Immigration officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that illegal immigrants in the country will be provided a specified extension permit to remain in the UAE to either regularize their immigration papers with the UAE immigration department or to leave the country without paying any penalty. On Tuesday November 13th, 2012, the UAE immigration authorities announced an amnesty for the country’s illegal immigrant, allowing them 2 months to regularize their visas after paying the due penalties, or to leave the country without paying anything. Immigration officials said that the initiative was to speed up the process of reducing illegal immigration in the country by providing legal choices to the undocumented aliens, hence avoiding any adverse consequences for both them and the country. The officials also stated that the amnesty is only for visa overstayers and not for those who arrived in the UAE illegally, claiming that they were criminals and will go through normal immigration procedures. This is the country’s fourth amnesty program for local illegal immigrants, which the officials claimed might be better than the previous ones.
According to immigration officials in UAE, expatriates living in the country, having overstayed their visa period can now go to the UAE immigration department and request a 2 month temporary stay permit to remain in the country. This permit will allow these visa overstayers to either duly regularize their immigration status in the country or leave for their home country. In the former case, the immigrants will have to discharge all, if any, penalties due to the government as a result of them overstaying their visa periods. Whereas, in the later case, no payments will be required from the overstayers leaving the country.
The overstayers will be issued special passes by the immigration authorities. The amnesty, according to the officials, will start from December 4th, 2012, and remain valid till February 3rd, 2013.
UAE’s Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalization, Residency and Ports Affairs, Major General Nasser Awadi al-Menhali, said that the initiative will allow the government to officially reduce the number of undocumented immigrants staying in the country. While addressing a press conference regarding the program, al-Menhali clarified that the authorities will only provide such amnesty to those immigrants in the UAE who have overstayed their visa periods. As for immigrants who arrived illegally to the country, no such amnesty will be available to them. And they will be processed as criminal offenders facing punitive consequences.
In addition to this, those overstayers who are serving a sentence will only be allowed to avail such amnesty once they have discharged all their dues to the authorities.
“Illegal foreigners,” al-Menhali said, “will be issued out-passes after any pending cases or dues are settled.”
Al-Menhali said that the overstayers will have to provide their valid passports and air tickets in order to gains the passes and be free of any penalties and charges. He said that the program is the country’s fourth attempt to counter illegal immigration, the last one being introduced in 2007 involving over 340,000 undocumented immigrants in the country.
“This is the fourth amnesty scheme,” al-Menhali said, “and we are hopeful, illegal residents who did not avail of previous schemes will do so this time.”