As of April 29, a large number of expats residing in one of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will need to apply for online visas before traveling to the United Arab Emirates.
GCC expats from countries eligible for visa-on-arrival will not be affected by the change. These countries include most of Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and South Korea. Expats from other countries working in one of 201 approved professions may also be eligible to take a visa upon arrival, however individuals in this category are advised to check with their airline before flying.
While the UAE introduced its e-visa system last May, it continued allowing GCC expats to also apply for the visa upon arrival at the airport. After April 29, this will no longer be possible and expats trying to enter the UAE without the e-visa will be sent back to their country of residence.
When the e-visa system was first introduced, Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, said the new system was intended to reduce wait times upon arrival for individuals applying for visas.
Now, all affected expats will be required to apply for the visa a minimum of four days before traveling. While applying for a visa online is relatively simple, the change creates an added hassle and will make it difficult for many expats to plan last minute trips to the UAE.