Monday, October 24, 2005

Dubai imposes visit visa curbs on six countries

Nation Immigration & Visas Published:
24/10/2005, 08:36 (UAE)
Gulf News.Com

By Sunita Menon and Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporters Dubai:

Authorities in Dubai have stopped issuing visit visas for people from Bangladesh, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Niger, Iraq and Nigeria, a Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department official said yesterday.

The official, who did not wish to be named, said that family visas for people from the six nations would be issued only after the approval of the director general or the deputy director of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD).

The official did not know when the visa issue would be resumed. Senior DNRD officials were not available for comment.

A senior Bangladesh official at the Bangladesh Embassy in Abu Dhabi however confirmed that issuance of visit visas for Bangladeshis has been stopped due to illegal visa trade by unscrupulous agents.

Representatives of the five other countries were not available for comment.

Officials at the Bangladeshi embassy as well as the consulate said that they had received enquiries made by Bangladeshis about the stopping of visas.

"The reason behind suspending the issuing of visit visas for Bangladeshis is due to the illegal visa trade," said Mirza Shamsuzzaman, the Bangladesh ambassador.

He said during the past year a growing number of Bangladeshis had been conned by dishonest agents into buying visit visas for a large fee.

"Many have fallen victim to the visa trade and it has caught media attention in Bangladesh. Some people have also approached me for assistance to get their money back from the agents," said Shamsuzzaman.

"The agents sell the visit visa for 200,000 taka (Dh11,182) to people who are looking for employment overseas. The victims are often illiterate Bangladeshis from villages," Shamsuzzaman added.

He said the matter had been discussed with the UAE foreign ministry, which had assured him that the temporary suspension of issuing visit visa should not be taken as discrimination against the community.
"There are about 400,000 Bangladeshis in the UAE and there is a high demand for Bangladeshi manpower," said Shamsuzzaman.

Kamrul Ahsan, the Bangladesh consul general, told Gulf News that he too had received complaints from Bangladeshis about not being able to bring their relatives to the UAE on a visit visa.

A few Bangladeshis who spoke to Gulf News said they were disappointed when informed by the enquiry desk at the DNRD that they will not be able to apply for a visa.

A Bangladeshi resident said: "Initially I called the DNRD customer service for information on the working hours. I was informed by them that visit as well as family visas for Bangladeshis have been temporarily stopped."

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