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Updated 7 September 2021

On 18 November, UAE banned the issue of work visas to Pakistanis, along with the nationals of a few other countries. This ban has attracted much attention, especially in Pakistan, due to its sudden implementation.

Read on to find out more about the UAE’s visa ban on Pakistan. 

The background on Pakistan work visa ban 

According to an immigration circular that came into effect on 18 November, UAE stopped issuing work visas to the citizens of 13 countries. This included Pakistan. The restrictions were initially attributed to control COVID-19 although many now believe that the move was based on security considerations. 

Pakistanis are the second largest group of foreign residents living in the UAE. The work visa ban has left a vital source of employment and income severed for several Pakistani nationals who depend on the UAE. 

As new aspirants from Pakistan cannot get work visas for UAE, and many have already returned home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Pakistani expatriates in UAE is poised to fall.

When will the ban be lifted?

Although the visa ban is expected to last for only a short period, the Emirati authorities haven’t clarified yet when exactly it will be lifted.

UAE Foreign Minister issued a statement following the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the UAE in December 2020. In it, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan assured the Pakistani community that the ban is temporary due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 2021, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, who was on a visit to UAE, in his meeting with the Emirati Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence, Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al Nahyan, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh again raised the issue of visa restrictions on Pakistanis. Still, it is not exactly clear when the ban will be lifted.