Millions of dirhams in fines were waived off during the five-month visa amnesty scheme that ended on December 31. The scheme, which gave illegal residents the opportunity to modify their status or leave the UAE without facing fines or legal issues, registered a "response rate of 88 per cent", according to the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.
The 'Protect Yourself by Changing Your Status' amnesty scheme began on August 1 and was slated to end on October 31. However, the authority extended it by a month and it was supposed to end on November 30. As part of the UAE's celebration of its National Day, the scheme was further extended for a month till December 31 to give illegal residents more time to legalise their status.
The authority said in a Press statement on Tuesday that "thousands" have benefited from the initiative, which even had the provision for illegals to opt for a six-month job-seeker visa. The scheme helped all kinds of illegal residents in the UAE: Workers and families overstaying residence visas; people overstaying visit visas; and those who entered the country illegally without visas.
Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, acting director-general of foreigners affairs and ports at the authority, urged those who opted for the temporary visa to respect its six-month validity. He warned them to leave the country if they have been unable to secure a job during this period. This will help them return to the country again without any legal issues.
UAE Amnesty for Illegal Expats Ends Today
More Than 2000 New Jobs to Be Created in Dubai in 2019
Brig Al Rashidi said the nine amnesty centres set up across the country received illegal residents and guided them through their legalisation process. He attributed the initiative's success to the authority's awareness campaigns on mainstream media, social media and direct communication with residents.
"The authority cooperated with embassies and diplomatic missions in the UAE to facilitate and accelerate the processes of legalisation of their citizens. This helped the missions raise awareness of their citizens," the official said.
He warned firms operating in the UAE against recruiting people living illegally in the country, stressing that it harms security and stability.
The authority had previously warned that people caught staying illegally in the country after the end of the amnesty period would face stringent punishments, including fines, jail sentences and deportation.
Copyright © 2019 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.