My experience with Dubai Visa on Arrival for Indians

Last month, I made a last minute dash to Dubai for the Dubai Airshow. Shipra came along as well, as she’d never been to Dubai before and we figured we could see a bit of Dubai on the fringes of the airshow.

Anyhow, this being a last minute trip, I had no opportunity to finish the paperwork and get a visa ahead of time. So I was banking on the Visa on Arrival process that was launched for Indian travellers in May 2017 by the United Arab Emirates. In short, if you have a USA Green Card or a valid visa, you’d be admitted into UAE without a prior visa. This visa is valid for 14 days in the UAE.

However, I had no experience with this VoA process so I was jittery to start with. For almost over ten years, I’ve gone over to the UAE with a piece of paper stating I was going to be allowed in. Once at the airport, though, I could start believing this would really work.

The airline asked me for a UAE visa and I told them about my intention to get a Visa on Arrival. They looked at my USA B1/B2 visa and waived me through. Next, I met the Indian Immigration officials, who also had a look at my USA visa and let me go. Phew!

Dubai Visa on Arrival process

On arrival at Dubai Airport, there were clear markings for Indian travellers who wanted to be admitted with a Visa on Arrival. We had to first go over to a Marhaba counter before immigration, who would process the payment for the Visa on Arrival for us.

There was also a FAQs section explained in English and Arabic before you get in the queue.

UAE Visa on Arrival for US Visa Holders

UAE Visa on Arrival for US Visa Holders

Marhaba charges AED 120 per person as Visa Fees (including 20 Dirham for their service), which is roughly about INR 2000, much lesser than the fee required for prior processing which usually costs INR 6000 at least.

The queue was 4 people deep when we arrived. However, it did take them about 30 minutes before we came to the front of the queue.

Marhaba Dubai

Once there, we presented our passports to the agent on the counter, who scanned our passport and USA visa and collected the money. One can pay in cash or by card. Subsequently, she handed us receipts for the money and advised us to go over to the immigration counter.

Dubai visa on Arrival

Dubai visa on Arrival

At the counter, the only question asked was about the length of our stay in the UAE.Then, we were just made to give our pictures to the immigration cameras. I’m sure I had a bad picture because it took them a few attempts to get mine right. But once they got it done, they stamped the passport and let us in.

Dubai Immigration

Dubai Immigration

If you need to extend your visa, you can do so for another 14 days by paying AED 250, but that is the maximum you can go for.

Bottomline:

This was easy, and if you do have a USA visa on your passport, then I’d recommend you try out the Visa on Arrival process. It is cheaper, and while it does take a short while when you arrive in Dubai (could be more when you get off an Emirates A380 perhaps) it is one third the price as well.

Have you had a chance to experience the Visa on Arrival offered by UAE for Indian Citizens? What has been your experience?

Comments

  1. Ajay, I had similar experience to yours. Got a quick Dubai VoA by paying AED 200 due to having a valid US visa on my passport.

  2. I find the process in Qatar to be faster and cheaper. Just head on up to an immigration officer on arrival, present your Indian passport, get your photos and iris scan taken and you’re welcome to Qatar.

    Oh, I didn’t forget to mention how much it costs, there is simply No charge. Yup, visa cost is 0.

    I think, making passengers use marhaba is quite sneaky on the part of Dubai. For those who don’t know, Marhaba is an Emirates group company.

      • Qatar and UAE are two different countries, engaged in a silly dispute. I didn’t mean Qatar as in Qatar Airways (QR).

        My point was that the process in the country of Qatar is much easier, simpler and faster than in UAE.

      • Another additional point I want to add is the usage of Marhaba, making the passenger pay 20Dhs extra to Emirates group, whereas in AUH you can make the payment directly at the immigration counter with a Visa/Master/Amex/JCB/CUP

        • @Venkatesh I don’t know why you are taking offence to that? If someone has to go to Dubai, that is their only option to pay 120 Dirham for VoA or 5K upwards for a pre-approved Visa. If you go to Abu Dhabi and then come to Dubai to save the 20 AUH you’d spend a lot more time and money travelling as well, right? No one is skimming you, that is just the way Dubai decided to do things.

          • I never said they were skimming, I just said this is the sneaky way Dubai is making money on top of a Federal administered fee, by packaging it as a service; despite the customer not having a choice, like you aptly pointed out.

          • And, this thing only applies to those who have an US visa, a majority of visitors to Dubai, do not have this. Thereby, this is a very limited service catering to a very small percentage of Indian population that visits Dubai.

  3. In fact, better to apply for US Visa than to take a paper visa to UAE now.
    That’s what I did for my family for my upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi.
    Cost for 3 US Visa was almost the same as cost for 4 paper visa to Abu Dhabi and you save on the hassles too.
    Will also help that they now have US visa already for any future trip for us.

    • I used the US visa also to get in Singapore & Philippines and didn’t pay anything at all. These two along with Dubai visa cost has already more than paid for my US visa and this is ignoring my yearly USA trip.

  4. Hi Ajay,
    I used the VoA service at Abu Dhabi airport. It was done at immigration desk itself and the official asked me to pay 100AED in card transaction (no cash allowed, as per him). It does take time though, similar to your experience but convenient for sure.
    Cheers!

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