Visas and Sponsorship for Dubai
This was already a minefield, at least for the processing, but now Dubai Immigration and Naturalisation, has devised a list of multiple categories to encompass all types of travellers. The reason behind it is that the ‘visit visa’, which was given on entry for certain countries or bought with the ticket from others e.g. The Philippines, was being abused. People were entering on a visit visa and after the 30 days, going on what is commonly known as a visa run. This is the exercise of exiting the country to come back in on a new 30 day visit visa… and so it goes on.
This would then fly in the face of employment bans which is a very emotive subject. The law still states that if anybody leaves their place of employment within the first year, they are liable for an immediate 6 month labour ban. This is purely to do with employment and is separate from an Immigration ban, which is 1 year in length and normally issued for misdemeanours of a serious nature like theft or other punishable offences.
To exploit the 6 month labour ban, many workers would continue working on a ‘ban’, and just exit the country twice, until the ban was over, and then they could go onto the sponsorship of their new employer.
At this point, it’s safe to say that most managerial roles do not initiate a ban if the employee leaves, and there are many great corporations who do not ban staff of any level. This is refreshing, as there are some companies who abuse the rule and threaten to ban people if the resign or ask for a promotion/pay raise.
The contract states the role and most commonly for lower paid staff, the duration of the contract. If the employee breaks that contract at anytime, the are liable for a ban.
The NOC (No Objection Certificate)
The NOC is what is required to ‘safely’ transfer from one job to another. If you choose to leave a company within the term of your contract, and the employer is happy to let you go, they still have to produce an NOC. This is actually a brief letter stating the employees name and passport number, the company’s details, or employers details (if working for an individual) and clearly wording their agreement to let the employee transfer without a ban to the next emmployer. The employee is then said to have obtained a ‘release’. This letter is shown during the visa process, and as long as an NOC is obtained, there is no ban applicable.
The Visa Process
The visa process can be painful, therefore the job is done by a company ‘PRO’ or public relations officer (but not in the sense of an advertising or marketing role). If it is an individual applying for a visa for a housekeeper, driver etc, there are ‘company formation’ companies who will do this for a fee. The very brave can go to immigration themselves, but this can be a very long and arduous process as you are passed from one desk to another; to get a signature, pay a deposit, get a translation typed or wait for a stamp. I recommend wholeheartedly using a start-up company, who use their regular contacts at immigration, while you have a coffee!
It is also necessary for the individual who’s having a visa processed, to have to exit the country to go from visit visa status to working visa status. Previously this could be waived (for some nationalities) if you paid a fee. In the past, it was not necessary to fly back to your country of origin, but the now more stringent laws are reintroducing this. At the time of writing this, it is still not clear if all nationalities have to fly to their home country i.e. British, EU and American citizens. Either way, for the visa to be processed, it is necesssary to exit Dubai as a forrmality, to then return under your new status. This is known as a ‘visa run’. You fly out (most commonly) to Qatar (around 45 minutes duration), enter the terminal building, do not pass through immigration but go through transit, enter the departure lounge, and come straight back on the same plane which brought you out. It was also possible to drive to Hatta (another Emirate within the UAE) and have your passport stamped there – although the point behind that is that you should be driving to the Omani border, but that didn’t always seem to be enforced.
It is a pre-requisite to have a medical and pass it, before your visa is finally processed. This entails a blood test and chest X-Ray. If you are found to be HIV+ or have Hepatitis C, you will be immediately refused and deported. This is under discussion, but as yet (September 2008) the rule remains. It is also imperative to have valid medical insurance to enter the country, even on a tourist visa.
Up-to-date Visa Guidelines are stated below:
Visa requirements for entering Dubai vary greatly between different nationalities and it is always advised to check regulations before traveling. Currently, every nationality entering the UAE needs a visa except citizens of GCC countries (Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) expatriate residents of the GCC (certain nationalities and professions) and British citizens with the right of abode in the UK. The following citizens of Europe also receive visas on arrival citizens of : Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Vatican.
In addition, nationals from Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea in Asia, as well as those from the United States of America and Canada also now receive Visas on arrival.
GCC nationals can stay more or less as long they like. British citizens can stay for a month and then apply for a visa for a further two months. European, American, South African and Australian citizens may obtain a visit visa from the UAE embassy in their respective countries before departure. Please note that Israelis and travelers whose Passports bear Israeli stamps will be denied a visa.
For all other nationalities, a visa must be applied for before the visitor enters the country either through their respective embassy, a local UAE sponsor or a local hotel.
This visa is issued through tourist companies and it is valid for 30 days. It You cannot renew it or extend it. If the Visa holder of the tourist visa stays more than the 30 days, that person has to pay a fine per day plus some charges are for an out pass.
Visa is issued through Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department. It is stamped for 30 days validity but it is valid for 60 days and can be extended for 30 more days by paying some amount. The extension needs to be done before the 60th day. If the visitor stay more than 60 days or more than 90 days (after the extension) they will have to pay a fine per day plus some charges for an out pass.
Certain passport holders can enter the UAE without obtaining a visit visa prior to arrival and stay up to 30 days.