When Hammoud Heratta, a Syrian businessman, began applying for a UAE residence visa for his wife, he expected it would not take long. But the paperwork quickly piled up. Documents had to be generated, signed, authenticated and shuttled between many different offices. "It took us some time; we had to go to many places and submit a lot of papers," said Mr Heratta, 29. Employment visas or permits are currently issued by the Department of Immigration for foreign nationals new to the UAE with the backing of sponsoring companies.
But spouses and children of prospective employees go through a different procedure, often without the help of a company. Marriage and birth certificates must be authenticated by several agencies, then officially translated if needed. Mr Heratta and his wife, Huda Melhem, 24, had to get her passport stamped by both the UAE Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before they could even make an official request for her residency.
Then Mrs Melhem also needed to visit a local hospital for HIV and tuberculosis tests. Only then were they able to submit her application to the Department of Immigration. For one 44-year-old Arab businessman named Mark, it also took several trips to different venues over three months to obtain UAE national ID cards for himself and his family. Although he filed all the applications on the same day, they were not processed as a batch, meaning he had to return several times.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "It's difficult to figure out what to do, how to do it, and it's costly." Consolidating the application process would make the experience easier to handle, Mr Heratta said. "It would be a simpler experience. As the system stands, it's a waste of time," he said. "Even if the applications would become more costly, it's still a better option." firstname.lastname@example.org