Abu Dhabi: As the amnesty declared by the UAE for illegal workers ends on Sunday, the number of Asian workers who have sought emergency certificates [out-passes] from their embassies has dropped in comparison to the previous amnesty in 2007.
Asians constitute the majority of the workforce in the UAE.
The Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi issued 5,867 emergency certificates to amnesty seekers — the highest number among Asian nations, followed by the Bangladesh and Indian missions — 4,500 and 2,600 respectively.
Amnesty seekers who are not in a position to produce their passports have to get the emergency certificates from their embassies or consulates to prove their nationality.
After the applicants receive out-passes from their respective embassy or consulate, the UAE immigration authorities issue an exit permit that allows them to leave the country, provided they had entered the UAE on a valid visa.
Those amnesty seekers who have a passport can directly approach the UAE immigration authorities to get the exit permit. Between December 4 and January 4, about 20,000 illegal residents from 106 nations approached the immigration authorities and more than 9,400 of them already left the country, the UAE Ministry of Interior announced on January 5. The updated figures were not available from the ministry.
The Pakistani embassy issued 5,867 emergency certificates as of Monday, January 28, said Jamil Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani ambassador. About 30,000 Pakistanis in the UAE had availed themselves of the amnesty in 2007 but, this year, the number will be less, Khan said.
The Bangladeshi embassy issued about 4,500 out-passes and the consulate in Dubai about 12,000 as of Sunday, said Mohammad Nazmul Quanine, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the UAE. The total number of applicants may not cross 25,000 by the end of the deadline whereas 40,500 Bangladeshis availed of the amnesty in 2007 through the embassy and the consulate, the envoy said. A few thousands more might have directly approached the immigration authorities during the previous amnesty, he added.
The number of amnesty seekers from India, who constitute the largest expatriate community in the UAE, has gone down drastically compared to 2007, according to M.K Lokesh, India’s ambassador to the UAE.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai had issued 2,600 out-passes as of Sunday, Lokesh said. About 40,000 Indians took advantage of the 2007 amnesty, but the number this year will reach nowhere near that figure, he added.
The Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi has issued about 1,571 out-passes as of January 27, said Grace Relucio Princessa, Philippine ambassador to the UAE.
The Sri Lankan embassy, despite repeated attempts, did not comment on the number of people who had approached it for out-passes.
The Indonesian and Nepalese embassies said they had received roughly the same number of out-pass applicants as during the previous amnesty. The Indonesian embassy issued about 850 out-passes as of February 27, said Salman Al Farisi, Indonesia’s ambassador.
“Last time , we issued about 1,000 out-passes and the number may reach the same this time,” he said.
The Nepalese embassy issued 107 out-passes as of Sunday, said Deepak Adhikari, deputy head of the mission. He said the figure was not much different during the previous amnesty.