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Navigating through the application process for an approval to return to the UAE

Date Posted: Thu, 18 Jun, 2020

Navigating through the application process for an approval to return to the UAE

By Haider Hussain, Partner at Fragomen FZ LLC, Dubai

The suspension of flights by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the closure of borders in March, resulted in a number of foreign national residents being stranded outside of the UAE. While this meant some would be separated from families for weeks, it also meant others would have to work remotely for their employers. All these factors combined have negatively impacted the businesses not only in the UAE or in the region, but all around the world.

The UAE government nevertheless understood the need to establish a process for citizens and foreign national residents to return to the UAE, especially in cases of emergency. The online platform called “Twajudi” was introduced to remedy this issue and facilitate the registration of individuals abroad. The launch of the platform gave hope to many UAE-based companies that the return of foreign workforce would be easily arranged thus allowing for the quick resumption of activities.

While the current application process is quite straightforward and accessible through the electronic portal of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC), it constantly changes and requirements are added or removed from the list. Since the launch of the portal many applications have been rejected and individuals had to re-submit their request, realizing that the preference is given to those in emergency situations.

As a professional firm focused entirely on immigration, Fragomen understands that the devil is always in the detail when it comes to the application process. The following is a brief list of best practices and considerations for everyone applying for the approval to return:

* The application process is relatively straightforward and available to everyone through the ICA’s website, regardless of their current location: (Click here
* The online questionnaire is available in English and in Arabic, and requires that the applicant uploads copies of their passport and the UAE residence permit. It’s important to have the Emirates Identity Card handy, as it’s number must be provided during the application process.
* While the number of active applications currently exceeds 200,000, it is important that a strong justification for return to the UAE is given. This can be done by submitting a support letter drafted by the employer (preferably in Arabic), outlining the individual’s responsibilities and importance to the business.
* It is also important to ensure that the applicant specifies a reason why they had to travel out of the country. If the specific reason is not available in the dropdown list, the applicant is encouraged to select “other” and elaborate more about their circumstances; this, preferably should be done in Arabic.
* Lastly, the documents that are uploaded along with the application should be clear enough, so that the authorities do not return the request for modification which may further delay the process.
* In some situations, the applicant may have to provide additional documents, including a return ticket, a university letter, a medical certificate or a latest COVID-19 test.

While the submission process appears to be quick and easy, the approval may not come within weeks from lodging the application, or the applicant will have to re-submit the questionnaire. We understand that this may be overwhelming, and following an increased interest from our clients, Fragomen has decided to form a dedicated team to assist with obtaining the approval for return. Since the formation of the taskforce, we have managed to secure re-entry permits for multiple applicants, which is a result of constant follow ups with the relevant authorities in the UAE and abroad; this includes foreign embassies, various government departments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as national carriers. Should you have any questions regarding the process, or require assistance with the submission of your applications, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.