Monday, August 11, 2008

Residence visa renewal linked to tenancy contract in Sharjah

Thousands of families who live in shared accommodation in Sharjah will be hard hit by the new rule of the Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency Department requiring a tenancy contract in the applicant's name or his close relative.

According to the new regulations, those applying for residency visas for their families should produce a copy of their tenancy contract.

The contract, which is considered proof of one's eligibility to afford a family, must be attested by the Sharjah Municipality.

Residents said they will have to send their families back home as it is no longer affordable to rent a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment in Sharjah.

Many said since the rents started skyrocketing in Sharjah in the last two years by more than 30 to 50 per cent, people have opted for shared accommodation. Under the new rule they will not be able to renew their residency permits without having tenancy contracts in their names.

Lieutenant Colonel Salim Ali Mazaini, head of the visa section at the Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency Department, told Gulf News that the rule has been introduced to ensure that only those who are financially capable of providing decent accommodation can bring their families to the emirate.

"We are not insisting that the tenancy contract should be in the applicant's name. The contract can be in the name of his close relatives also, such as a brother or sister," said Mazaini.

He added that it is acceptable to share living space with one's own family members, but not with friends.

According to him, the rule is not applicable to professionals like doctors, engineers and people in managerial positions because they earn enough money to sponsor their families.

"We are being very flexible and taking each application on a case by case basis. For example, if a family does not have children, a studio flat in their name is more than enough to get a family residence permit. Or if a family with one or two children can show that they are sharing a three-bedroom apartment with a close relative, it will also get them the residency status," Mazaini said.

However, some residents said their applications have been rejected even after they produced tenancy contracts of their relatives.

Hussain, a Sharjah resident who refused to give his second name, said his application to sponsor his family was rejected because he could not produce a tenancy contract.

"Now with this new rule, I doubt whether I can bring my wife and child to the UAE," said Hussain who works as an administrative assistant.

Another resident, Riyas Mohammad from Pakistan, said he has shelved his plan to bring his family because of the new regulations.

New categories: Renewal for one year only

The Sharjah Naturalisation and Residency department has also issued a list of 60 categories of low income groups including hairdressers, butchers, shop assistants, chefs, clerks and others for whom residency permits will be renewed only for a period of one year. These categories must also get prior approval before their applications are typed.

The typing centres have been instructed that the categories listed below need prior approval before applications are typed.

Beauty therapist
Spice/pulse grinder
Watchman
Dining-room servant
Fishmonger
Fisherman
Calligrapher
Digger
Porter
Office boy
Pipe fitter
Cobbler
Sailor
Pipe filer
Grocer
Tyre repairer
Shoemaker
Manicurist
Hairdresser
Clerk
Follow-up clerk
Archive clerk
Tinker
Mechanic assistant
Ironsmith
Welder
Carpenter
Builder
Shop attendants
Light vehicle driver
Barber
Makeup artist
Janitor
Shift operator
Typist
Watchman
Chef
Turner
Plumber
Tile fitter
Meat griller
Falafel maker
Dessert maker
Pastry maker
Waiter
Machine operator
Clothes presser
Car washer
Coffee maker
Butcher
Slaughterer
Painter
Tailor
Baker
Kneader
Goldsmith
Electrician
Upholsterer
Blancher
Drawer/draftsman

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