New ‘zero overstay policy’ includes fines on sponsors

12 Feb 15



What is the change? The United Arab Emirates is implementing a new “zero overstay policy” in an effort to crack down on visitors who overstay their visas.

What does the change mean? The new regulations call for fines on anyone who overstays their visa – even by an hour. They will be fined 200 Emirati dirham (about US$54) at the airport per day for a maximum of five days. If they stay beyond five days, they will be required to obtain an exit pass from immigration and pay the penalty at that time. An additional government immigration charge of AED 1,020 (about US$280) per day will be imposed on the sponsoring company, which must pay the fine within 24 hours. A company that fails to pay a fine could be barred from sponsoring future travelers to the UAE.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate, but not yet fully implemented.
  • Visas/permits affected: Business visit and tourist visas.
  • Who is affected: Any traveler to the UAE on a short-stay business or tourist visa.
  • Business impact: Companies sponsoring individuals to enter the UAE should be aware of the new policy in order to avoid unnecessary fines.
  • Next steps: Business travelers heading to the UAE should make sure that they are applying for the appropriate visa before entering the country. While 30-day visas are commonly used, there are also 90-day options for tourist and business visas.

Background: The UAE government has revamped its visa schemes in recent months to ensure that foreign nationals fully comply with the country’s entry and exit policies. The UAE is taking a zero-tolerance stance toward visa overstays. A business visitor who needs to stay longer must exit, but they may reapply immediately.

In a related change, tourist visas can no longer be extended in-country. Those who do not exit after the permitted duration (30 days or 90 days) are subject to the new overstay fines. Like business visitors, they may reapply immediately without having to observe a 30-day exit period.

BAL Analysis: The steep penalties and no grace period indicate that UAE is stepping up enforcement of those who overstay their visas. All UAE-based companies sponsoring foreign employees and assignees should make sure foreign nationals leave before expiration of their visas and that any fines are promptly paid.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the United Arab Emirates. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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