UPDATE: Latest immigration restrictions in Mena

By Eudore R. Chand

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is being monitored closely by public health agencies around the world, and the governments in many jurisdictions including the Middle East have taken immigration–related measures in order to contain the spread of the virus.

According to immigration specialists,as of now, the following restrictions have been imposed in the region:

Bahrain

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for travellers who have been to Iran, Iraq or Lebanon in the 14 days prior to travel to Bahrain, except nationals of Bahrain and other GCC countries, foreign residents in Bahrain or those with special approval from the Ministry of Interior.

Quarantine:
o        for all travellers entering Bahrain.

Government closures/suspensions:
o        all travellers must have a pre-arranged visa for travel to Bahrain as no visa-on-arrival is issued to nationals of all countries; this does not apply to diplomats;
o        the endorsement of new residence visa stickers (including residence renewal applications) is limited to foreign nationals in select positions only if the applicant must travel internationally; otherwise paper visa printouts will serve as the permits until further notice.

Restrictions:
o        travel to Iran is not allowed for nationals of Bahrain.
o        border crossing at the King Fahad Causeway, linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, has been closed.

Egypt

Entry ban:
o        Entry ban for Qatari nationals.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial flights to/from Egypt until March 31;
o        closure of border with Sudan;

Iraq

Entry bans:
o        entry ban for nationals of Mainland China and Iran;
o        entry ban for foreign nationals who have visited Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macau SAR, Singapore, South Korea or Thailand in the 14 days prior to travel to Iraq;

Quarantine:
o        for nationals of Iraq and foreign residents in Iraq who have visited Mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macau SAR, Singapore, South Korea or Thailand in the 14 days prior to travel to Iraq.

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies in Basrah, and suspension on issuance of security passes until further notice.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of movement between Iraqi Kurdistan and Federal Iraq until March 28 for Iraqi and foreign nationals, excluding diplomats, medical personnel and security forces.
o        no travel to Iraq from Iran until April 1.

Iraqi Kurdistan

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for nationals of Albania, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom;
o        entry ban for foreign nationals who have visited Bahrain, Mainland China, France, Hong Kong SAR, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Macau SAR, Singapore, Spain, South Korea or Thailand on or after January 1, 2020.

Quarantine:
o        for no less than 30 days for nationals of all countries, including nationals of Iraq.

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies and suspension of all immigration processes until March 26 (the government announced public holidays for private and public sectors until March 26);
o        visa issuance suspended for nationals of Albania, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Mainland China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of movement between the governates in Iraqi Kurdistan and between Iraqi Kurdistan and Federal Iraq until March 28 for Iraqi and foreign nationals, excluding diplomats, medical personnel and security forces;
o        no commercial flights to/from Iraqi Kurdistan until March 28;

Jordan

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies until further notice;
o        suspension of movement between the governorates effective March 19.

Restrictions:
o        closure of all land, sea and air borders for all passenger traffic.

Kuwait

Entry ban:
o        for all travellers, except Kuwaiti citizens, immediate relatives of Kuwaiti citizens and foreign residents in Kuwait;

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies until March 29.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial flights to/from Kuwait until further notice.

Concessions:
o        expired work and residence permits for foreign nationals outside Kuwait can be renewed by employers in Kuwait;
o        validity of all categories of visit visas has been extended by an additional two months.

Lebanon

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies until March 29.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial domestic and international flights from March 16 for all travellers.

Morocco

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies until April 2.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial domestic and international flights from March 15;
o        suspension of repatriation flights for foreign nationals, effective March 22.

Concessions:
o        although not officially announced yet, it is expected that foreign nationals on visitor status whose visas have expired due to the current situation will be allowed to extend them.

Oman

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for all travellers except Omani citizens;
Government closures/suspensions:
o        suspension on the issuance of all in-country and out-of-country visas (except applications submitted on or before March 17 and Residence Cards applications);
o        suspension of all immigration operations, including services related to civil status, passports and residency, effective March 23 until further notice.

Restrictions:
o        travel is not allowed for nationals of Oman.

Pakistan

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies (including the federal government and the provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan) until April 5.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial flights to/from Pakistan effective March 22.

Qatar

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for all foreign nationals. Passengers transiting through the airport in Doha are allowed to continue their journey, provided that have valid documents for their next destination;

Quarantine:
o        14-day quarantine for Qatari nationals entering Qatar.

