I’ve been in and out of the United Arab Emirates several times this year. Visa renewals have been challenging for me. I’ve renewed my tourist visa several times and different most times. Twice incurring huge overstay penalties. Mostly due to part negligence and part unclear rules. I would like to share 4 ways to renew a UAE visa. Hopefully, my experience can help you to avoid overstay fines and penalties.
#1 – 3 MONTH VISA
For the first of the 4 ways to renew a UAE visa, we used a company referred by a friend of Daniels. We were under the impression that the three-month visa was in process before my 30-day visa on arrival expired. Let’s just say there were all sorts of confusion. The friend who was the middle man for the company did not speak or understand English well. He thought I was still in the United States. There was confusion about me leaving the country in November 2018 when I visited Daniel for 6-days around Thanksgiving. The visa was denied. Which required us to drive 1 hour to the Dubai International Airport from Fujairah. We ended up having to pay 100 AED (approx. $30) for proof that I actually left the country.
Inquiring minds would like to know. If I never exited the country, why did I catch a one-way flight back to the UAE on December 31 with an entrance stamp in my passport?
LESSON: DON’T LET YOUR VISA EXPIRE
After the smoke cleared, I still had to exit the country and we ended up paying overstay fines of 1260 AED (approx. $370) in February. Breakdown: 1,000 AED for fine, 200 AED for exit fee, 60 AED for admin fee and credit card commission. To this day, I do not use the SMART gates. I get entrance and exit stamps in my passports.
Immigration informed me at the airport the 3-month visa was in the system wich cost 1200 AED (approx. $330).
The kicker was we left the UAE in less than a month for Ghana.
What a waste of resources and time.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE PLACES: AIRPORT LOUNGES
Before leaving Dubai for Muscat, I had access to the Marhaba airport lounge which made the visa run worthwhile. Compliments of my Platinum American Express card and it’s travel perks. Apply here. I can bring one guest in the lounge as a cardholder. I’m often generous with this credit card perk. I met an American from California and invited him to the airport lounge as my guest. He was a teacher in Oman. We ate dinner and enjoyed the lounge’s amenities. Some of you know I love the art of conversation so his company was icing on the cake.
I flew to Muscat, Oman on the night of February 18 and returned the next morning on February 19. It was not required for me to exit the airport or get an Oman visa. I stayed in the Primeclass Lounge at the Muscat International Airport. The lounge had sleeping quarters with a television, shower, wi-fi, open bar, and buffet all night. I had a nice night’s rest before returning to the UAE.
#2 – 30 DAY TOURIST VISA EXTENSION/RENEWAL
I’ve applied for a visa without leaving the country. I went to the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs located in Terminal 3 of the Dubai International Airport. I had to take a number from the ticket dispenser machine and wait in the queue. No overstay penalties this time. Thank God! I was directed to visit the typist to process my 30-day visa. The visa process took around 45 minutes. The typist told all people inquiring she would not know the total fee until she typed up the visa. I paid 892.50 AED (approx. $240) for a visa without exiting the country. Only cash was accepted and an ATM was located nearby. I should have opted for a nice mini-vacation.
#3 – VISA ON ARRIVAL
A visa on arrival is nothing new to me. I’ve done a visa on arrival three-times this year: December 31, July 31, and October 20. Before heading to India, my departure was upsetting, to say the least. Confident I complied with the visa rules then I was sent to THE DESK. (I don’t remember the name of the desk. I’m not sure if I want to remember.) Regrettably informed I incurred 1285.19 AED (approx. $370) in overstay fines. Say huh?!?!?!
Here’s where the misunderstanding lies. I thought an additional 10-day grace period applied to the new visa that I received from the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs. Well, I was wrong. My stay should not have exceeded a total of 60 days. I was shedding tears and not crocodile tears. It caught me by surprise. I was distraught. I returned to the UAE from India on October 20 with a visa on arrival for 30 days.
#4 – BORDER RUN TO OMAN
A border run to Oman is my last suggestion for 4 ways to renew a UAE visa. I used a company called Go Tours Dubai. I highly recommend this company. The process from beginning to end was simple. The service was affordable. I made an appointment for my visa run on the company’s website. I elected to pay 150 AED (approx. $40) in person. You can pay online. The company sent me a confirmation email. A few days later they informed me of the Oman Visa Law change via email to apply for an Oman visa online. I applied online and got my e-visa in a day or two which cost 5 Omani Rial/OMR (approx. $13). I was sent two reminder emails and a complimentary call the day before reminding me of my appointment at Dubai Marina Mall at 8:30 am on November 18.
A nine-passenger van arrived promptly at the main entrance of the Dubai Marina Mall. An hour into the drive, the driver made one 10 minute stop at a gas station where the driver collected our visa run fee and the UAE exit fee (35 AED/$10 USD approx.) then we headed to the UAE customs. We went to UAE immigration to check to see if anyone had fines. One person had an issue. Still, the process was complete in 15 minutes or less. We were driven to Oman customs office which was less than 10 minutes because everyone did their Oman visa electronically. We walked to the UAE customs. Our passports were stamped. We were back in the van in no time and dropped back at the main entrance of the Dubai Marina Mall. The entire process took approximately 4 hours.
The learning curve can be costly. I recommend the Oman border run via a car if you have half a day to spare. The service was professional, the process was smooth, quick, and relatively affordable. I wish we would have known about the Dubai Visa Run sooner. It would have saved us a lot of headaches and money. As the saying goes, you live and you learn. Quoting what the great Maya Angelou told Oprah Winfrey,
when you know better, you do better.