UAE – Expatriates, social workers and business owners have praised the new 30-minute residence visa application facility, Salem, saying it is a great step towards progress.

Following Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, launching the first of its kind ‘Salem Intelligent Center’ in Dubai on Thursday, expats have called the new system ‘a blessing’.

The centre will significantly reduce the processing time for medical examination from registration to issuance of residency visa to 30 minutes from 28 hours.

Hafeed OP, a businessman who runs a chain of restaurants in the UAE, said: “For upcoming businesses like mine, which are labour intensive, this is surely a blessing.” Hafeed’s company employs a total of 12 people. “When we apply for a new visa or renew an existing one, there is a one-week waiting period for the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation approvals, after waiting two to three days for medical fitness test results,” he said.

During this time, the new employee cannot be put under employment as hefty fines will be levied on the company. “Mostly, our staff would wait in their accommodation camps till approvals came along and we cannot hire anyone else to fill the gap. So, our work suffers,” said Hafeed.

However, with the new facility, businesses like Hafeed’s can process paperwork of his employees within one or two days after they land from their home country. “In under an hour, we can put the new employee to training and work. It is a huge blessing. It also removes anxiety from the minds of the employee as well,” he said.

Vimal Roy, a resident of Qusais, also praised the new service and said that prior to this, he had faced substantial difficulty in getting his medical tests done at the testing centre in Sonapur. “A few years ago, we had to wait for hours to get the blood tests done at Sonapur. We have surely come a long way and this is a great new step towards progress.”

He also suggested that better seating facilities be installed at the medical centre during busier days, as there is hardly any place to sit down at the centre.

Karen Lobo, a PR professional, said: “I am forever impressed at how rapidly technology is improving in the UAE. I don’t think I would’ve ever thought that a medical test result and UAE residency visa would ever be done in 30 minutes.”
She added: “The ‘Salem’ project will definitely be a great advantage to us as it’s much more time-effective and would really help in case of urgencies for UAE residence visas or medical test requirements.”

Naseer Vatanapally, an Indian social worker, said: “Now, businesses cannot keep their prospective staff waiting under the pretext of getting ‘visa approvals’. Sometimes employees, especially construction workers, end up waiting for weeks before their paperwork is completed. This will cut that waiting period.”

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