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UAE residency visa validity cut

UAE residency visa validity cut

It’s to save us all money, apparently. The trouble is, says Alexander McNabb, that it will actually end up costing everybody quite a lot more.

December 9, 2010 12:44 by

Gulf News and The National have both reported on a new move to cut labour card validity to two years instead of three. This means that residency visas will also now only be valid for two years.

Quite apart from allowing us to look forward to a more frequent bruise on the inside of our right arms along with the attendant paperwork, the move will obviously mean shelling out for a visa, labour card and health card more often. Rather brilliantly, Gulf News attempts to quote the rather confusing story filed by the Emirates’ national news agency WAM where it appears to assert that the move will save everyone money. That WAM story appears to have been filed in Arabic only, BTW – I couldn’t find hide nor hair of it in English.

According to GN’s piece, 70% of all labour cards are cancelled before two years have passed, so reducing their term to two years will save UAE industry Dhs678 million. Apparently total license and work permit fees for 2009 were Dhs2.25 billion.

Let us not dwell churlishly on the fact that 2009 had to have been a record year for cancelled visas because of the good old downturn and the enormous outflux of labourers, let alone all those estate agents, from Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Oh no.

A short time spent trawling the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners website for information on the cost of visa paperwork (also called DNRD, the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department. You’d think they’d make up their minds, wouldn’t you?) not only yields some interesting tips on building websites and a peek into some fascinating minds, but also tends to result in returning ‘Under Construction’ whenever you approach anything that might look like being useful information. Thank goodness for e-government.

However, DubaiFAQs estimates the cost of a visa and the slew of papers, permits and cards that goes with it to be as much as Dhs6,000. If we decrease the validiy of visas by one third (3 years to 2 years), we can perhaps assume that visas will effectively cost us 33% more rather than 70% less. Not only does that cost us more money, it means residence visa revenues would increase to a handy 3 billion dirhams at the, presumably unusually low, 2009 rate.

The move will also result in enhancing ‘competitiveness and movement in the job market’, GN quotes a Labour Ministry official as saying.

It might well do for all I know. But all I can see is that nasty, dehumanising shuffle around the Satwa clinic and that brutal little needle moment looming closer on the horizon.

- Fake Plastic Souks

Alexander McNabb is Group Account Director of Spot On Public Relations, Dubai. He regularly blogs at, where this post originally appears.

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  1. mrn on December 9, 2010 3:05 pm

    strange but true newspapers do report what is fed to them and dont verify..Just imaging a manager who has a chance of working 10 years… if at 3 years renewal at 6000 it would cost 24000 …. for 4th cycle.
    in this new case it would be 30 000 for 10 years. .it is simple mathematics.. strange who found it would be beneficial for a company for doing all this?

  2. Andrew on December 9, 2010 3:50 pm

    Yeah I had a chuckle when I read that in the Gulf News. I can’t quite decide what’s funnier; the bare faced cheek of WAM , or the Gulf News’ continued slavish devotion to publishing anything official without the slightest questioning of it.

  3. Ofiroz on December 12, 2010 9:48 am

    Petrol price hike, grocery price hike, restaurant price hike, Water and Electricity price too going to be increased in 2011! Hidden tax, Now this is the new way to make money for Government. What I can’t digest is how they think they are making fools out of expats by saying they actually saves money by making visa rule altered!
    Only one thing seems to be going down is Real Estate. If that too goes high, I am sure this place would be similar to our countries; India, UK or USA, so why should any one work here?

  4. Andrew on December 12, 2010 2:33 pm

    Well to be fair they do lose money on both retail sales of fuel in addition to water & power, the latter of which is heavily subsidised. I also fail to see how the government (as opposed to private businessmen who are also public officials) get their hands on your money through retail price inflation.

    Your last assertion of about the price of real estate going up being a reason to leave is non-sensical, unless you’re presumably referring to rents – which is a valid point.


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