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Mar 18 20, 12:38 pm

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Stay legal: Filipinos urged to update visa status in UAE

by | Feature, TOP STORIES

Mar. 18, 20 | 12:38 pm

As a single mother, Dubai-based OFW ‘Mariaflor’ missed majority of ‘Anna’s’ teenage life as she continued working in the UAE to provide a better life for ‘Anna’, so she figured bringing her to the country this February was the best time for them to bond.

The UAE’s recent announcement of the visa suspension as one of the measures of the government to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country alerted Mariaflor as she initially intended to enjoy a quick vacation at Oman in time for her daughter’s visa expiry to renew it. Now, she’s left thinking what her next step would be.

“Hindi ko alam kung sign ba yun na pauwiin ko na lang yung anak ko o kung makakahanap pa ako ng ibang paraan kasi parang ang bilis dumaan ng araw na nakasama ko siya dito,” said Mariaflor.

Seeking clarifications

Mariaflor was among the thousands of Filipinos who phoned in several travel agencies that were equally stunned by the numbers of people calling them for similar inquiries.

Pinoy Tourism & Travels Sales Manager Rudini Bayona said that many Filipinos that day did another kind of what she termed as ‘panic buying’ – this time, for visa processing. “We found out about the news on visa suspension last March 14, Saturday and that day we catered to a huge bulk of calls and inquiries as if there was a panic buying for visa changes,” recalled Bayona.

Finding alternatives

Majority, if not all travel agencies, usually offer Airport-to-Airport (A to A) or Border-to-Border (B to B) services at a more affordable cost just to extend the validity of the visa. However, with the announcement of the restrictions on border crossing in Oman, both facilities have been unavailable for many tourists, including Filipinos.

This is why many Filipinos and visitors from other countries have been advised to either opt for a visa extension or a visa change status while inside the country. The catch? Both options are considerably pricier compared to the A-to-A and B-to-B options.

The silver lining is that both options help these visitors to not only get to stay within the country legally, they also get to practice social distancing as they need not visit airports nor do long drives at the borders any longer.

Bayona furthered that both options of either visa extension or visa change status while within the country allow their clients to avoid a more serious offense: Overstaying.

“We are doing the visa extension an visa change inside the country so less hassle for them, this also allows them to do social distancing sing they no longer need to go to the airport as well,” said Bayona.

Monitor and Comply

Philippine Consul General in Dubai Paul Raymond Cortes advised Filipinos to consult the immigration officers about their available options pertinent to the validity of their visas in the UAE so as to minimize the risk of overstaying or violating UAE immigration laws.

The Philippine Embassy in the UAE, meanwhile, has advised Filipinos to constantly monitor updates regarding travel to and from the Philippines, as well as comply with the country’s immigration laws and ensure that they renew their visas before expiry to stay legal.

In an interview with The Filipino Times, the Embassy urged Filipinos in the UAE to consult with relevant authorities regarding the renewal of visas—such as the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

However, for Filipinos who want to be repatriated, the Embassy will still provide assistance and that the process is still the same, but it could be affected by the travel restrictions imposed by both the UAE and Philippine authorities, as well as the availability of commercial flights.

“As these official pronouncements depend on rapidly changing developments, all Filipinos in the UAE are advised to constantly monitor official pronouncements regarding travel as well as notification from airlines,” said the Embassy.

The Embassy also encouraged Filipinos to heed the advice and “comply with the respective measures put in place by the Philippine Government and the UAE Government to protect people from the further spread of COVID19,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has lifted the ban on international flights flying in and out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport—with all travelers now allowed to fly out of the country at any time, except for Filipino tourists. They will, however, be subject to strict immigration and quarantine protocols.

Overstaying penalties

In October 2019, the UAE has updated the list of offenses that punish erring individuals with fines instead of having them undergo court hearings, among them is overstaying.

The UAE government’s official portal states that after an initial grace period of 10 days upon visa expiry, tourist and visit visa holders who overstay beyond the aforementioned period will be fined with Dh200 for the first day of overstay, Dh100 for each consecutive day and Dh100 as service fees.

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Observatory experts say Shawwal crescent moon might not show today

Observatory experts say Shawwal crescent moon might not show today

Saudi Arabia astronomers have confirmed that the Shawwal crescent moon will not show on May 22 (Ramadan 29), Saudi Gazette reported. Experts at the observatory of Majmaah University in Saudi said that the moon will set before the sun today and will not be...

Pakistan plane crashes with 107 on board

Pakistan plane crashes with 107 on board

An aircraft from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members crashed at a residential area in Karachi on Friday, May 22. Pakistan immediately mobilized paramilitary troops and civil administration authorities to aid and rescue...

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

FOLLOW US

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