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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?