x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Call for US to ease visa rules for Emiratis

UAE requests to join countries such as UK on the visa waiver programme - enabling citizens to visit the US for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visit visa.

DUBAI// Visa requirements for Emiratis to enter the United States should be eased, business leaders have urged.

Making the UAE part of the US visa waiver programme would encourage already strong business ties, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"Though many things have developed well, we still have room to develop even further," said Hamad Buamim, the organisation's director general.

"By positively addressing such issues, we will be able to take the US-UAE business ties to the next level," Mr Buamim said on a visit to Seattle.

Under the US waiver programme, citizens of 36 countries - including Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, and France - can visit the US for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa.

Instead, visitors register before travelling using the online Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, an automated system that determines their eligibility under the waiver programme.

US citizens are given visas on arrival in the UAE, but Emiratis wishing to visit the US must first apply to the American embassy for a B-1/B-2 visa for business, leisure or medical treatment.

"It is about time the US recognised the UAE as part of the visa waiver programme, which will give UAE citizens preferential treatment like many other friendly nations," Mr Buamim said.

Dubai Chamber members' exports and re-exports to the US increased by 9.2 per cent in 2011 to US$164 million (Dh602.4m), he said.

The US was also Dubai's third-largest trading partner in the first five months of 2011, with 1,025 American ownership and partnership companies in the emirate.