IMMIGRATION officials are gearing up for a huge rush as fans arrive for next month's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. Extra staff would be drafted in at Bahrain International Airport and the King Fahad Causeway, to meet the rush, says Nationality, Passports and Residence Assistant Under-Secretary Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"The average number of visitors using the causeway in and out is 30,000 daily," he said.
"However, during the F1 event last year, we handled an average 64,000 passengers in and out each day.
"Besides people from G35 countries and GCC residents, who are granted visa on arrival, the airport handled more than 10,000 visitors from other countries during last year's F1."
Shaikh Ahmed said six extra immigration counters would be set up at the airport, on top of the normal 18.
"There will be two counters at Bexair terminal and additional counters for VIPs," he said.
"We are trying to shift some of the staff from the headquarters to the airport and the causeway during the event."
Visitors to Bahrain who arrive on the F1 visas are being advised to abide by the kingdom's residency rules.
The F1 visa is valid for two weeks from the date of first entry and is not renewable, said Shaikh Ahmed.
"Passengers can only use this visa for entry into Bahrain between February 26 and March 12," he said.
"The multiple re-entry visa is being issued free of charge exclusively for the Forumula 1 event which will be held from March 10 to 12.
"We request people who arrive on this visa to leave the country after the event, failing which they will be charged overstay fees."
The F1 visa has no physical evidence in the passport, said Shaikh Ahmed.
A printout of the visa approval or a letter of invitation from the sponsor may be carried by the passenger.
Passengers can obtain the F1 visa on arrival, or pre-arrange it through the Internet (www.evisa.gov.bh) or the GDNPR headquarters, depending on their nationality.
Visas can be obtained on arrival for people belonging to G35 group of countries, and the GCC alien residents, said Shaikh Ahmed.
All other nationalities must have a sponsor to obtain a pre-arranged F1 visa.
The sponsored F1 visas are only available to Bahraini commercial entities or individuals, said Shaikh Ahmed.
"Therefore, people selling tickets for the event outside Bahrain should make a note of it," he added.
"We would like to encourage all Bahraini commercial entities that are involved with the F1 event, whether for ticket sales or providing accommodation facilities, to register online and make use of the Internet services offered by GDNPR."
Shaikh Ahmed said all F1 visitors should fill out Arrival/Departure Cards.
A special entry stamp shall be stamped by the immigration officer into the passport and on the card.
The hard copy of the card will be attached to the passport and will be removed on departure.
Shaikh Ahmed urged passengers to retain their stamped departure card in their passport to speed up their departure.