Saudi Arabia relaxes visit visa rule for GCC residents, regardless of profession
The Ministry of Tourism in Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday that all GCC residents can now apply for a visit visa to the Kingdom - irrespective of their professions.
Previously, there was a list of accepted professions, available to check on the ministry website, that GCC residents had to fall under in order to be allowed to apply.
According to the website, visitors can apply for and receive a multiple-entry visa for up to 90 days. This permit would be valid for a year and would allow the holder to perform Umrah, except during the Haj season. They can also apply for a single-entry visa for up to 30 days, which is valid for three months from the date of issuance.
The cost of an eVisa is SAR300 plus full health insurance fees.
The following are the eligibility requirements:
1. The applicant must be at least 18 years old. For children under 18, the guardian must apply first.
2. The applicant's passport must be valid for at least six months, and the applicant must have a residency ID from a GCC country valid for no less than three months.
3. Visa holders can perform Umrah anytime except during the Haj season
4. The applicant must complete separate visa applications for each member of their direct family, and must accompany the member while entering the Kingdom.
For more information and apply for a visa go to www.visa.visitsaudi.com
Earlier, it was announced that the Kingdom would allow travellers to get a 96-hour entry permit to the country along with their flight tickets. The holder is allowed to perform Haj and Umrah with this transit visa.
UAE, other GCC countries first to get UK’s new ETA scheme
Visitors to the United Kingdom from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and Jordan, will be the first to benefit from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme.
The scheme will be expanded worldwide throughout 2024 and Qatari visitors will be the first to be able to apply for an ETA in October 2023, officials said.
By applying for an ETA in advance, visitors will benefit from smooth and efficient travel. The application process will be quick, light touch and entirely digital with most visitors applying via a mobile app and receiving a swift decision on their application.
The officials said that an ETA is not a visa, it does not permit entry into the UK, but authorises an individual to travel to the UK. On arrival, an individual will still need to obtain leave to enter, as per the process now, by seeing a Border Force Officer or using an eGate if eligible to do so.
Visitors from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will need an ETA to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024, but can apply in advance from February 1, 2024. Before February 22, 2024, they will continue to require an EVW to travel to the UK.
The new scheme will entirely replace the current Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) Scheme which requires visitors to the UK from GCC states to pay a higher cost for a single-use visit.
Egypt offers citizenship to foreign investors
Egypt announced on offering citizenship to foreign investors willing to spend at least $250,000 in the country.
According to state newspaper Al Ahram, a decision by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli published in the official gazette, says the premier can now “grant Egyptian nationality” to applicants that meet one of four conditions.
Foreigners can either buy at least $300,000 of real estate in Egypt, invest $350,000 in the country, deposit $500,000 in an Egyptian bank account or “make a non-refundable $250,000 deposit in direct revenues in foreign currency into the state's public treasury”
Get birth certificate issued in UAE online in a day
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) on Thursday announced the launch of the digital service, aiming to streamline procedures and provide customers with efficient services. With this new Mohap service, residents can simply file a request and pay a nominal fee of Dh60 each for both birth and death certificates and both Emiratis and expatriates can now apply without having to visit any government office or typing centre. The new process, available online, is quick and hassle-free, with documents being issued within one working day.
90-day visit visa now available for UAE residents' family and friends
UAE residents planning to invite their friends or family to the country can apply for a 90-day single or multiple-entry visit visa through the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP).
This service can be accessed by residents if they have a residence visa issued in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah or Umm Al Quwain. The host is required to pay a refundable deposit of Dh1,000 for this visa.
UAE visa reforms: 15 services updated for residents, visitors, including a 30-day extension
UAE's Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), Customs and Ports Security on Wednesday announced the implementation of a new package of updates to improve the services provided to citizens, residents, and visitors through its smart services system. One of the key updates is the introduction of a one-time 30-day visa extension service for 90-day visit visas.
Issuance of group family visa for tourism, treatment, and patient companion, for single and multiple entries for a period of 60 days and 180 days
Exempting people of determination citizens from the requirement of fingerprinting when submitting applications for the issuance, renewal, and replacement of passports.
