Dubai: Khaleej Times has learnt that some expats in Dubai whose residency visas expired while they were abroad amid Covid-19 travel restrictions have been granted automatic visa extensions until December 9, 2021.
An employee at Amer centre call said that residents whose visas expired after the UAE suspended travel from several countries, including India, were granted the automatic visa renewal for three months, including a one-month grace period for reapplication. Anyone who wishes to travel to the UAE, can check their visa status at https://amer.gdrfad.gov.ae/visa-inquiry.
Travel agents and those stranded abroad with expired visas have confirmed these reports.
Pre-travel GDRFA approval is still mandatory
An employee at Amer call centre in Dubai said that residents whose visas expired after the UAE suspended travel from several countries, including India, were granted automatic visa renewal for three months, including a one-month grace period for re application. ‘However, before travelling into the UAE, they need to apply for a pre-travel GDRFA approval and adhere to all other RT-PCR testing protocols set by the government,’ the call center agent explained.
For example, travel agents who have been trying to get pre-travel approvals for residents stranded in India and Pakistan have confirmed that their clients have been granted automatic visa extensions. The agents reiterated that the automatic extension is only granted to Dubai residency visa holders. Those in other emirates are not immediately aware of their status. Residents who have been away from the UAE for more than six months can also return.
Smart Travels’ managing director, Afi Ahmed, explained: ‘In the case of expired visas, what we are noticing is that our clients, whose visas expired after June, July, and are holders of active visas are the only ones who are receiving the automatic three-month-long extension. Several passengers whose visas expired during the months of May to early June, for example, are yet to receive the exemptions.’ He added, ‘Even those who have stayed outside of the UAE for over 180 days and have received Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA) or GDRFA approvals can return. Airlines are accepting these categories of passengers. However, it is important to note that these exemptions are only in place for Dubai residency visa holders.’
According to Rashid Abbas, the managing director of Arooha Travels, ‘We noticed that the system was updated early Wednesday morning. Our agency has been working with some cases where the visas of parents were valid, but their baby daughter’s visa had expired on July 22.’
‘While applying for the pre-travel GDRFA this morning, we noticed that her visa expiry date had been automatically extended to December 9,’ he explained. He also said, ‘Upon checking with the visa validity website, we found that many have been granted an extension. However, some visas continue to show an expired status. We hope the exemption would eventually be granted to all those seeking re-entry into the UAE.’
Raheesh Babu, the chief operating officer of Musafir.com, an online travel agency, said, ‘We can confirm that a lot of our clients seeking re-entry have been granted an automatic extension until December 9. However, we are also awaiting clarity on those holding entry permits issued by Dubai. We have a lot of our corporate customers who want to fly in their new employees with entry permits.’
Expatriate Dinesh Ishwardas, stranded with an expired visa in India, says, ‘My visa expired on July 19. When I checked the GDRFA website, I saw that I had received an automatic extension until December 9. I am planning to return to my family in UAE as soon as possible.’