New Visa Renewal Process Angers Expats in the UAE

New visa renewal rules that require expatriates in the United Arab Emirates to submit a copy of their housing rent contract has angered expatriates living throughout the area.

All expatriates who wish to renew their right to work and/or live in countries within the UAE are being required to submit a copy of any housing contracts to the immigration authorities a newspaper in Abu Dhabi reported on Wednesday.

According to the semi official Arabic language daily Alitthad, visa extension will not be permitted unless expatriates are able to demonstrate that they have a rental contract in their own name. Speaking to the newspaper Major General Nassir Al Minhali, Ministry of Interior assistant undersecretary for naturalization and residence commented: “All expatriates in the UAE are now required to submit a copy of their house rent contract when they want to have their visa renewed…they should also present valid water or power bills to support that contract.

“This is part of a new data system enforced by the Ministry of Interior…we need accurate and comprehensive data regarding the expatriates residing in the country…this is very important as this data base will also serve applicants in their dealings with other departments.”

Clarifying the requirements, he added: “Those who work for Abu Dhabi-based companies and live in other emirates must bring a copy of the contract of their rent in those emirates…expatriates seeking to have their visa renewed in Abu Dhabi are not required to be living in the emirate…all they have do to is to bring a copy of their rent contract.”

The new requirements are believed to be in operation throughout the United Arab Emirates and will impact expats residing in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Many expatriates are very unhappy with the new requirements. At present many single expatriates choose to share accommodation, with the rental contract being allocated to one name. This will no longer be possible and expatriates fear that they will have to face the expense of securing independent accommodation.

Meanwhile, some are optimistic the rule will be amended considering the hardships it would entail on numerous expats. One resident said: “My visa is valid for more than a year. Am sure by then there would be more amicable amendments made to the rule.”

More than seven million expatriates are believed to be living in the UAE, with a total population of around 8.2 million in mid 2010, according to the Statistics Bureau. The Ministry of Interior claim that the new policy is aimed at collecting more accurate data about the people who live in the United Arab Emirates in order to introduce better planning and faster processing.

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