Jessica Ashford – COO of PRO Partner Group
Jessica Ashford, COO at leading UAE Company Service Provider PRO Partner Group discusses the new UAE Residence Visa process, and the removal of the requirement to obtain a physical visa stamp in the passport through the new combined smart Emirates ID card.
It was announced that from the 11th April all foreign nationals obtaining a UAE Residence Visa will no longer be issued with a UAE Residence Visa stamp endorsed in their passport. Instead, individuals will receive the visa electronically and then use the updated Emirates Identity card, which will replace the requirement for the visa to be issued in the passport.
This change has now been implemented in some Emirates and we are seeing the changes starting to be implemented, particularly in Abu Dhabi and the free zones.
At PRO Partner Group we assist with a wide variety of residence visas in the UAE and we are seeing all types of visa moving to the new process, where the passport is not required as part of the process, and both the Visa and Work permit data is now present in the Emirates Identity card (EID).
In Abu Dhabi the processing time for obtaining a residence visa has now been reduced. Previously the passport was required to obtain the visa sticker, which was done via submission to Empost who then liaised with immigration and returned the passport with the completed stamped visa.
The removal of the visa stamping in the passport will save between 3 to 5 working days, which is a significant benefit. The previous timeline was realistically 15 – 21 working days, this can now be reduced to by 3 – 5 working days if all relevant documents are in place and there are no delays for approvals from the government departments or in the issuance of health insurance.
The resident visa itself can be obtained through the ICA smart app and printed off in physical form if required.
We do foresee potential teething issues when dealing with other departments, and other organisations in the UAE – such as banks, utility providers, travel agencies etc. that do usually require sight of the physical Resident Visa in order to authorize transactions, and it will be important for all other organisations and government departments to update their systems to embrace the new combined ID document and smart app printing visa process.
In Dubai, once the visa is approved an electronic version has always been issued by GDRFA however, we are still witnessing the physical visa being applied to the passport, for the visas we have processed within this week. This is not yet in line with the updated process announced by the government, but expectation is that the implementation in Dubai will come shortly.
Free zones, such as DMCC and RAKEZ are already adopting the new process from our first-hand experience.
We are aware that the ICA has coordinated with stakeholders in the aviation industry to ensure that airlines can now verify the residency status through the passport number and Emirates ID.
We expect those who fall under the new process to not experience any issues when exiting and entering the country with the electronic visa copy and EID card only.
Other UAE organisations such as Local Banks, Notary Publics and the DED may still request the physical Visas in the passport, but we expect these and other departments to update their systems swiftly in due course.
Overall, this is a very positive step and will make the immigration process more efficient and streamlined, it is a very welcome update from the UAE Government.
For companies looking for assistance with their staff residence visas, family visas, golden visas and any other related company setup, restructuring, local partner or PRO support matter in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE, Oman, Qatar or Saudi Arabia then get in touch with PRO Partner Group at www.propartnergroup.com.