Hundreds of people on tourist visas in the UAE are now availing of same-day visit visa status change facilities offered by several travel agents in Dubai.
“Around 600-800 people are utilising the air-to-air status change facilities in Dubai every day,” said Raheesh Babu, chief operating officer of online travel agency Musafir.com. “Currently, the service is being offered by flydubai and Salaam Air from Terminal 2 of Dubai International airport. People can choose the same-day visa status change or stay for a day in the neighbouring country and return the next day. The same-day process takes around four hours where they fly out, wait in the airport of the neighbouring country and return on a later flight.”
According to Babu, the price of these flights varies according to the package. “The rates vary between Dh1,300 and Dh1,600, depending on what kind of services people want. For example, if people choose to stay in Oman, then along with the price of a one-day hotel stay, it will come up to the higher end of that price bracket.”
In December, new rules came into effect in UAE, which discontinued the option for visit visa holders to extend their stay permits from within the country. Visit visa holders now must exit the country before they can come back on a new visa.
It was always compulsory for visit visa holders to exit the country and enter on a new visa, but the rules were changed during the Covid-19 lockdowns. During the pandemic, when travel became difficult, the UAE changed the requirements on humanitarian grounds.
According to travel agents, there is a massive demand for these services. “There are desperate passengers whose visa has expired or is nearing expiry,” said a spokesperson for Deira Travels. “Some nationals find this option cheaper than flying to their own country and returning on a new visa. So, demand is extremely high for these flights.”
Last month agents told Khaleej Times that flight bookings to neighbouring countries from the UAE had increased by more than 300% and all visa change flights were running at 90-100% capacity.
Noushad Hassan from Alhind Travel strongly advise those wanting to change their visa status to avail of the flight services. “For those opting for the bus, there are several restrictions, especially for certain nationalities,” he said. “Also, as the situation is still dynamic, some passengers have faced certain issues at the borders. So, we advise all passengers to use the A2A service.”
News source: Khaleej Times