Special Visa Extensions Due to COVID-19
On June 11th, 2020, Oman’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Mehrazi announced that tourist visas would be extended until March 2021 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Tourists with visas issued between March 1st and August 31st, 2020 would be eligible for the exceptional visa extension.
This means that tourists who have not been able to make use of their visas as a result of border closures will have the opportunity to do so in the coming year. It’s also an added incentive to apply for an Oman visa once borders reopen.
Eligible travelers can take advantage of a visa validity period of up to one year, instead of the regular 30 days from the date of issue.
Oman tourism is on the rise: over 3 million international tourists entered the country in 2018. While the Gulf area is expecting to see a 54% growth in Chinese arrivals by 2030, Oman is opening itself up to all foreign tourism by granting electronic visas to visitors from over 100 countries worldwide.
An electronic visa (or eVisa) is a travel authorization that speeds up the process of obtaining a visa for Oman. Applicants are able to apply online in minutes and only minimum supporting documentation (like the copy of a valid passport) is required.
Although the eVisa is the quickest and fastest way to get permission to enter Oman for tourism and the government, there are several types of visas available for the country. Applicants can choose the right type of visa depending on their nationality, the intended length of stay in the country, and the purpose of their travels.
Some visas allow for extensions and renewals, others cannot be renewed and only grant a single entry into Oman.
This article is intended to help foreigners navigate the Omani visa system and includes information regarding visa extensions and validity.
What Visas for Oman Can Be Extended?
Some tourists may find themselves wishing to renew or extend their visa. It’s not surprising — plans can change and Oman is a varied country with much to offer, including:
Fortunately, it’s possible to extend a variety of visas for Oman.
Can You Extend an eVisa?</h3>
There are different types of eVisas, the most popular one being the 10-day visa (26A), which allows for a single entry into the country. The 36B, on the other hand, can be used to cross the Omani border once and is valid for a maximum of 30 days.
There is a third type of eVisa (subcategory 36B) that allows for multiple entries within a period of validity of one year. Each visit to Oman on a 36B visa cannot exceed 30 days.
The following is a breakdown of eVisa extensions:
- eVisas 26A can be extended once. The new validity period can be up to 10 days.
- eVisas 26B can be extended once. The new validity period can be up to 30 days.
- Multiple-entry eVisas (36B) cannot be extended.
It’s important to remember that the first eVisa period of validity starts the moment the foreign citizen holding the visa goes through customs for the first time. Once the Omani immigration officer approves the tourist’s entry, the visa is officially active.
From the moment the eVisa application is approved and the applicant receives their visa via email, they have one month to enter Oman and start their validity period.
How to obtain an eVisa extension
Tourists wishing to prolong the validity of their visa will need to visit the Royal Oman Police (ROP) information counter at Muscat International Airport.
The opening hours of the police visa information desk are from Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 am to 2 pm.
Applicants will have to pay an application fee in cash.
Can GCC Residents Extend Their Visa?
According to Article 10 of Decree No 63/96, certain “foreigners residing in the GCC states who wish to visit the Sultanate for the purpose of tourism” can visit the Sultanate of Oman for up to 4 weeks without a sponsor.
Residents of the GCC nations can extend their tourist visa for up to one week on the condition that they have entered Oman within one month from the date of issue of their visa.
What Happens If I Don’t Extend My Visa?
Overstaying one’s visa is never the wisest option. The Omani authorities expect foreign visitors to respect the terms and conditions of their visa and leave before the permit’s expiration date.
Failing to do so means breaking the immigration law and visa policy of the country and may result in serious consequences, including a fine. Overstaying a visa could also affect one’s chances of obtaining a new Omani travel authorization in the future.
If you wish to stay longer in Oman, there may be several ways to do so legally depending on your specific circumstances:
- Extend your visa (if applicable)
- Apply for another visa while still in the country
- Leave Oman and re-apply for the same visa from abroad.
Why Should You Apply for an Electronic Visa?
Eligible travelers can easily see why the eVisa is the fastest and most convenient visa option available for Oman. It allows applicants to submit their request online from anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to a reliable internet connection.
In order to apply for an eVisa, there is no need to visit an Omani embassy or consulate in person nor to hire a travel agency. This is an advantage for both tourists and the Omani authorities, and the government is taking steps to go completely paperless in the future.
Since March 21st, 2020, paper applications have no longer been accepted through various service outlets and the ROP website will soon be the only portal available to submit a visa request.
Ahmed Sultan Al Nabhani, Director General of Passports and Residency at the ROP, expressed how the eVisa program is designed with several purposes in mind, including:
- Taking advantage of the latest technology
- Streamlining procedures
- Simplifying applications for foreigners.
The new system is being implemented gradually but will soon be extended to the majority of Omani visas.