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Death of the visa run?
Visitors to the UAE have been told they must wait one month before re-entering the country. What does this mean for the legion of illegal workers in the Emirates, and those on daytrips to other Gulf states?
January 18, 2010 2:01 by Ben Flanagan
According to a recent report in Gulf News, visit, transit and tourism visas are only valid for single entry into the UAE – and entry permits will not be reissued until one month after an individual’s departure from the Emirates.
The report asserted that visitors who make daytrips to neighboring Gulf states are not allowed re-entry into the UAE. According to the newspaper, some visitors have faced difficulties in returning to the UAE after short sightseeing trips to Oman or Bahrain.
“A visitor needs to get a new entry permit to re-enter the country once he or she leaves the country for any destination. The new entry permit will be issued only after one month from the date the visitor leaves the UAE,” Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri, Director-General of the Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (DNRD), told Gulf News.
There appears to be widespread confusion over this issue. Following the Gulf News report, many readers expressed alarm that they will not be able to take relatives and friends on daytrips out of the UAE. And the law could potentially spell the death of the ‘visa run’, which is currently used by thousands of illegal workers to prolong their stay in the Emirates.
There are certain points to make in an attempt to clear up confusion over this “re-entry rule”, which was introduced in 2008 in an attempt to crack down on visa runs.
First, Major General Al Merri told Gulf News that the immigration department will “take into consideration any exceptional circumstances [on a] case-by-case basis”. And this certainly seems to be the case, given that different emirates appear to enforce the law in different ways. Sharjah, for example, is known to be stricter in its interpretation of the re-entry law, in comparison with other emirates.