Expired UAE visas valid until end of 2020: Dubai

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 17 April, 2020: All residents in the UAE whose visas are expiring between March 1 and the end of the year will be able to stay in the country without penalties, and will continue to be legal residents in the UAE, according to a top immigration official.

Meanwhile, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, yesterday chaired a remote meeting of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management.

His Highness was also updated on the progress of steps being taken to ensure the safety of all members of society, especially the extension of the round-the-clock sterilisation programme. Furthermore, the Dubai Crown Prince was informed of the committee’s efforts, in collaboration with relevant authorities, to ensure smooth daily life while also ensuring a stringent implementation of precautionary measures.

“The UAE’s dictionary doesn’t contain challenges and obstacles. We always emphasise on optimism and opportunities. We have complete confidence in our ability to overcome the current situation. We will renew our journey to accomplish our aspirations and ambitions for a better future for our nation,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

His Highness further remarked: “We have complete confidence in the community’s ability to support our efforts. Its cooperation is critical to consolidating efforts to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing. This remains one of our highest priorities.”

Sheikh Hamdan also said he is proud to see the diligence and commitment of teams from various authorities on the frontlines of the battle against Covid-19. He wished them the best in their mission.

By successfully handling the crisis, the UAE has set an example for the world, the Dubai Crown Prince said. This has been made possible due to its scientific approach, its constant efforts to monitor and assess the situation in accordance with the highest international standards and its skilled personnel.

Dubai officials commend nationals, residents

Prominent officials leading Dubai’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak commended all nationals and residents of the emirate for their strong commitment to staying at home and observing restrictions on movement. Dubai authorities are closely monitoring indicators measuring the impact of the comprehensive measures put in place to combat Covid-19, to decide on the future course of action.

The officials were speaking at a remote press conference organised by the Government of Dubai Media Office in cooperation with Dubai TV. The event broadcast today on Dubai TV and Dubai One channels featured a Q&A session on the measures being taken to combat the coronavirus (Covid-19). Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, and Dr. Amer Al Sharif, Head of Covid-19 Command and Control Centre and Vice Chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), answered a series of question posed by senior officials from major Arabic and English media in the UAE.

Expiring Visas

Maj Gen Mohammed Al Marri said all residents in the UAE whose visas are expiring between March 1 and the end of the year will be able to stay in the country without penalties and will continue to be legal residents in the UAE.

If those who have lost their jobs find alternate employment, the GDRFA will support them in transferring their visas or enable them to work for their new employers while remaining on existing visas. The GDRFA will continue to provide services to facilitate smooth visa transfers between companies in Dubai as well as between emirates. He said the Authority is working to ease any challenges related to immigration procedures for residents during the current period.

Help return home

Al Marri further said the GDRFA, in coordination with other concerned entities, is working to enable expatriates who wish to leave the country return to their home countries. He said the strong coordination between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and airline companies like Emirates and Flydubai have helped to create a smooth process for expatriates to leave the country. He underlined the key role played by DHA in ensuring all precautionary measures are observed with regard to departing expatriates, including medical tests. In addition, the GDRFA ensures passengers are provided with masks, gloves and disinfectants.

Al Marri elaborated on measures being taken to ensure the virus is not spread through ports of entry. Precautionary measures, including extensive on-site tests, have been implemented in air and sea ports and border crossings in collaboration with the DHA. Medical equipment has been installed in these ports and medical teams are available to carry out tests. Precautionary measures are in place not only to monitor people entering the country but also protect frontline personnel. Employees of GDRFA are subjected to regular precautionary tests.

Densely populated areas

Speaking about the plans and procedures being followed to combat the spread of the virus in densely populated areas, especially among blue-collar workers, Dr. Amer Al Sharif said Dubai’s Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs is exerting concerted efforts to manage the situation. The committee’s efforts in this regard is a continuation of measures taken even before the pandemic. The chairman of the committee has directly contacted large companies to discuss measures aimed at ensuring workers continue to enjoy a good standard of living.

The committee has also carried out awareness campaigns on health, nutrition, transportation and precautionary measures in high-density areas. He further said all key entities including the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs and the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, in collaboration with the DHA and Dubai Municipality are working closely to safeguard the health and wellbeing of blue-collar workers. Teams from these organisations have implemented comprehensive precautionary measures and conducted awareness campaigns in coordination with clinics providing healthcare services in these areas. Those who test positive are quarantined in medical facilities where they receive the highest level of care.

Increased testing

In response to a question on whether increased testing will bring a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, Dr. Amer Al Sharif said global studies suggest extensive tests must be conducted to limit the overall rise in cases of infections. Work is ongoing to conduct more extensive testing in specific high-risk segments like people returning from other countries, those who have been in contact with confirmed cases and people with symptoms. He said expanded testing will be conducted among people suffering from chronic diseases since they require rapid intervention if infected. Increased testing is an integral part of the strategy to limit the spread of the virus, he said.

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