Abu Dhabi confirmed on Monday that expatriates seeking a renewal of their residence visa must submit an attested tenancy contract with a valid utility bill, saying those sharing an accommodation would be rejected.
An official at the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi said the new rules issued last week apply to all expatriate families and bachelors, excluding those applying for a renewal of a visit visa.
“The tenancy contract is mandatory to apply any transactions at the Directorate and should be by the name of the sponsor,” the official told Emirates 24/7.
“But you also can submit your attested and registered tenancy contract under your name,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said the new rules have already been enforced and that the last utility bill—water or electricity—must be submitted with the rent contract.Asked about expatriate families and individuals who share accommodation with others, he said they need to check with their sponsor before they apply.
“You need to check with your sponsor since he is the responsible person to renew your visa….there is no term regarding sharing accommodation in these regulations….you just need to have a tenancy contract by your name or by your sponsor’s name and should be attested,” he said.
More than six million expatriates live in the UAE, the second largest Arab economy with the second highest GDP per capita in the region after Qatar. Around 1.5 million foreigners reside in Abu Dhabi emirate, the largest member of the UAE and the country’s main oil producer. It was still unclear whether those rules have been fully enforced in other emirates.
Thousands of expatriates live in apartments or houses on a sharing basis in the UAE given their relatively low wages and high rents in some emirates.
Experts believe the new rules will create turmoil in the living conditions of those expatriates as authorities have not mentioned any exceptions or exemptions.
“I was caught off guard by these rules because I live in an apartment with 12 friends….the tenancy contract is in the name of one of them…we don’t know what to do when it is time to have our visas renewed,” said Yehya Hariri, a mobile phone shop worker in Abu Dhabi.
“My visa will expire next month and I have already told our company’s representative at the immigration department,” said Zakaria Ahmed, another expatriate in Abu Dhabi. “I don’t know what will happen as I share a flat with many others because my sponsor pays me accommodation allowance.”