New passport application rule for Indian expats employed in Abu Dhabi to aid social distancing during COVID-19

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Abu Dhabi: In a bid to help maintain social distancing for preventing the spread of COVID-19, Indian expats employed in Abu Dhabi have been exempted from personally submitting their passport applications.

The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has announced that it has decided to accept passport applications from expats in absentia when represented by their company PROs. “This has been done to facilitate social distancing in times of #Covid19 pandemic,” the mission said in a Twitter post.

The Embassy also shared an advisory that explained the new procedures for passport application submissions to the offices of BLS International, the outsourced agency processing Indian passport and visa applications.

Exemption from physical presence

Presently, any Indian passport application is required to be submitted by the individual applicant along with requisite documents, in person, at the nearest BLS Centre, the mission pointed out.

“However, it has been brought to the notice of this Embassy that the ongoing pandemic situation has created difficulty in mobility of individuals, especially those from far-flung areas including Al Ruwais in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to visit BLS Centre in Abu Dhabi and even applicants in and around Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain may prefer an alternate safe mode of submitting application to avoid exposure to crowded places,” the mission stated.

As such, the Embassy had earlier exempted physical presence of senior citizens (above 60 years), minor children (below 12 years), pregnant women and differently abled applicants (people of determination) vide an advisory dated June 17 this year. “In addition to this, to maintain adequate social distancing and proper crowd management, it has been decided that passport applications of employees of all categories of a particular company including employer/senior management/ CEOs/ MDs etc may be submitted through the authorised/ company PRO at the nearest BLS Centre by adhering to the following procedure,” the mission said.

What are the new procedures?

The employer/company concerned should issue an official letter addressed to the Embassy, authorising the company PRO to submit duly filled and completed passport applications along with requisite documents on behalf of the employee(s).

The individual employee seeking passport services should also give a letter authorising the same PRO to submit the passport application on his/ her behalf.

Upon producing the credentials/ID document(s), the PRO can submit the passport application(s) along with relevant documents including above authorisations at the nearest BLS Centre and pay the requisite fee by cash at the counter, the mission said. “BLS may consider having a separate counter to handle receipt or delivery from or to PROs on need- basis,” it stated.

As being practised now, the individual applicant — or PRO in this case — also can exercise the option of collecting the new and old/cancelled passports in person at the BLS Centre, where the application was submitted, or through courier, the Embassy added.

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