Due to COVID-19, many countries imposed travel restrictions with international and domestic flights being put on a halt. Although domestic flights were resumed after a while, international flights aren’t yet fully operational. The restrictions imposed on travel led to many residents being stuck outside the country. A lot of people are in a panicking state as they have to pay hotel bills in the place they are currently at and also to manage a property for rent back home in the UAE. To facilitate their return to the UAE, the authorities have come up with an initiative that aims to bring back 200,000 of them.

Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship (ICA) & Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation are at the helm of coordinating this initiative. Here’s what you have to do if you are stuck outside the UAE due to the global pandemic:
The first step is to fill out the “Residents Outside the UAE – Entry Permission” form that is available on the ICA website. It is advised against booking any tickets in this stage. Since it is not clear when you are going to get granted an entry permit and how long the process can take, getting a ticket may not prove to be a viable idea. The right thing to do here is to wait till your application is approved and you get an approval id and then buy a ticket.

The form available at ICA website requires a valid Emirates ID, passport and other important details such as birthday, mobile number, nationality, etc. Other than that, you will also be required to upload necessary documents including your UAE residence visa copy and a colored photograph. Along with that, you will also have to upload your passport in digital form.
Lastly, the ICA also needs to know your reason why you left the UAE. Hence, you will have to upload a document containing proof for the same. For example, it can be a letter authorized by your work, medical or educational organisation, depending on your purpose of visit. If the purpose was tourism, you can upload your flight tickets. Make sure each file is compressed and doesn’t exceed the 2MB size. Moreover, the website only allows files to be uploaded in .pdf, .jpeg and .jpg format. When filling the application, you will receive a draft number. In some cases, the application process may get stuck, you can restart your application using the draft number you have.

Once you have filled out the form, review it thoroughly and make sure it doesn’t have any mistakes or you have not entered wrong information in-deliberately. It can halt your process and you may be left stranded outside the UAE for an even longer period. Submit the application after reviewing it. Check your email for the tracking number you have received for this application. This number can help you to know about the status of your application.

The next step is to do nothing but wait for your application approval. As Etihad Airlines & Emirates are operating limited flights that too one way, it can take some time for your application to be approved. However, you can get in touch with ICA on +971600522222 if you are facing any difficulty or you have a concern that needs urgent attention. After you have received an approval number, you can book a ticket to the UAE & board your flight home on the day of the departure. Remember the fact that the process to register at ICA doesn’t require any fee to be submitted. So, you can fill out the form, submit it, and fly home, without having to pay any additional charges.

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