Allowing visa extension for a period of 30 days for one time for holders of 90-day visas, and prohibiting residency visa renewal if its validity is for more than 6 months.
Providing services for cancelling and amending visa data in the accounts of GCC citizens without Emirates ID.
Allowing the extension of visit visa of a relative or friend for single or multiple entries for a period of 30, 60, and 90 days in the individual’s accounts.
Visit Visa Validity Extension in UAE
After receiving travel visa, tourists and visitors to the UAE are required to enter the nation within a certain window of time. A 30-day visit visa, for instance, must be used to enter the UAE within 30 days of being issued. According to the most recent procedure, travelers must pay a charge to cancel their visa if they are unable to enter the UAE during the allotted time. As an alternative, individuals can pay a fee of Dh200 to extend their stay in the nation by two months.
Russia's Mutual Visa Recognition Agreement with Belarus
Russia and Belarus have signed Mutual Recognition of Visas and Other Matters Related to the Entry of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons into the Territories of the Member States of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Union State that will enter into force on 1 February 2023.
The Agreement aims to create a legal framework for regulating the procedure for foreign citizens and stateless persons to cross the Russian-Belarusian border.
Foreign nationals holding any permission to stay authorization (visa, temporary resident permit, permanent residence permit) issued by the government of Russia will also be permitted to reside in Belarus so long as the permissions granted under the authorization type remain valid and foreign nationals permitted to enter Russia visa-free will also be permitted to enter Belarus.
Schengen visa application likely to be digitized
UAE residents wishing to travel to Schengen countries may not have to wait for appointments, stand in a queue or submit their passports to process their visas in the near future. Travelers to the 27 EU countries may soon be able to apply for their visa online and plans to digitalise the process are underway.
UAE announces amended Emiratization deadlines for private companies
The UAE Cabinet has issued a decision, amending some provisions of the country’s Emiratization scheme in the private sector. The annual target is now divided by 1 per cent in the first six months and the other 1 per cent in the second half of the year.
Private companies are still mandated to raise Emiratization rates by 2 per cent every year to reach 10 per cent by 2026. It is the procedure of the law's implementation that has been revised, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (Mohre)
The ministry clarified what has and has not changed under the latest update:
The overall mechanism for achieving the targeted Emiratization rates has not changed. However, it became semi-annual instead of annual. Companies with more than 50 employees are required to achieve an increase of 1 per cent of skilled jobs every six months and reach a growth of 2 per cent by the end of the year
The financial contributions for non-compliant companies have not been modified.
There will be no new or additional commitments from companies. However, fines for non-compliance will start to be applied in July 2023 (this collection will include the remaining contributions from 2022).
Tourists overstaying their visas now face an absconding case filed by travel agents
UAE travel agencies and tour operators are now filing absconding cases against tourists travelling to the UAE on a visit visa of 30 or 60 days who overstay their visit visas without any notice. Some agents say overstayers could be 'blacklisted' and banned from entering the UAE or any GCC country if they do not exit more than five days after their visas' expiry.
However, these circulars are from travel agencies and not the immigration authorities.
Visitors who overstay their visit visa duration must pay their overstay fine and obtain an out pass or leave permit at an additional cost before exiting the country. This is applicable to visitors who are exiting through Dubai, the out pass is not required by visitors you are leaving from other emirates.
Qatar extends the validity of visitors' Hayya Cards
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) has announced the extension on the validity of Hayya Card for fans and organizers, which was applied during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
MOI clarified in a statement that holders of this Card among visitors would be allowed to enter the State of Qatar from yesterday until January 24, 2024. However, the cardholders wishing to enter the country must have proof of hotel reservation or appropriate accommodation approved with the online Hayya portal as well as a passport valid for at least three months upon arrival.
Incoming travelers must have a return ticket on them as well as health insurance valid for the duration of their stay in Qatar, the ministry added.
Ejari no longer required for dependent visa applications in Dubai
The Ejari is no longer a need to start or renew a dependant visa application, according to GDRFA authorities. In some circumstances, Ejari is necessary, and they must present the document for the dependents visa to be issued (Ex. Sponsoring parents)
Saudi Arabia Starts Issuing Free 4-Day Stopover Transit Visa
Saudi Arabia launched the service of issuing electronic Stop-over Transit Visa for international visitors arriving in the Kingdom by air for all purposes, effective from Monday, Jan. 30.
