What if a Travel ban or Deportation from the UAE is imposed?

22 Apr 2022

One of the well-known novelists and poets, Charlotte Bronte, quoted

 “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” 

Indeed, we all are fascinated with the concept of enjoying a freedom that allows us to speak or do things after our own will; no one likes to feel chained or be bound. The constitution of many countries in line with various international treaties on human rights strives to provide a reasonable amount of freedom to the people. However, the bubble bursts on knowing that the society cannot run effectively on this concept for the very reason that there are situations where the jurisdictions of various countries will have no choice but to impose some kind of travel ban or even deport people from their countries. If people are allowed to enjoy complete freedom at all times, then securing justice would be next to impossible, as it makes it easy for people involved in unlawful activities to escape.


Travel Ban process in the UAE

Article 29 of the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stipulates that UAE residents shall be entitled to freedom of movement within or outside the country and also the freedom to reside in the country, within the horizons of the existing laws of the country. To be precise, any person can be restricted to move within or outside the country or be confined to stay in a specific area for a period of time only if it is implemented by the competent authorities in line with the existing laws. A travel ban is an order imposed by the competent authorities restricting an individual from entering or leaving the country, for the purpose of protecting the interests of the people and the country in matters related to debt failure, criminal investigation, child custody, the threat to the public safety or any other such reason as specified in the existing laws of the country, until such matters are resolved or cease to exist. The travel ban issued by the country restricts the individual to exit or enter the country by any means of transport. In the UAE, there is no dedicated legislation governing matters related to the travel ban. However, we can extract provisions imposing travel bans and the ground on which such travel bans can be imposed from various other federal laws of the country. 

Federal Law Number 6 of 1972 on Immigration (the Immigration Law), as amended by Ministerial Decree Number 83 of 2002, sets forth a list of grounds on which an expatriate can be restricted to enter or leave the country. As per Article 94 of the Ministerial Decree:

  • Persons who are restricted from entering the country are:
    • Any person against whom a criminal complaint has been lodged;
    • Any person who has been extradited by the competent authority;
    • A person who has been barred by or has a travel ban imposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries;
    • Any person involved in any activity as reported by the Interpol;
    • Any person who is suffering from a disease that can be hazardous to public health.
  • Persons banned from entering the country are blacklisted and such names can be cancelled from the blacklist in the following manner
    • The names of the persons who have been blacklisted by a decision of the competent court may be removed subject to the procedures and rules as specified in Articles 102, 103 and 104 of the Ministerial Resolution Number 360 of 1997. The names of the individuals blacklisted by the decision of the Ministers of Interior or by his legal representative in line with Article 23 of the Federal Law Number 6 of 1997 on the Entry and Residence of Foreigners, can be cancelled by the same minister who listed the names. The names of persons listed by the order issued by the Department of the International Criminal Cooperation can be lifted off from the list, in the same manner, the names were listed.
  • Persons who are restricted from leaving the country:
    • Any person on whom a travel ban has been imposed by any public prosecutor as a consequence of an ongoing investigation;
    • Any person who is been banned by the criminal or civil court;
    • Any person on whom a ban is issued by the Ministers on failure to pay the debts owed to the UAE government.

The ban issued by the public prosecutor can be lifted by a written order by the public prosecutor or on receiving a written order of the same by the authority which issued such ban. Where the individuals are banned or blacklisted by a competent court, it can be removed from such a list or the order of the travel ban can be cancelled by a written order by the same court. The names of the persons who is been restricted from leaving the country and blacklisted for the non-payment of the debts owed to the government can be removed from the blacklist or cancel the travel ban, by a written order from the Minister of Interior or his representative, along with the reasons justifying the case. However, this list is not an exhaustive one as there are other grounds on which a person can be imposed with a travel ban, as mentioned in the other federal laws of the country. It is pertinent to know the difference between a labour ban and a travel ban, as many individuals could get perplexed in interpreting a labour ban correctly. A labour ban is a restriction imposed on an individual whereby a person is prohibited from obtaining a work permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) for a specific time limit, as per the provisions of the Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 on Labour Law, but, by no means it restricts that individual from entering or exiting the country. 


