Aiming to allow overstaying for illegal foreign workers and permitting them to leave the country without penalties, the UAE has launched a landmark three-month visa amnesty programme which will benefit hundreds of illegal foreign workers, including Indians
The scheme allows illegal foreign workers six months to find a job, UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the country. Professionally qualified personnel constitute about 15 to 20 per cent of the community, followed by 20 per cent white-collar non-professionals (clerical staff, shop assistants, sales men, accountants, etc) and the remainder 65 per cent comprises blue-collar workers.
The government did not release specific numbers, but says thousands of people, primarily labourers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, will benefit from the the amnesty scheme which will facilitate their smooth return to their home countries.
As per Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), the entity responsible for entry and residence of foreigners in the UAE, visa violators before August 1, 2018 will be able to rectify their status legally during the amnesty period, which will end on October 31.
Blacklisted and those who have legal cases against them are not eligible for amnesty. This is the third such amnesty announced by the UAE government in just over a decade. Overstaying residents have the option to exit the country without paying fines or facing jail or getting banned or they can rectify their status by getting a new-sponsored valid visa. As the amnesty period started, tens of thousands of expatriates gathered outside their respective visa outsourcing agencies in different parts of the country. Only one Indian amnesty seeker turned up at the BLS International Centre in Abu Dhabi, the Indian Embassy’s outsourced agency for consular services.