Covid-19: Reunion time as UAE resumes visit visas

‘The online system to make applications are yet to open’

Following the UAE’s decision to start issuing entry permits, scores of residents in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and other emirates have begun planning a reunion with their families whom they haven’t seen for months.

On Thursday, the UAE government announced it has resumed issuing entry permits, except for work, starting from September 24.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) said the resumption of issuing visas is within the framework of easing restrictions and strengthening the country’s efforts towards supporting recovery plans of the country’s economy. However, the issuance of work permits is still on hold at this stage.

Dubai, which has its own immigration authority, began issuing visit visas in June. Travel agents have said they are receiving a flood of enquiries from expatriates who wish to bring their families to the UAE which, in turn, will bolster the country’s tourism industry.

The ICA stated that the decision also follows the precautionary measures undertaken by the travel industry to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The decision to suspend the issuance of visas was put in place in March, with the exception of diplomatic passport holders, as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the virus.

Travel agents receive scores of enquiries

Harish Kumar, managing director of Jubilant Group said:  , however, we are receiving tonnes of enquiries from people who want to bring their families here.” He said a majority of the people want to bring their close relatives such as their children, parents, and siblings, etc.

“We are receiving enquiries from a lot of Indians and Egyptian nationals. Several people from Africa are calling as well. They believe it would be a lot more convenient as they can now serve quarantine in the Emirates where they are residing,” said Kumar. He also said that there is a continuous stream of applicants to Dubai and he is receiving at least 500 applicants per day. “We are hoping the system will open by later tonight,” he added.

TP Sudheesh, manager of Deira Tours and Travels, said: “We are focusing a lot on the applications for visas of people who want to land in Sharjah.”

Residents too are looking forward to reuniting with the family members. However, many are also hoping that the application of work visas will begin soon too. Anna Lapay, a Filipina, said: “The economy must thrive even in crises otherwise it will be too late. When government preventive measures are in place then self-discipline amongst people is a necessity.”

Another resident, Fatima Siddiqui, said: “I am planning to bring my parents from India as the situation there is very precarious. I feel they will be safer here.”

Jennifer D’costa, an Indian HR professional added: “My son is a university student and has been in India all this while. I am planning to bring him here, as the rest of our family lives here.”


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