03
Dubai: People of all nationalities can now enter the UAE on a tourist visa under new rules that come into effect from next week, a senior official from the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
Earlier, nationals from 79 countries in the subcontinent, Middle East and elsewhere were not eligible for tourist visas and could come to the UAE only on a visit visa. "The new rules will encourage the tourism sector in the country," said Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director General of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD).
Al Merri announced the new rules after a meeting with hotel and tourist agency representatives yesterday. He said travel agencies will no longer be allowed to apply for visit visas. "Now these companies will only be allowed to apply for tourist visas," he said. "This will regulate the business and make the process of people travelling to the UAE easier and smooth, as tourism is a high priority for us."
Al Merri reiterated that people should apply only through licensed tourism agencies and hotels. Individuals cannot apply for the tourist visas, he added.
Short trips to the Iranian island of Kish, Oman and other neighbouring countries to change visit visas has also been stopped. "People wanting to apply for a new visit visa after the expiry of their visa, must go back to their home countries or distant countries," he said. However, Al Merri did not elaborate which countries would be considered distant.
"Nobody can now go on these visa runs. We don't want people to get stuck [on these trips]," said Al Merri. A visit visa will also not be converted to a work visa, he said. "Applicants will have to go back to their home country and wait for the work visa, which will be authorised by the Ministry of Labour," he said.
No free entry
The new visa rules will come into force from July 29 and all typing centres will get the software for the new online forms and fee payments by July 28, the official said. He added that those who apply before July 29 will be dealt with on the old system.
People applying for any visa will have to pay a refundable deposit of Dh1,000. Separate visas will be issued for various purposes such as medical treatment or studies. "We will know why each person is coming here for and the sponsor will be responsible for the visitor. This will address the issue of illegal overstayers," Al Merri said.
As per the new rules, 34 nationalities who earlier got a free visit visa for 60 days upon arrival in the UAE will now have to pay Dh100 for a 30-day visa.
--Tourist visas can only be applied for by a licensed hotel or a tourism agency.
--Residents can apply for a visa for their spouse or blood relative.
--Expatriates will no longer be allowed to sponsor friends, and all visitors should have a health insurance cover.
--Medical treatment visas can only be applied through licensed hospitals and clinics.
--Education visas can only be applied by a licensed educational institution.
--Exhibition and conference visas can only be applied for by the organisers.