A six-month stay outside the country does not automatically cancel residency visas in some select situations, says the Ministry of Interior.
Although a residency visa is automatically nullified if its holder stays outside the UAE for six months, some travel excursions longer than six months are exempt such as expatriates going abroad for medical treatment, foreign wives of UAE citizens staying abroad and domestic helpers who are accompanying Emiratis studying abroad or seeking medical attention, a Ministry of Interior official said.
“In most cases, if a residency visa holder stays abroad for more than six months, he or she will have to issue a new entry permit as that visa will be invalidated,” Brigadier Dr Rashid Sultan Al Khader, Deputy Chairperson of the Legal Council at the Ministry, told Gulf News.
“However, the rule doesn’t apply in some cases and the exempted categories will have a valid visa up to their expiry date,” he said. “As per Article 61, exempted individuals include foreign wives of UAE nationals, domestic workers accompanying local students who are studying or undergoing medical treatment abroad, and expatriates seeking medical treatment outside the country along with those in their company.”
However, Dr Khader said individuals must have a valid residency visa as well as a medical report attested by the Ministry of Health.
Dr Khader said other categories exempted from the six-month rule are employees and domestic helpers accompanying the employees of diplomatic and consular missions in the UAE.
“Those who are employed in the UAE public sector and are overseas for work or sent abroad on training courses are also exempted, along with their families, from the six-month rule,” Dr Khader said.
However, expatriates going abroad, male and female, for studies are not spared from the six-month rule. Before the recent amendments, there was a relaxed approach for female students returning from their studies. Some residents are now dismayed that they have to go through the entire process of issuing an entry permit for female family members studying abroad.
“My daughter is doing her masters in Spain,” Maggie B., a Lebanese real estate agent and mother of two, said. “When my eldest daughter was away for her studies, we found little to no problem in her returning to the country, even if she was away for more than six months. But now we are extremely surprised that we have to issue my younger daughter a new entry permit. It’s a hassle, to say the least. We luckily found out before she bought plane tickets as who knows how long it will take.”
A Pakistani man, who refused to be named, said he was also surprised at discovering he had to apply for a new entry permit for his daughter who is studying abroad.
“Education is demanding, sometimes it isn’t possible for students to return to the UAE within six months to ensure their visa remains valid,” he said. “There used to be a relaxed approach for female students at least. But now we have to go through the entire process of issuing an entry permit and waiting for it to clear; it’s upsetting. If domestic helpers going abroad with Emirati students can be exempt from the rule, why can’t our daughters?”