The visa holders can stay in the Kingdom for four days and the duration of the visa is three months. The visa is free of cost and it will be issued instantly along with the flight ticket. The ministry launched the service in coordination with the relevant authorities and in cooperation with the Saudi national airlines.
The Transit visa allows transit passengers, who wish to enter Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah in addition to traveling inside the Kingdom, as well as all leisure, Business and tourism events.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified that applications for transit visas can be submitted through the electronic platforms of Saudi Arabian Airlines and Flynas.
This will automatically be passed to the Unified National Visa Platform at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to process and issue the digital visa immediately and send it to the beneficiary via e-mail.
The ministry confirms that the digital Transit Visa service will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by strengthening the Kingdom’s position and benefiting from its distinguished strategic location connecting various continents, and attractive station for transit passengers as well as a global tourist destination.
Senegal Accession to Hague Apostille Convention
Senegal will become the 124th member to accede to the Convention abolishing the requirements of legalization for Foreign Public documents, commonly referred to as the “Apostille Convention” or the “Hague Convention”. The Apostille Convention facilitates the use of public documents abroad by replacing the often long and costly legalization process with the issuance of a simple Apostille Certificate to be accepted in the 123 member countries. In the near future, to certify Senegalese documents, it will be enough to stamp them with an apostille instead of going through the complicated procedure of consular legalization. In addition, the Senegalese authorities will begin to accept on their territory, without additional authentication procedures, foreign documents previously apostilled by the states that issued them. According to media reports, one of the factors that forced the Senegalese authorities to speed up the decision on the question of accession to the Convention was the presence of a large diaspora of representatives of the local population abroad. According to various estimates, there are currently between 550,000 and 2.5 million Senegalese citizens abroad who are constantly struggling to legalize documents. Senegal will formally ratify the Apostille Convention on March 23, 2023. From that point forward, contracting parties are required to recognize apostilles issued by designated competent body and forgo the need for legalization for public papers issued by Senegalese authorities. Apostilles issued by the competent authorities of other contracting parties must also be accepted by Senegalese authorities for incoming overseas public papers. Individuals should anticipate that short delays may arise in Senegal with obtaining such documents and with the acceptance of apostille-ed documents at Senegalese consular posts in other Hague member countries throughout the implementation of new apostille processes in conformity with the treaty.
Pakistan Accession to Hague Apostille Convention
Pakistan will become the 123rd member to accede to the Convention abolishing the requirements of legalization for Foreign Public documents, commonly referred to as the “Apostille Convention” or the “Hague Convention”. The Apostille Convention facilitates the use of public documents abroad by replacing the often long and costly legalization process with the issuance of a simple Apostille Certificate to be accepted in the 122 member countries. This one-step process reduces time and cost by avoiding additional certification or legalization at an embassy or consulate of the foreign/destination country. Apostilled documents are commonly needed for business, immigration or legal transactions being conducted in a member jurisdiction to the Convention. Pakistan will formally ratify the Apostille Convention on March 9, 2023. From that point forward, contracting parties are required to recognize apostilles issued by designated competent body and forgo the need for legalization for public papers issued by Pakistani authorities. Apostilles issued by the competent authorities of other contracting parties must also be accepted by Pakistani authorities for incoming overseas public papers. Individuals should anticipate that short delays may arise in Pakistan with obtaining such documents and with the acceptance of apostille-ed documents at Pakistani consular posts in other Hague member countries throughout the implementation of new apostille processes in conformity with the treaty.
Grace period for changing unlimited job contracts extended
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization has announced that the deadline for correcting the current conditions granted to employers, especially regarding the transfer of work contracts concluded and signed between workers and employers, will be extended from indefinite-term employment contracts to fixed-term employment contracts until December 31, 2023.
90-day visit visas available only in specific circumstances
Currently, nation-wide, Visit visas for the general public are only available for 30 and 60 days. However, 90-day visas can still be issued under certain conditions. One of that is the medical tourism visa or a job exploration visa available for those wishing to stay for 90 days. Granted to those classified in the first, second, or third skill level as per the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre).
