Landmark UAE amnesty period begins

Options to remove absconding status, 6-month visa and opportunity for former residents to escape ban are unprecedented gestures

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Amnesty tents at the Violators and Foreigners sector in Al Aweer, Dubai.

Abu Dhabi: The UAE Government’s landmark initiative to grant amnesty to residency law violators kicks off today, offering reprieve to thousands of illegal residents.

Here's our coverage from the ground as it happens.

7.29am: The process has begun earlier than expected this morning.

Brigadier General Khalaf Al Ghaith

Brigadier General Khalaf Al Ghaith, the assistant director general of the violators and foreigners follow-up section at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (left), speaks to an amnesty seeker


amesty 1

It’s 7.15am at the Al Aweer centre in Dubai. People are starting to arrive.

Historic times

Dh221 is the exit permit fee for those who have valid passport, ticket

The initiative is historic, as the government has announced many options to the amnesty seekers, which were never available during the amnesty periods in the past.

Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, director of Residency Affairs at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, said: “This is a great opportunity for illegal residents to rectify their status legally or leave the country without paying fines.”

Although overstayers who find a new job were always allowed to regularise their status, absconders among them had to leave the country with an entry ban.

However, this amnesty offers a golden opportunity for absconders to get their absconding cases removed from the system and move to new visas, if they get job offers.

All you need to know about UAE amnesty

This reprieve is extended to even former residents who left the country with a ban. No other amnesty in the past offered any benefit to former residents.

They can apply for any type of new visa [tourist/visit/resident/ investor] through normal channels during the amnesty period, although each application will be considered on a case-to-case basis.

Dh521 to get absconding case closed for former private sector workers

Those who do not have any pending legal cases against them and were never convicted of serious crimes in the UAE may be considered.

Amnesty seekers, who wanted to stay back in the country but could not find a new job, had no other option in the past but leave the country. But this year, the government has announced a generous scheme to give them a six-month temporary visa that will help their job hunt.

During the past amnesty periods, there were reports about people who had been overstaying for many years without utilising the previous amnesty scheme. Most of them said they did not utilise the amnesty as they were not in a position to leave the country but they could not find a new job during the amnesty period. This time, the six-month visa may give a lifeline to such people who want to stay back further and try to start a new life.

This amnesty offers new opportunity for infiltrators as well. Those who entered the UAE without a visa were able to leave the country without facing any punitive actions such as imprisonment and fines during the previous amnesty periods but they were never allowed to come back. However, this time such people can come back after two years.

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