7 October 2022
New Regulations on Residential Visa Validity in Free Zones
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security (ICP) has notified a new Residency Visa (RV) rule on 3 October 2022 in regard to its validity period impacting all the Free Zone entities in Dubai.

The new RV rule is applicable for the following types of requests:

New Employment Visa Request (inside/outside the country)
With immediate effect, the RV issued from any Free Zone authority in Dubai will have a validity of one year or two years only. The RV with a duration of three years is no longer available for Free Zone employees and their dependents. Therefore, the new RV will only be processed for the ongoing application with a validity up to two years.

Visa Renewal
This new rule is only applicable for new RV requests while any issued RV with a validity of three years will continue to have the three year validity until renewal. After renewal, the RV will have a validity up to two years.

Ongoing Visa Application
In cases where the ongoing RV application has reached the final stage of e-sticker processing, and the Emirates ID application has been approved for three years, the new rules will apply and the RV will be issued for up to two years by the ICP.

Most Free Zones are not amending their fee structure for the reduced validity of Visas and will continue to keep the same fees.

It is also important to note that the fine amount has been increased by the ICP in cases of late renewal of Visas or change of status (if the applicant is on a cancelled UAE Visa). The fine amount varies based on the applicant’s current Visa status and duration of overstay.
Our Comments
The Visa validity period for a Free Zone entity would be valid for two years instead of three years. After the two year validity period, the Visa needs to be renewed for the same duration. Free Zone registered companies need to take note of increased costs and changes in compliance deadlines for each new Visa.

While the authority is continuing to ease out compliances, this step taken by the authorities may increase the efforts and the costs of conducting business in Free Zones.
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