The person can visit the country on a different visa and also can apply for jobs at the free zone companies or public sectors, which do not require the MOHRE work permits. In UAE, some of the widely known grounds on which a travel ban can be imposed are in circumstances as stated below:

  • Non-compliance with the Immigration Laws: 

As per the immigration law, an individual can be imposed with a ban on immigration or also called a travel ban for the following reasons as given below:

  • If any person is found to be employed without any legal work permit;
  • Any person entering the country unlawfully;
  • If a person is found to overstay on the visa period;
  • Any person who is found entering the country illegally;
  • Quitting the job without giving proper information to the employer or leaving the country without duly cancelling the employer’s sponsorship. The bans are imposed automatically by the competent jurisdiction and could also be extended for a lifetime.
  • Non-payments of debts:

In cases involving the debt recovery, the creditor may only request for a travel ban on the debtor, pursuant to receiving an order of execution of judgment by the competent court to ensure that the judgment is executed without any obstruction. Article 4 (4) of the Personal Loan Agreements stipulates that an individual can be held liable in case of non-payment of the money borrowed, for three consecutive installments or six non-consecutive installments of the monthly installments without any prior approval from the bank. Pursuant to this Article, the lender or any financial entity may lodge a criminal complaint against the defaulter, provided that the security cheques or bonds which were taken by the lender from the person borrowing as a guarantee on the loans or credit cards sanctioned to him, to deposit for the purpose of collecting such unpaid funds, has turned out to be a bounced or dishonored cheque due to the insufficiency of funds or any other reasons. Article 401 of the Federal Law Number of 3 of 1987 on the Penal Code states the person can be detained or imposed with a fine on bounced or dishonored cheque, especially where the amount is UAE Dirhams two hundred thousand (AED 200,000) or more. In these cases, the financial institution upon the completion of filing a criminal case against the defaulter may also obtain from the competent authority an order of travel ban against such defaulter. 

  • On a request by parents or guardians: 

As per the provisions of the Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 on Personal Status (the Personal Law). As per Article 149 of the Personal Law, a foster or a custodian is prohibited to travel with the fostered child outside the state without the written approval by the guardian or tutor. Likewise, the tutor or the guardian is not allowed to travel without the written authorization of the fosterer. Article 157 of the Personal Law provides that the tutor or the guardian may keep the passport of the fostered child, except in cases, where it is required to be handed over to the woman fosterer. Where the guardian disagrees to give permission to the foster to travel with the child outside the country, he may request the court to issue a travel ban in the interest of the child. Accordingly, on hearing both the parties, the court may issue an order. A travel ban can be requested by either of the parties in the personal interest of the child.

  • Ban imposed in case of Criminal Offenses: 

A travel ban is issued by default on any individual against whom criminal or civil charges have been filed or is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation or court procedure. The competent authority ensures the execution of such travel bans by issuing the notice of the court specifying the order of travel ban to all the state portals. However, the person on whom such a travel ban has been imposed and has to travel for due reasons may request the court to sanction for bail. The travel ban will only be lifted when the case is closed and a final judgment has been executed by the court. Many people often get confused between an arrest warrant and a travel ban, and sometimes even assume that a travel ban could also indicate an arrest warrant. However, that is not the case for an arrest warrant may involve a travel ban, whereas, a travel ban may not always need an arrest warrant. 

  • In UAE, an arrest warrant may be issued in the following circumstances:
    • If any individual is undergoing a criminal investigation or is an accused of any criminal offence as per the Articles 45 to 46 of the Federal Law Number 35 of 1992 on the Criminal Procedural Law;
    • Any debtor who is trying to evade or abstain from the execution of the final judgment as per Articles 324 to 328 of the Civil Code.

In the above-mentioned scenarios, an arrest warrant is issued to detain the person who is accused of any criminal offence or for the purpose of execution of a civil judgment so as to ensure that the court proceedings are being conducted without being abused or obstructed. A travel ban is automatically imposed on a person who is accused of committing a criminal offence. However, an arrest warrant is not issued on an order imposing a travel ban, unless such a ban has been issued on the grounds of committing a crime.


