overseas Filipinos

Filipinos with expired visit visas in UAE given 1 more month to avoid overstay

Jojo Dass
Another new policy allows resident visa holders, or those currently employed but are outside the country, to return without having to secure prior approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship or ICA

Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with expired visit visas are now able to buy more time to legally extend their stay.

The UAE announces two new immigration policies: one that gives those with expired visit visas one more month to leave and avoid fines for overstaying, and another that allows resident visa holders, or those currently employed but are outside the country, to return without having to secure prior approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship or ICA.

No longer mandatory

The country’s official media outlet, Emirates News Agency, announced that ICA registrations and approvals currently in place will no longer be mandatory for UAE residents to return to the country, and pre-approvals for residents’ return will be automatically granted.

The decision was reached as summer gives way to the start of the new academic year. The move also considered the eased restrictions on trade services and leisure across the country, the media agency stated.

“To facilitate the return of UAE residents, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has taken the initiative of replacing its registration and approvals with automatic pre-approvals, foregoing the need to submit an application,” the news outlet said.

Resident visa holders were advised to ensure that their personal data – UAE ID number, passport number, and nationality – are up to date by visiting uaeentry.ica.gov.ae to facilitate travel procedures.

Not included in this new policy are resident visa holders who obtained their visas in Dubai and are returning to this city. The ICA said these resident visa holders would need to secure prior approval from the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA) through its website.

Authorities stressed that returning residents must take the mandatory COVID-19 nasal swab test (PCR) through accredited laboratories in the country they are in, showing negative test results for a period not exceeding 96 hours prior to departure. Travelers must present certification showing these results to the airlines upon check-in.

All precautionary and preventive measures apply to UAE residents upon their arrival to the country, in accordance with protocols in effect, including taking a PCR test on arrival, adhering to the approved quarantine period, and downloading the Al-Hosn application for health and safety purposes.

Visit visas

In a related development, the ICA decides to extend the deadline for holders of expired entry permits and visas from August 11 to September 11, 2020, so that the holders may leave the country exempt from all fines due to overstaying.

“The ICA urged those eligible to leave the country within the set deadline, which will help facilitate their return to the UAE,” the official media agency stated in its announcement.

The UAE had earlier announced that those with visit visas that have expired after March 1, 2020 must leave the country by August 11, 2020, and will not be fined or cited for violations.

Sid Rivera, marketing manager at Al Qadi Tourism, said there were Filipinos with expired visas who had opted to overstay as they could not afford to renew their visas, a process which can cost up to AED2,500.  

Marami na ang nag-renew ng visit visa nila before August 10,” said Rivera. “Ang mga hindi lang nakapag-renew ay yung mga walang pera pa, at ready na sila mag-overstay. But bigla nga po nag-announce ng good news ang UAE na extended uli ang visit visa nila,” he said.

(Many have already renewed their visas before August 10. The only ones who didn’t were those who had no more money, and they were ready to overstay. Fortunately, the UAE announced some good news by extending their visit visas again.)

As per UAE law, overstay fines start at AED200 for the first day, plus another AED100 for each succeeding day. Those who opt to overstay go underground and work illegally in the hopes that the government would one day announce an amnesty program.

In 2018, the UAE implemented a four-month amnesty program from August 1 to December 1 which benefited over 7,000 overstaying Filipinos. Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes said at the time that around 64% of those granted amnesty chose to stay behind. – Rappler.com