UAE tourist visa: new five year multi-entry option a lifechanger for families

At present, thousands of visitors must apply for visas every time they visit relatives

Palestinian accountant Mohammed Fanni has struggled to add relatives to his residency visa. He hopes the new multi-entry visa will allow them to visit for longer stays. Courtesy: Mohammed Fanni
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Expat families said new multi-entry visa lasting for up to five years at a time will make it easier for relatives to visit the Emirates.

The move, set out by the Cabinet on Monday, will mean visitors can come and go more easily.

It has not yet been revealed if the government will charge for such a service, though many nationalities already pay to enter the country for 30 or 90 days.

Mohammed Fanni, 27, an accountant from Palestine, said relatives will not have to restrict stays to short visits.

Tourism of course will receive a boost, people will simply come more for more things

"People can come for more purposes if that becomes an option," he said.

"Like if someone needs to come here for treatment, they will know that they can come and go freely for five years."

For someone who finds it difficult to sponsor relatives, he hopes they can simply come to stay longer periods on a tourist visa.

"And tourism of course will receive a boost, people will simply come more for more things," he said.

Christopher Inciong, who has lived in the UAE for 11 years, hopes his parents will make the journey from the Philippines more often.

The paid-for visa — about $90 for 30 days and $170 for a multi-entry 30-day visa — adds to the cost of the flights and they only visit once per year.

“This makes it more realistic for them to come and enjoy the UAE,” said Mr Inciong, who works in marketing at an motor company.

“The requirements before were not easy because it depended on your position at work and your financials.

“This will be very great for families with kids. Before, you had to plan and choose the best time of year but since the new visa is for an extended period, you have the luxury of getting grandparents here as much as they want.

"They can spend time with their grandkids and children on special occasions, birthdays, Christmas.”

Nitin Chivilkar, an Abu Dhabi resident from Raigad in India, said he hoped the new visa would mean his friends and family could visit him more often.

"I live with my wife and we have a resident’s visa but this is good news for my family and friends who come to visit from India," said Mr Chivilkar, an assistant chief engineer at the Nation Towers skyscraper complex.

“I have been here for 10 years and this is a big step forward. My sisters and friends usually have to reapply for a three month maximum visiting visa every time they want to come and stay,"

“It is easy to get and can be done within six days for about Dh300 but if this is a multi-entry visa for five years it is pretty good news for them."

Existing system

At present, visitors from some countries can secure a 30-day visa on arrival at the airport plus a 10-day grace period. This includes travellers from Britain, Ireland, Australia, China and Hong Kong, among others.

Others including European citizens from the Schengen Area can secure a 90-day visa. This includes many of the EU members, Russia, South Korea and Argentina and Brazil, among others.

Other nationalities require paid-for visas, costing for example $10 for 48-hours or $30 for 96-hours and $90 for 30 days. This includes Pakistan, India and the Philippines and others.