Residence visa seekers in the United Arab Emirates will be fingerprinted beginning next month to ensure they have no criminal record, a senior official said on Thursday.
"Applicants for residence visa will be fingerprinted under a tighter biometric system to provide more secure identification and prevent fraud," major general Nasser Al Awadi Al Minhali, acting director-general of the Federal Naturalisation and Residency Department, told the Gulf News.
He said fresh applicants for residence visas will get their fingerprints taken before the medical check-up to ensure they have no criminal record.
"Those found to be with criminal records will be denied visa and handed over to the police for further legal action."
Al Minhali said a number of residents who had their fingerprints taken for obtaining identification cards were found to have a criminal record and prompted authorities to introduce this measure to prevent people with a criminal record from obtaining a visa.
Residents living in the country will be fingerprinted when they apply for renewal of their visa, he added.
"The move will eventually cover all residents in the country, including workers sponsored by their employers, investors, domestic workers and parents of residents," he said.
The UAE's National Identity Authority examines whether an applicant has a criminal record or not, but the database that will be set up at the Naturalisation and Residency Departments across the country will act as a source of information to ensure only those with certificate of 'good conduct' or 'lack of a criminal record' will be granted residence visa.
"We will manage a fingerprint identification system and database for all residents in the country and lead the way in the development, assessment and implementation of new techniques for operational fingerprinting," Al Minhali told the newspaper.
Categories covered under the scheme will be employment visa or permit issued by the residency department to a foreign national who wishes to work for a company in the UAE upon the approval of the ministry of labour.
It allows the holder to enter the UAE once for a period of 30 days and is valid for two months from the date of issue.
When the employee has entered the country on the basis of the employment visa, the sponsoring company will arrange to complete the formalities of stamping his residence. A residence visa is required for those who intend to enter the UAE to live with a person who is already a resident. It is issued to the immediate kin of a resident for three years.