UAE-India flights: Covishield vaccine not yet valid for return to Emirates

Residents may re-enter from some countries only if immunised in the UAE

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UAE residents who are trying to travel home from six countries must have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the Emirates to return, airlines have reiterated.

People who were immunised in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda or Nigeria are not eligible to return at this time, regardless of which vaccine they took.

This includes people who received Covishield, the name given to Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine when it is made on licence by Serum Institute of India.

The rules also apply to people who received AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines in Pakistan or the Moderna shot in Sri Lanka.

On Saturday, people immunised abroad took to social media to say they were confused by the rules and seek clarity from airlines, which were first announced by the government last week.

“All passengers with a valid UAE residence visa, who have been fully vaccinated in the UAE and who hold an official vaccination certificate issued and approved by relevant authorities in the UAE, are permitted to return to the UAE,” Emirates Airline’s support account wrote in response to people who had taken Covishield.

Etihad said on its website that only a "a fully vaccinated national or resident of the UAE – you must have proof of having received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within the UAE no less than 14 days before travel", could return to UAE at this stage.

Thousands were stuck abroad when passenger flights from India to UAE were halted by the Emirates in response to the surge of the Delta variant. Residents who were in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda or Nigeria when arrivals from those countries were put on hold are in the same situation.

As of Thursday, residents from those six countries can return to the Emirates if they were vaccinated in the UAE.

Exemptions exist for unvaccinated children, students and people working in education, medicine or for the government.

UAE residents living in emirates other than Dubai can apply for permission to return from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Dubai residents need approval from the ICA and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, immigration specialists said.

Where can I apply for permission to return?

ICA website: https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/registerArrivals

For Dubai: https://smart.gdrfad.gov.ae/Smart_OTCServicesPortal/ReturnPermitServiceForm.aspx

People with residency visas from emirates other than Dubai can apply on the ICA link given above.

To gain approval, they must provide proof of vaccination, residency and a PCR test result.

People should apply on the ICA link after they get a negative PCR test prior to flying to comply with the test validity requirements.

They will also need to confirm with the airline about the 72-hour or 48-hour validity of the test before boarding, depending on the country of departure.

Dubai residents, as of now, should apply on both the GDFRA and the ICA links.

The eligibility criteria at present is that people should have received both doses of the vaccine in the UAE.

Clarity about the status of unvaccinated residents is expected later.

Where can I check my visa validity?

To check visa status and validity for all emirates other than Dubai, visit this website: https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/default.html#/fileValidity

If you are a Dubai resident, check this link: https://smart.gdrfad.gov.ae/Public_Th/StatusInquiry_New.aspx

What are my options if my visa lapsed when I was abroad?

People who were outside the UAE for more than six months first need to check their residency validity.

A visa becomes inactive if a resident cannot enter the UAE for more than six months. In such cases, they can now file for a re-entry permit.

For Dubai: https://smart.gdrfad.gov.ae/Smart_OTCServicesPortal/ReturnPermitServiceForm.aspx

For other emirates: https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/residents-entry-confirmation

Updated: August 08, 2021, 7:31 AM
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