What is the change? The United Arab Emirates is considering an electronic system for residency permits that would replace the stickers that are currently placed in applicants’ passports and instead store the information on the electronic chip on the Emirates ID card.

What does the change mean? The change would significantly speed the application process and issuance of residence permits.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. An implementation date has not been announced.
  • Visas/permits affected: Residence permits.
  • Who is affected: Applicants for UAE residence permits.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants would save time as they would not need to appear in person to have their passports stamped.
  • Business impact: Residence permit processing would be unified and significantly eased for expatriate workers.

Background: The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs proposed an electronic residence permit system earlier in August. To prepare for the change, the government has issued a decree to form a centralized authority, the Federal Authority of Identity and Naturalisation, to unify the functions of ID documents and foreign residency under one agency.

BAL Analysis: The move to electronic processing is consistent with efforts to reduce paper submissions and streamline immigration-related processing. It brings the UAE in line with other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, that use ID cards in lieu of visa stamps.

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


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