What is the change? The UAE will grant one-year residency to nationals of countries affected by war or other disasters, regardless of their current status in the UAE. Additionally, widows and divorcees will be eligible for one-year extensions of their visas after divorce or death of their husband without needing a sponsor.

What does the change mean? Nationals affected by conflict or natural disasters must apply between Aug. 1 and Oct 31. The program for widows and divorcees will be introduced in the last quarter of 2018.

  • Implementation time frame: Aug. 1 – Oct 31.
  • Visas/permits affected: One-year residency.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals currently in the UAE whose home country is affected by war or natural disaster, and women who are in the UAE as dependent spouses.
  • Next steps: Details on how to apply are forthcoming.

Background: The UAE Cabinet announced the decisions Monday and Tuesday. The programs are intended as a humanitarian gesture toward tens of thousands of foreign nationals who are living in the emirates and unable to return home due to conflict or natural disasters and to give women time to make plans for themselves and their children after divorce from or death of the head of household. Under current rules, women sponsored by their husbands must depart the UAE if they divorce, and, in the event of the death of their husband, they must leave when their dependent visa expires.

BAL Analysis: The humanitarian program will allow potentially tens of thousands of foreign nationals to gain temporary residency, and will also exempt them from overstay fines. The residency extension for spousal dependents will enable widows and divorcees to maintain their residency for an additional year and stabilize their plans.

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

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