Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Extending my Visit Visa

It's hard to believe it's been almost a month since we arrived in Abu Dhabi, but it has, which means I needed to get my visitor visa extended. All visitors from the US are issued 30-day visitor visas upon arrival in UAE. Once that expires, you need to get it extended or get a new entry stamp by leaving the country and coming back again (called a border run). And it's really not a good idea to let your visa expire as there are heavy fines and they do check. The closest border run for us is about a 6-hour round trip journey to Oman. There are even websites detailing the exact process to cross to Oman, get a fresh entry visa and back again (yep, a lot of people need to do it). I had to extend because I don't yet have my resident visa (more on that below) and I really didn't want to make the trip to Oman. (Actually, we definitely plan to take a trip to Oman as there is supposed to be some decent scuba diving there, but the plan is for a long weekend, not a quick round trip to simply cross the border and back.) So, I set out to figure out if there was a way to extend the visitor visa without leaving the country.

I did some web research (seriously, what did we do before Al Gore invented the internet? ;) and found a link to the Immigration Dept and gave them a call. Luckily, I was directed to someone who spoke decent English and got the scoop. Some money, your passport and a photo was required, so I set off this morning with another Epic person (Jeremy who also needed an extension) to get this accomplished. (NOTE: Brian already has his resident visa, which is why he wasn't involved in this adventure.)

We found the place with only a little trouble finding parking. Man, if you think downtown Madison parking is awful, quit your whining - it's REALLY bad here (I've got to take some photos of some of the parking jobs I run across!) Anyway, we found the Immigration Authority, took our number and waited ... less than 5 minutes!! WOW, we were already impressed. The guy at the desk looked something up, gave us a small sheet of paper with some arabic numbers on it and sent us to the typing center to "make an application".

Side Note: Typing centers are everywhere and are used for all kinds of things: translating your passport into Arabic; completing an application for an Emirates ID card, making an application for a Visa extension and many more.

We went to the typing center, paid our fee and they created the application for us. This is where the photo came in. As I've mentioned before, all your applications and docs are accompanied by a color photo. We were then sent back to the first guy to finish the process. Another few minutes and we had our visa extension added to our passports - we're now legal until March 15th! And all in about 30 minutes. I'm always so irrationally proud when I accomplish something like this. ;)

Resident Visa: We're working on the resident visa for me and it's a long process with lots of paperwork. First off, my visa is sponsored by Brian, who is sponsored by Epic Middle East. It's possible that I could be sponsored by a company, should I get a job in the next couple of weeks, but that seems pretty unlikely. Instead, I'll be here on a spouse visa that will be sponsored by Brian. To do this, we need an attested copy of our marriage certificate and I also need an attested copy of my college degree or transcript if I plan to work in UAE. We're in the process of getting that paperwork completed now and it's taking FOREVER! Then, I'll have to make a trip to Dubai for a physical exam and some blood tests and then I think I can apply somewhere for the actual resident visa. I'll be sure to keep you posted on this adventure!


  1. Great advice, can you tell me where you went exactly to get the extension? Department Name, some kind of address?

  2. I really need to go to dubai for at least 2 month time and with a visit visa. They told me the visit visa is only for one month time. Now none of the friends I know are in the know of how to extend it to 2 months, this is why I'm here now trying al gore s invention as well :).

    So you're telling us it's doable right? And easily so? ... Can you tell us whom u called or what number?

    Thanks lots

  3. Since my experience is a few years old now, you'll need to try and find more recent info. My understanding is that the visit visa is only for 30 days - you cannot in advance get one for 2 months. But you can extend your original visa as it gets close to expiring. One way is to leave the company and come back in. The other might be to visit the immigration office and pay a fee to have it extended. Again, this information is old so do some research to make sure this is still possible. Hope that helps!