Non-Muslims can continue to apply for travel and business visas during the pilgrimage season
Saudi Arabia to limit commercial, work visas for Muslim residents in the UAE during Hajj
Saudi Arabia will suspend issuing commercial and working visit visas to Muslim residents in the UAE during the Hajj season, as part of efforts to regulate the activity of foreign nationals in the kingdom, immigration law firm Fragomen said yesterday.
Irrespective of nationalities, Muslim residents in the UAE with invitation letters and pre-approved commercial or working visit visas notifications from Mecca, Jeddah and Medina will be required to apply after the end of the pilgrimage season, Fragomen said.
Sponsors can issue invitation letters and pre-approval notifications to their invitees in areas outside the Western region. These restrictions do not apply to non-Muslims, who may apply for travel and business visas.
“They do take these measures not only for the UAE,” said Murtaza Khan, a partner in Fragomen UAE.
“It [suspension of granting visas] varies on how they implement the restrictions every year. Commercial and working visas are limited to certain professions anyway.”
During the annual Hajj season, Saudi authorities usually impose quotas by country to regulate travel for pilgrimage reasons. These quotas depend on the size of the population in Muslim countries. It is also customary during Hajj to ask Muslim residents in countries other than their native country to apply at home.
“With the incredible influx of pilgrims traveling to the holy city to perform Hajj rituals, KSA (kingdom of Saudi Arabia) authorities take measures each year to ensure that Muslims across the world have a fair opportunity to take part in the holy activities. This involves limiting Muslim visitors to Hajj visas during the season and ensuring that all pilgrims have gone through the correct visa application process,” said Mr Khan.
“In respect of these control measures, UAE businesses are encouraged to limit travel to the affected cities as the Kingdom focuses its efforts on ensuring a safe and comfortable Hajj season.”