Abu Dhabi: Expats stranded in the ‘red list’ countries – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda- can return to the UAE by applying for travel exemption ‘on humanitarian grounds’. Expats can apply through the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) web portal and mobile app.
As per travel agencies, several expats including those who took their Covid vaccines outside the UAE have returned to the country using this provision.
‘Family reunion qualifies as the top reason for travel on humanitarian grounds. Once we’ve made the applications on behalf of the passengers, they’ve been able to return without any hassles. We have helped at least two such families return to the UAE since August 5’, explained Rashid Abbas, managing director of Arooha Travels.
‘All other pre-travel rules continue to apply in this case. The only flexibility this category of passengers enjoy is that they can either be unvaccinated or they may have taken the jab in their home country’, said TP Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travel and Tourist Agency.
All expats who wish to apply for humanitarian consideration must upload their relevant details on the ICA ‘Register Arrivals’ website. Then they must upload a copy of letter explaining the reason for emergency travel in ‘accessories info’ section. Once the documents are submitted on the ‘Register Arrivals’ webpage of the ICA, the applicants will receive a QR code in their e-mail.
The authorities grant the exemption on a case-to case basis. The resident must explain the emergency and must also possess a valid residency visa.
The following people can apply for humanitarian exemptions:
> Families who’ve been living apart for several months and wish to be reunited
> Children who need to apply for admissions to schools in the UAE
> Aged parents with valid UAE residency visas who would like to return to their children in the UAE
Expectant mothers and accompanying children
Documents needed to be provided:
> A copy of the letter explaining the reason for an emergency return to the UAE. This letter also needs to be uploaded on the ICA ‘register arrivals’ website
> Passport, Emirates ID, vaccination record (if any), valid visa, PCR test results, address details
> The agents also recommend that passengers carry Emirates ID and passport copies of their sponsors
But expats wishing to enter UAE by using this facility must also get pre-travel ICA and General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) approvals. However, while applying for ICA approvals, the ‘register arrivals’ and ‘residence entry confirmation’ are two separate processes, explained Sudheesh.
‘What we’ve noticed is that people are getting confused with them. For example, if the passenger is a Dubai resident and wants to apply for humanitarian exemption, they can do so on the ICA ‘register arrivals website’ and then apply on the GDRFA website for re-entry into Dubai as ICA is a federal database’, he explained.
‘The ICA pre-travel approval is a straightforward process. It instantly tells you with a ‘green status’ if you are allowed to travel or not. Those who receive the ‘red status’ cannot travel. This is applicable to all categories of travellers’, he added.
ICA ‘Register Arrivals’ website
Residents entry confirmation link (ICA)
Residents entry confirmation link (GDRFA)
ICA mobile app: (App store)
Earlier the authorities in UAE had allowed residents who received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE; and vaccinated and unvaccinated health workers, teachers, humanitarian cases and those employed in federal and local government agencies to return to UAE from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda.