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Visa reforms in UAE: All you need to know

A new set of updates has been announced by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), Customs and Ports Security to improve 15 services provided to citizens, residents, and visitors through its smart services system. The updates came into effect on February 1, 2023

What are the key updates?

  • 90-day visit visa holders can avail a one-time visa extension service for 30 days.
  • Citizens of GCC nations who are registered without an Emirates ID can avail new services for cancelling and amending visa information.
  • Regarding renewal of residence visas, a new policy restricts renewal applications of a residence visa with a validity of more than 6 months. The grace period after expiry or cancellation of the visa has been extended from 30 days to 6 months. Hence expats have 6 months to either amend their status and get another residence visa or leave the country. Fines do not apply during the grace period. If renewal is needed within one to six months for travel purposes, a special authorisation and approval should be obtained from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in the emirate where the visa was granted.
  • An ICA smart service provides entry permits for residence visa holders who stayed outside the country for more than 6 months owing to work, studies or treatment abroad.
  • It is possible to extend the visit visa of a relative or friend on single trip or multiple trips for a period of 30, 60 and 90 days, and also extend the pre-entry validity of visas. The smart service facilitates printing visa and residence details in the account of the visa holder.
  • Addition of the Emirates ID application form reference number called PRAN number (the actual Emirates ID number is called IDN) on the fee receipt, stopping the delegates service, the facilities fund services, and all related features and verification mechanisms.
  • There will be a smart service fee of AED 100 which is added to the cost of visa and Emirates ID.
  • Issuing visas for a family group visiting the UAE for tourism, treatment or accompanying a patient, be it for a single trip or multiple trips for a period of 60 days and 180 days.
  • People of determination (UAE citizens) will be exempted from the fingerprint requirement when submitting applications for issuance, renewal or replacement of their passports. They will also be given exemption from Emirates ID procedures in individual accounts in the e-channel. No fees will be collected from them. They do not have to give financial guarantee for the service of opening a sponsorship file and providing a fee recovery service for this category.
  • Amending the data of residency of twins with the classification of occupations related to some types of residency.

The services have been made available in the accounts of individuals and establishments.

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