COVID-19: Passengers stranded in UAE airports due to suspension of all visas

Until Tuesday, visit visas approved before March 17 were deemed valid, hence many passengers, mainly from India, who arrived in the UAE were caught unawares when barred from entering the country  yesterday. 

Left stuck and left stranded inside the airports after they disembarked their flight,  they were asked to return to their country of origin. 

This was due to new guidelines issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), UAE ​suspending all visas to all foreigners, with the exception of diplomatic passport holders. 

As preventive and precautionary measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, ICA has modified many decisions throughout the development stages of the coronavirus outbreak and these are subject to further changes depending on the changes in the status of COVID-19.

Suspension of issuing of visa on arrival 

The UAE has suspended issuing visas on arrival. 

Suspension of all valid residency visa holders abroad 

The UAE has suspended the entry of all its valid visa holders, who are currently out of the country, for a renewable period of two weeks effective 12.00 noon of Thursday, March 19, due to the spread of Covid-19.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has requested those holding valid UAE visas, and now staying out of the country, to pursue the following procedures:

  • Those who are now staying in their countries of origin have to contact the UAE diplomatic missions in their respective nations for all necessary support and to streamline their return back to the UAE.
  • Those who are currently outside the UAE for business considerations have to contact their employers here as well as Emirati diplomatic missions in their host countries for all necessary support to facilitate their return back to the UAE.
  • Those who are now on vacation have to contact UAE diplomatic missions in their respective host countries for all necessary support to facilitate their return back to the UAE.

Temporary suspension of issuing of work permits

Starting today the UAE will temporarily suspend issuing of work permits excluding internal transportation, intra-corporate transfer permits and employment permits for Expo 2020.

All other types of labour permits, including for drivers and domestic workers, have been suspended by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation until further notice.

The ministry said the move has been taken in coordination with the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.  

Photo Courtesy: Twitter
Photo Courtesy: Twitter​

Temporary suspension of ‘new-entry visa holders

The UAE has also temporarily suspended the entry of  pre-approved, pre-issued, unstamped entry visas, tourist and residency visas,  including those issued before March 17 in its step up in the fight against COID19. 

Furthermore, all airlines have been barred from carrying UAE residents whose stay outside the UAE exceeds six months.

In its notification to UAE and international airlines the FAIC stated, "All airlines should not carry any passengers who have issued visas and want to enter the UAE. All issued visas are cancelled for the passengers who are abroad." 

It said: "Emergency visas will be issued for urgent cases. i.e. medical, etc. All these instructions are to be applied immediately and until further notice from the authorities."

ICA has urged all travellers,  families and kin to get in touch with them through their hotlines, to get updated on the latest measures in place.