It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a simplified and effective immigration system for the UAE. The advent of E-Channel immigration has revolutionised the process of moving to, living in and working in the United Arab Emirates.
While Dubai and Abu Dhabi use a separate immigration system, anyone wishing to set up in other regions can now do so completely online.
Let’s review this integrative system and how it’s set to improve the immigration process for everyone entering the UAE.
The UAE Population is Rapidly Expanding
The rising number of expatriate workers moving to the United Arab Emirates has caused a rapid expansion of the country’s population.
In fact, the population has grown strongly, from one million people in 1980 to 9.5 million today. Such is the influx of foreign workers in recent years, that today approximately 90% of the UAE’s population is non-Emirati, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
The UAE economy has also benefited from a healthy increase in overseas travellers visiting the UAE on tourist visas. Dubai alone attracted 14.3 million visitors in 2015, making it the fourth most visited city in the world, behind only London, Paris and Bangkok. This is up five million since 2010 when 9.3 million overseas arrivals came to the city.
In an effort to deal with this seemingly constant inflow of people from around the world, the UAE has improved its immigration policies and procedures. Over the last few years, the increase in demand for different Visas and Emirates ID processing meant the old paper-based systems needed an upgrade.
The emergence of the E-Channel services portal simplifies things well. Both businesses and individuals entering the country can use this system, cutting down on admin and paperwork.
What is the E-Channel Immigration System?
The e-channel immigration system was launched as part of the UAE 2021 vision under the slogan ‘Smart Services with Future Vision’.
The Director-General of the Residence and Foreigners Affairs, Colonel Mansour Ahmed Al Dhaheri, praised this new system. It was the ministry’s mission to “guarantee the delivery of the best services and achieve the UAE Vision 2021”.
The E-Channel Immigration System is a new, unified immigration system that has been implemented in six out of the seven Emirates. Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to use their own independent immigration systems for the time being.
The new system, known in Arabic as the ‘Tahaluf’ system, eliminates the need for hard-copy documents. This streamlined portal also ensures that all applications are processed more efficiently with improved integration across the Emirates.
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has developed an easy way to check visa status and other important immigration documents. The ICA smart services site under the FAIC provides a positive user experience for entrepreneurs, companies and individuals alike.
User-Friendly Platform for UAE Businesses & Individuals
One of the best things about this integrated smart service is that now both businesses and individuals can use it. Using the e-channels, checking your emirates ID and visa status is now quick and easy.
The Federal Authority for Identity government website is easy to use. Provided you have your passport number along with your passport expiry date, you can easily check your visa validity via the ICA smart services portal.
You can readily apply for visas, residence permits, a trade license and entry permits. Helpfully, the single online portal makes things easy, instead of visiting a typing centre or immigration office.
Once registered on the E-Channel portal, individuals and businesses can apply for their visas, or entry permits (residence, visit and tourist) – and for those of employees or relatives. From submitting payments to printing applicable documents at home, this system streamlines every step.
How Much Does the E-Channel Service Cost?
Registration fees vary depending on the Emirate your business is in. Individual free zones have specific pricing and rules regarding the e-channel system. For this reason, it’s best to consult your account manager directly before applying so you know what the fees will cost for you.
Broadly, registration costs are in the region of AED 7,500 with a refundable deposit component of approximately AED 5,000. The annual cost of registration renewal is around AED 1,000.
How to Register Using the Online Portal
E-channel registration is thankfully fairly straightforward. The online E-Channel immigration portal has a user-friendly design with easy instructions to follow.
Free zone incorporated entities use the free zone business’ details to log in. In this case, you must register to the E-Channel portal via your agent and/or with any free zone authorised typing centres.
Otherwise, to get started, visit the E-Channel website and select either individual or establishment services.
Next, click on the ‘Registration’ button then input your email address. After this, you’ll receive an email verification. From here, follow the instructions on how to set up your account.
Finally, once you have received confirmation from the Ministry of Interior (MOI), select ‘Complete Registration’ to continue creating your profile. Once set up on the E-Channel immigration system portal, you can start using online services right away.
Benefits of the E-Channel Online Service
The biggest benefit of the new E-Channel immigration system is its efficiency. The Ministry Of Interior has praised this new online system. The MOI describe it as ‘…a pioneering step to ensure speedy process and accuracy in the visa and residency services.’ It’s easy to see how this will indeed be the case.
A single portal now manages licence applications, visas, amendments, upgrades, renewals, and most other associated activities. The MOI is naturally confident that this will result in faster, more efficient processing.
As well as freeing up your time, the E-Channel system is also designed to lower your administrative burden – removing the need to visit immigration centres to fill out excessive paperwork. Simply scan and upload any required documents to the portal. These include items like passport copies or ID cards.
By the end of 2018, the E-Channel system should reduce in-person visits to government centres by up to 80%. With departments less overwhelmed with applications, this can only result in a much-improved service for all.
Organise Your E-Channel Registration With Help From Virtuzone
Setting up your own business has never been easier. Fortunately, Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. If you want to know more about e-channel registration using the ICA smart services website, contact Virtuzone today.