What is the change? The General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi has launched an “E-Channels” online application option for visas and visa renewals.

What does the change mean? Those applying in-country for visas and visa renewals will now be able to initiate applications via the E-Channels website or at authorized typing centers. Most applicants will be able to complete the visa process without having to visit a GDRFA office, and will only have to make a visit to pick up their visa stamp. Application requirements have not changed, but the switch to an online process may mean that authorities will more strictly enforce documentation requirements.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa applications, including renewals, lodged in Abu Dhabi.
  • Who is affected: Anyone applying for visas or visa renewals in Abu Dhabi.
  • Impact on processing times: The change should eventually improve end-to-end processing times, but delays are possible as the new system is implemented.
  • Next steps: Applicants are urged to apply for visas via the E-Channels portal or by visiting authorized typing centers. A list of typing centers that are participating in the E-Channels program is available on this website.

Background: Abu Dhabi’s online option for visit visas and residence visas is designed to make for an easier application process. However, it is also likely to make it all the more important that applicants submit proper documentation. This includes fully attested documents, e.g., marriage and birth certificates, if required; legal translations of any documents that are in a language other than Arabic; and high-resolution, digital photos with a white background. All documents should be submitted online when applications are initiated. It is difficult, if not impossible, to change documents once an application has been initiated.

BAL Analysis: Abu Dhabi’s E-Channels system should make the process of applying for visit visas and residence visas easier for most applicants. It is important to have all of the necessary documents prepared at the time of the application. Those with case-specific questions should contact BAL.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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