UAE: Practice of Putting Family Visas on Hold Ended

Immigration practice in the United Arab Emirates stipulates that migrant workers who switch employers in the UAE have to cancel their initial visas and apply for new ones, unless they are eligible for a visa transfer within free zones. Not only are migrant workers, who are switching employment, required to cancel their own residence visas, but also the visas of family members under their sponsorship, be it spouses or children. It is only after cancellation is arranged that foreigners may apply for the visas sponsored by the new company.

Currently family members of migrant workers can have their visas put “on hold” by submitting a request with relevant documents, and cash deposit, to the UAE Immigration Department. Once the principal applicant”s new visa is issued, the principal applicant would need to re-activate the family residence visas by submitting the new visa copy. The family would not have to cancel their visas.

However, immigration authorities in the UAE have announced that they will cease the process of placing family residence visas “on hold” whilst the principal visa holders application is in process, with immediate effect. Family members of migrant workers making an application to switch employment must now request the cancellation of their visa, and will have a limited period of 30 days from the time of the cancellation to leave the UAE or obtain a new residence visa.

This change will not affect family members of principal visa holders who change employers within free zones authorities. Family members who stay in the UAE more than 30 days after the visas are cancelled maybe liable for overstay. Family members may also be advised to leave the country if there is a significant delay in securing a visa.

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