Returning UAE residents offer tips and tell others not to give up hope

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Residents who successfully uploaded their details into a new online portal, allowing them to return to the UAE, are encouraging others not to give up hope.

This week, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship did away with an application process that required residents stuck abroad to wait for approval before flying back to the Emirates.

Under the new system, residents should update their personal details, including their nationality, passport number and Emirates ID, on a dedicated ICA portal. Once the data is successfully submitted, they must be tested for Covid-19 at an accredited lab. When the negative result is released, the resident has 96 hours to travel to the Emirates.

The ICA said the data step was optional but residents due to return in the coming days are strongly recommending that people do this because many who do not have been unable to book flights.

I cleared my cache and browsing history, which was suggested by someone on social media, and got approved instantly

Mohamed Shan

Initially, some residents reported issues when trying to enter their data. They received a message which said the authority would "consider the possibility of rescheduling your travel date after 60 days".

However, after several attempts, Mohamed Shan, 32, said his upload was successful.

“When the official news was published on Wednesday, I tried three times to enter my details on to the portal,” he said.

“It did not work so I cleared my cache and browsing history, which was suggested by someone on social media, and got approved instantly.”

Mr Shan, who works in hospitality, left the UAE for Sri Lanka on March 13 to visit his wife and family. He was planning to return to the Emirates on April 13 but was unable to fly back due to the border closures.

He said he tried four times to get approval to re-enter the country since April, but was rejected each time.

Mohamed Shan has been in Sri Lanka since March but will be flying back to the UAE soon after successfully updating his personal details on the new site. Courtesy: Mohamed Shan

Abu Dhabi resident Jema Howie also received several rejection messages on Wednesday, after she attempted to upload her details on to the new ICA link.

“I tried the new procedure and it just wouldn’t work,” Ms Howie, from Scotland, said.

“I tried to update my information on my laptop, phone app and tablet, everything, but it didn’t go through."

Ms Howie is currently in the UAE but has to travel for a medical procedure. Residents seeking to leave the country were previously told to apply for ICA approval to be allowed back into the Emirates.

"I was planning to go on a small trip for four days for medical treatment on August 16 to 21 but I just had major anxiety about getting stuck overseas because approval was needed to return,” she said.

She said if her information was uploaded successfully, she would consider travelling as planned.

And on Thursday morning, after several attempts, her application was finally accepted.

Like Mr Shan and Ms Howie, EB, a 26-year-old resident who has been in the Philippines since March 8, failed to update her data on the ICA website several times on Wednesday.

But on Thursday morning, after more than five attempts, she said she received the green light.

“I got a message this morning saying ‘you fulfil the requirements to enter the country, and you can proceed with the completion of your travel procedures, wishing you continued health and wellness.”

The new system applies to all emirates but , which has its own immigration service and has had various exemptions related to travel and testing.

Dubai visa holders are required to apply for permission from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs before they book their flights back.

Travellers to Dubai must under go a PCR nasal swab test in their home country and show their negative test to check-in staff and when they land in Dubai.

Updated: August 13, 2020 06:43 PM

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