UAE wants easier US visa regulations and be added to visit visa waiver program

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is pushing for the US to ease B-1/B-2 visit visa requirements for United Arab Emirates nationals to make it easier for them to visit the US. Hamad Buamim, director-general of Dubai Chamber, stated that such a move would allow the two countries to become better trading partners.

"Though many things have developed well, we still have room to develop even further," said Buamim. "By positively addressing such issues, we will be able to take the US-UAE business ties to the next level. It is about time the US recognises the UAE as part of the visa waiver programme which will give UAE citizens preferential treatment like many other "friendly" nations.

Currently, US citizens are granted visas on arrival in the UAE, but UAE nationals must apply for a US tourist B-1/B-2 visit visa prior to travelling to the US. Buamim noted that Dubai Chamber members' exports and re-exports to the US had increased by 9.2 percent in 2011 to $164 million. The US ranked as Dubai's third largest trade partner in the first five months of 2011. There are also 1,025 American ownership and partnership companies operating in the emirate, Buamim noted.

Buamim's request follows US Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr's push for easier US visit visa regulations for Polish nationals. The congressman is hoping that there will be a policy change to allow Polish nationals to be added to US Immigration's Visit Visa Waiver Program.

The US waiver program allows people to travel to the US up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa at an US Embassy or Consulate. There are 36 countries currently part of the visa waiver program including Australia, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, and France.

Citizens of countries under the visa waiver program are also required to apply for the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. You will need to submit the ESTA if:
  • You are a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • You are currently not in possession of a visitor's visa.
  • Your travel is for 90 days or less.
  • You plan to travel to the US for business or pleasure.

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