Ethiopian expats worry over digital passport delays

picDubai: Hundreds of Ethiopian expats in UAE are furious over the long delays they are facing in getting their passports renewed.

They said that it is taking up to more than nine months — instead of the usual 45 days — for applications to renew passports, which cost Dh1,000 to be processed.

Only digital (machine readable) passports are now allowed, while the manual passports are no longer in use.

Many expatriates are frustrated both by the lack of communication throughout the process and also the length of time the processing is taking.

Ethiopian expatriates are becoming increasingly worried that they will be unable to meet their deadline for legalising their status because of delays in getting their new passports from Addis Ababa.

 Without a valid passport and visa, residents of the UAE can be denied all sorts of services — for example registering children for the new school year; registering a car; buying or renting a home; opening a bank account or getting a credit card; applying for a loan; and applying for any government service.

Furthermore, those waiting for passports for new babies face a fine of Dh100 a day if they don’t apply for the baby’s residence visa (which is stamped in the new passport) within 120 days of the birth. Some expat parents have already been waiting for several months.

B.S., an Ethiopian woman, said that she lost two jobs due to the delay in getting her passport.

Another Ethiopian expat said that she applied for her passport three times and now seven months have passed and she still has not received her passport. She added that no extension is given for the expired passport.

Ethiopian Consul-General to the UAE, Yibeltal Aemero Alemu, told Gulf News, “Ethiopian passports from all over the world are being issued at immigration in Addis Ababa in a secured manner to protect forgery.” He said that due to security procedures, it takes from four to six weeks to complete the procedure.

He said the government understands what a delay in getting passport means to its nationals. He said that they are making all possible efforts to shorten the process and resolve this issue.

The consulate also tries to alleviate the problem by issuing letters to relevant UAE institutions about the status of the passport of the applicants. “The other problem we are facing is usually people come at the last minute or even the after the expiry of their passports,” he said, and advised people to apply for renewal well before the expiry of their travel document.

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