The COVID-19 pandemic era has revealed the resilience of many political and economic systems, as well as the true indispensability of technology. Most notably, the pandemic has raised theories about a post-Coronavirus future given the suspension of travel during the nearly global lockdown. In the GCC region, governments have proven efficient and immediate responses.
In the UAE:
The United Arab Emirates has taken different initiatives on the corporate immigration front, informing its residents with a series of regulations during the pandemic quarantine period. Residencies expired or cancelled during the Month of March are made valid till December 2020, and visa holders will be allowed to reside until that date with no fines. Tourist and visit visas are waived until December 2020 and no overstay fines will be imposed. Diplomatic passport holders are the only individuals exempt from entry visa suspensions, and for the residents of the Emirates with valid residencies were informed to register on the Twajudi service on the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Kuwait has invested multiple efforts in mitigating the damage of the crisis. On the travel and visa fronts, the Kuwaiti government has announced that all entry visas have been temporarily suspended until further notice, with diplomatic passport holders being an exception. As of April 11, Kuwait International Airport is reopened only to operate outbound flights, and until April 23, all non emergency government offices are closed. Foreign nationals who did not have a residence permit were instructed to depart from Kuwait within the month of April to avoid being fined. As for residents, they can renew their permits on a new online platform. They may also extend their temporary residence visas online for 3 months. If a foreign national’s tourist visa or residency expires between March 1st and May 30, it will automatically be extended until the 31st of May.
GCC states are also planning a post-COVID-19 world; the UAE is considering the launch of a system where residents can keep the visa with the previous sponsor and work with another entity, and since visas are now valid till end of year, residents have opportunities to seek new jobs without visa-related legal circumstances. As for Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior has launched online services for citizens and residents which allows transfer of residency, family residence renewal. However, this service is valid for those whose residencies expired as of early March.