What is the change? The Dubai International Financial Centre has introduced an online application system for residency visas, renewals, work permits and visit visa applications.

What does the change mean? DIFC is the last free zone to introduce an online application system. Other free zones and the Ministry of Labor already require electronic filing of residency visas, renewals, work permits or visit visas.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residency visas, renewals, work permits and visit visa applications.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for any of the permits or visas listed above.
  • Impact on processing times: The move to electronic processing may cause initial delays, but is eventually expected to speed up and simplify the application process in DIFC, other free zones and throughout Dubai.
  • Business impact: On the whole, the change makes the application process easier for businesses sponsoring foreign nationals on visas to visit, reside or work in Dubai.

Background: Dubai moved to an online application system last year, and the independently governed free zones eventually introduced online application systems as well. DIFC recently became the last free zone to launch an online portal, making online applications for residency visas, renewals, work permits and visit visas the only option throughout Dubai.

Individuals applying for visas for dependents still have the option of submitting applications manually. And while the application process has moved online, visa and permit issuance remains manual. Dubai’s free zones temporarily experimented with electronic visa issuance last year, but abandoned the effort after running into problems coordinating with the Dubai airport.

BAL Analysis: Electronic application processes generally make it easier to submit applications and supporting documentation.

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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