Dhaka: Entry permit holders including migrant labors who had secured new jobs in UAE are hoping they could be allowed to fly into the country soon. Though granted entry permits, a number of travellers remain stranded in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda as UAE flights are restricted to residents and other special categories to and from these countries.
Some expats with expired residency visas have been granted automatic renewal for three months, but holders of valid entry-permits and visit visas are yet to receive the green light for travel.
A Bangladeshi expat with a valid entry permit has been desperately waiting for a travel approval so that he can start his new job in the UAE.
“I have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine. I hold a valid employment entry permit, which has been issued by my employer and expires on September 8. I was supposed to join my new workplace with immediate effect; however, I’ve been unable to do so,” he said.
“I am unable to register myself on the GDRFA portal for arrivals as it asks for a ‘residency number’, which I do not have since I will be travelling to Dubai for the very first time,” he added.
Permit holders like him are fear, if they do not travel before their papers’ expiration date, they may lose out on their work opportunities.
In response to the many queries posted by entry permit holders on Twitter, Dubai-based Emirates airline said, “Based on the latest updates, passengers who have Dubai residence visas stamped on their passports can travel to Dubai. All e-visa and entry permit holders can’t travel yet.”
A business owner who holds an entry permit for his wife and children, has not seen his family since April 2021.
“They went to Bangladesh for a holiday after their visas expired, and my plan was to bring them on a new visa. I have their entry permits with me, but they cannot travel. It is very frustrating,” he said.
In ‘rare cases’, some entry permit holders are being allowed entry, thanks to the humanitarian exemption clause, according to travel agents.
“However, these exemptions are being provided to very few passengers,” said a travel agency.
“These passengers have been landing at Sharjah airports as well as in Dubai. They need to get their valid ICA approvals. However, the process of getting approvals for these travellers is extremely complicated, so we are unable to help many such passengers.”
When travel permissions are granted to holders of entry permits and visit visas, agents are expecting the inbound travel demand to quadruple.
Issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) or the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), an entry permit is a document that allows foreigners to enter and stay in the UAE legally for a certain period of time.
A residence visa, on the other hand, is issued to a foreigner when he is already in the country.
Entry permits may be in a physical or an electronic form. They have a validity date, which refers to the period within which they must be used. For most entry permits, the validity is two months, which cannot be extended.
The duration of stay for each entry permit differs according to its type. For example, entry permits for transit allow the person to stay in the country for four days, while entry permits for employment allow the employee to stay in the country for two months, during which his sponsor must change the employee’s status into residence visa, or else he must leave before the document expires.
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