Government closures/suspensions:
o        suspension of processing for new entry visa applications (i.e.: work visa, business visa, family visa) for applicants of all nationalities in Qatar Financial Centre Free Zone (QFC);
o        suspension of processing of new residence permit applications for applicants of all nationalities in QFC;
o        closure of all Qatar Visa Centres until further notice;
o        suspension of all in-person immigration application submission.

Restrictions:
o        Nationals of Qatar must use their passport for entry.

Saudi Arabia

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for all travellers except Saudi citizens until March 31;

Government closures/suspensions:
o        closure of all government agencies except those related to public health and security or the military sector until March 31;
o        suspension of processing of all categories of visa applications in many consular posts, including Egypt, India, Jordan, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
o        suspension of work of all government departments and private institutions in Qatif governorate.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of all commercial flights to/from Saudi Arabia until March 31;
o        closure of border with Jordan for all passenger traffic;
o        closure of border crossing at the King Fahad Causeway, linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia;
o        temporary suspension of entry into and exit from Qatif governorate (from Saihat in the South to Safwa in the North). Residents who are currently outside of the governorate will be allowed to return to their homes.
o        travel is not allowed for nationals of Saudi Arabia and foreign residents in Saudi Arabia travelling to Bahrain, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, South Korea, Spain, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Concessions:
o        foreign nationals whose residence permit and / or exit-re-entry visa expired while they are outside Saudi Arabia are expected to be able to renew their permits through one of the electronic portals Absher or Muqeem (this option is currently unavailable but expected to be activated shortly);
o        foreign nationals whose visit visa expired while being in Saudi Arabia, including visas for business and for tourism, can renew the visa through one of the electronic portals Absher or Muqeem.

Tunisia

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for all travellers except Tunisian citizens due to the closure of borders.

Government closures/suspensions:
o        suspension of issuance of all residence permit applications until further notice.

United Arab Emirates

Entry ban:
o        entry ban for all travellers (including GCC citizens) except UAE nationals and diplomats;

Government closures/suspensions:
o        Suspension of processing of the following applications: a) all new employment entry permit applications for foreign nationals who are outside of the UAE; b) all new residence entry permit applications for foreign nationals who are outside of the UAE; c) all new mission entry permit applications; and d) all new applications for a visit visa (for tourism, etc.). The suspension includes all pending applications.
o        Closure of the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (Immigration Office).
o        Reduced hours for Amer service centers.
o        The online processing of applications will continue, but there will be a suspension of out-of-country visa applications, the endorsement of residence visa stickers and all in-person applications, including the amendment of personal details and the ability to obtain and/or amend Unified Identity Numbers.
o        Government service offices at major free zones in the UAE, including DAFZA, DDA, DIFC, DMCC and JAFZA are closed until further notice. Online applications will continue to be processed but all in-person applications have been suspended, including the endorsement of residence visa stickers.
o        Reduced hours for the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization, including both Tasheel and Tawjeeh service centers. The processing of online applications continues, but all out of-country applications and labor awareness training is suspended. Employee’s personal appearances are not currently required for the submission of an employment contract at Tawjeeh.
o        In Abu Dhabi, foreign nationals processing their in-country residence permit application must wait 14 days from the date of arrival in the UAE (prior to the implementation of current entry restrictions) to complete their medical examination.
o        Emirates Identity Card applications are typed only after the applicant has completed a medical examination and is fit to work. Applicants sponsored by employers in select jurisdictions must wait 14 days from the date of arrival in the UAE (prior to the implementation of current entry restrictions) to register their biometrics).
o        All Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC), except its main branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are closed until further notice. The attestation of documents can be arranged only at these main MOFAIC branches.
o        Suspension of the endorsement of residence visa stickers.

Restrictions:
o        suspension of transit through all airports in the UAE for two weeks, effective March 24;
o        travel outside the United Arab Emirates is not allowed for nationals of the United Arab Emirates.

Concessions:
o        applications for individuals who apply for an employment or residence visa while they are in the UAE under visitor status can continue their process. Similarly, those who renew their visa in-country are not affected.

CLICK FOR MORE CORONAVIRUS STORIES

ALSO READ:



Dubai Gazette