Increase in costs of UAE visas & Emirates ID
There has been an increase in the cost of issuing Emirates ID and visas in the UAE. Its prices have increased by Dh100, according to a customer service representative at the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security (ICP).
PCR Tests are no longer required for EID Biometrics
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs & Port Security no longer requires a negative PCR test to allow entry into their facilities for biometric enrollment.
Complete residency transactions via video calls
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has announced that residents of Dubai can now use video conferencing to inquire about missing papers and finish visa applications. On Wednesday, the project's pilot phase began.
Visitors with expired visa can get outpass to exit country
Visitors overstaying in the UAE must pay fines for the number of extra days after visa expiry and need to obtain an out pass or leave permit by paying up to Dh300 at the airports or the immigration office at the land borders.
Involuntary Loss of Employment Scheme
The mandatory scheme, which was recently announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation can now be subcribed via various channels such as the smart application ILOE, kiosk machines, Al Ansari exchange and bank ATMs. Workers in free zones are not currently covered by the unemployment insurance (ILOE) Investors or owners of establishments, domestic workers, temporary contract workers, juveniles under 18 years, and retirees are considered as exempted categories for the scheme. All eligible employees have a grace period until 30 June 2023 to subscribe in the ILOE. Also please note that if the employee was employed at a date later than 1st January, 2023, will have a grace period of 4 months to subscribe, starting from the day he landed in the UAE or the day of status change.
For more information, employees can visit - https://www.iloe.ae/
No visit visa extensions from within the country
According to the most recent information from the immigration departments in UAE, visitors would no longer be able to switch from one visit visa to another. Those with a visiting visa but wanting to continue staying in the country must exit the UAE and then reenter on a new visit visa. Visitors have the option of extending their visas for one month at a cost.
Saudi Arabia Accession to Hague Apostille Convention
Saudi Arabia officially became the 122nd member to accede to the Convention Abolishing the Requirements of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, commonly referred to as the “Apostille Convention”. The new procedure shortens processing timelines and avoids challenging legalization processes at consulates, streamlining recruitment and immigration processing for Saudi Arabian employers and foreign citizens. Additionally, it simplifies the immigration procedures for citizens of Saudi Arabia in the other 121 Hague members. However, when the new procedure is introduced at all consulates, people can anticipate brief delays. The recognition and acceptance of apostilles in Saudi Arabia is for all of the practical challenges that the participants in cross-border transactions involving Saudi Arabia sometimes face. For example, if a document is notarized in, and comes to Saudi Arabia from, a country that is not a signatory state to the Apostille Convention (for example, Canada and the People's Republic of China are two of the bigger gaps in the list of signatory states as it currently stands), it will still be necessary to use the older legalization system. Also, the changeover from legalization to apostilles does not remove the requirement in Saudi Arabia to have documents that are executed in a language other than Arabic translated into Arabic by a court-licensed translator, in order to be admissible in the Saudi Arabian court system. Regardless, the recognition and acceptance of apostilles in Saudi Arabia is a very welcome step forward as the country increasingly aligns its legal procedures with international practices. In so doing, Saudi Arabia becomes ever more accessible for cross-border transactions. We have not yet heard back from many locations to confirm whether they switched from consular legalization to apostille. The conventional method of attesting documents from Saudi Embassy will be replaced by an Apostille sticker if the origin is also part of the Apostille convention eg: UK to Saudi Arabia, Russia to Saudi Arabia, India to Saudi Arabia. However, there is no change if the origin is not part of Apostille convention eg: Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon to Saudi Arabia. We are keeping an eye on the modifications and will soon provide further details and instructions.
Medical fitness test required for Mission visa applications in ICA
As per the latest update from ICA an additional requirement for an complete Medical Fitness Test Certificate is mandatory in order to proceed and issue the mission visa entry permit.
Embassy of Saudi in Lebanon does not legalize educational documents for visa applicants from outside Lebanon
UAE Consulate in Toronto, Canada ceased operations and documents from all provinces are legalized by the Embassy in Ottawa
UAE Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic does not do super legalization and directs everyone to the embassy located in Vienna
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