In a not very surprising move, the United Arab Emirates’s government has decided to stop issuing new visas for those interested in visiting the UAE with effect from March 17, 2020, onwards. The only exception to this would be diplomatic passport holders.
The statement issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship of the UAE reads,
The move comes as part of the precautionary measures taken by the UAE in response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, a development which reflects the high risks now associated with travel under the current circumstances.
The decision does not apply to those who already have their visas issued before the aforementioned date.
The new measures also apply to Visa on Arrivals, which will be suspended through this period as well. As per FAQs on the Dubai Airport website,
Effective March 17, UAE authorities have temporarily suspended the issuance of all entry visas. This does not apply to those passengers holding diplomatic passports or those who have had visas issued prior to March 17.
It also does not apply to passengers who hold passports from the following countries. These passengers can continue to travel to and from the UAE although may be subject to additional screening.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy (from Rome only), Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Vatican, United Kingdom and The United States of America.
The ICA noted that the additional precautionary decision would be valid until a mechanism for medical examination has been established in the countries of departure as part of other global measures taken for the common good of all nations of the world to curb the proliferation of the novel virus.
UAE is India’s largest air travel market, given Indian passenger’s dependence on Emirates and Etihad to fly to other locations around the world. Over 11 million passengers flew between India and UAE in 2019. There are 500 weekly flights between Indian airports and Dubai alone. I imagine the Visa on Arrival for Indian customers however will be affected, given they are not in this list notified above.
From India, Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara and Air India Express operate flights to the UAE. From the UAE, Etihad, Emirates, FlyDubai and Air Arabia operate flights to India. IndiGo has stated that it will cancel some of its flights to Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi from March 17 onwards till the restrictions are lifted.
Are any of your plans affected due to the UAE suspension of visa issuance?