Reasons for Deportation from UAE

The safety of the country and protecting the public policies and moral beliefs of the country is always the topmost priority of the government. Accordingly, the government is vested with an authority to issue an order against any non-national resident, imposing any kind of serious threat to the welfare or, the safety of the country or, is found to non-comply with the immigration rules or, has been accused of a severe criminal offence, to leave that country immediately. However, the laws on deportation are generally not applicable to the nationals of the country. In UAE, there are two kinds of deportation orders issued by different authorities:

  • Judicial Deportation or Legal Deportation: Article 121 of the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 on the Penal Code, as amended by Federal Law Number 35 of 2005, which is again amended by the Federal Law Number of 7 of 2016, stipulates that any foreigner, against whom a judgement issuing a custodial punishment, has been passed for a felony or any other crimes which involve sexual assault, shall be deported from the state. The court may also issue an order for any foreigner or expatriate to be expelled from the country for any other severe criminal offences as it may deem necessary, as an alternative for the punishment of imprisonment.
  • Administrative Deportation: In cases involving the public interest, security, health and morals, the Federal Identity and Citizenship Authority has been conferred with an authority issue of deportation against such foreigner or expatriate, irrespective of such expatriates holding a valid residency visa. By the virtue of Article 4 of the Federal Decree-Law Number 3 of 2017, the Federal Identity and Citizenship Authority (FICA), has been giving all the power and jurisdictions with respect to nationality, passports and foreigner’s entry and residency and to execute decisions against them in line with the laws governing them. As per Federal Law Number 6 of 1973 on Entry and Residency of Foreigners, the persons who are authorized to issue the order of deportation are:
    • The federal public prosecutor or his legal representative;
    • Chairman of FICA or his legal representative.

The deportation order can be issued against foreigners who lack a noticeable means of living. The order of deportation shall also be applicable to family members who are dependent on such a person against whom the order of deportation has been issued for their living. The person against whom an order of deportation has been imposed may apply for a sanction of a grace period by submitting bail, in order to resolve or settle any matters of interest in the country. The grace period shall not exceed more than a period of three months.


Lifting up the order of Deportation

Article 28 of the Federal Law Number of 6 of 1973 on the Entry and Residence of Foreigners states that any expatriate against whom an order of deportation has been decreed is not allowed to enter the country back, except by obtaining special permission from the director of the FICA. The application should provide all the necessary information as to the reasons for deportation, details of previous residency permits and the consequences followed after the order of deportation, along with reason justifying the re-entry, which should be supported with relevant evidence. The application has to be submitted to the department of naturalization and residency administration, which is authorized to receive applications regarding entry permits and visas. An expatriate may apply for the cancellation of the order of deportation, by stating the reasons and documents supporting his reasons, to the public prosecution, which is then sent to a special committee to make such decisions.

Blacklisted: The names of the persons on whom a travel ban has been imposed for reasons like committing a crime, evading their civil duties or liabilities or jeopardizing the safety and security of the public. The names which are blacklisted can only be removed or cancelled by the competent authorities who issued such orders.

Administrative List: This list contains names of individuals who have been banned from entering the country because of the cancellation of their residency visas and the names of persons who have been found to abscond from their sponsors. This list includes the following persons:

  • Maids or persons who cancelled their resident visas before the termination of their labour contract;
  • Individuals who have escaped from their sponsors and has been reported to the police for the same;
  • Persons against whom administrative deportation has been imposed.

However, the Department of Entry and Residence Permits may cancel names from the administrative list after one year from when they left or were deported from the country, for the following categories:

  • Domestic workers or maids who have been listed for cancelling their resident visa before the end of their labour contract;
  • Any person who has been deported as per Article 29 of Foreigner Entry and Residency Law; and
  • Individuals who were banned from entering the country in line with the fines reduction regulations as mentioned in the Ministerial Resolution Number 360 of 1997.

The government of any country is solely responsible for the safety and well-being of the people. It can take every step to make sure that the lives of the people are not endangered or the welfare of the country is not destroyed. Travel ban and deportation are the means through which the government ensures that any expatriate who imposes any kind of threat to the public health and security or obstructs the delivery of justice or fails to abide by the laws governing his/her stay in the country are rightly dealt with.