Abu Dhabi: Companies and individual sponsors caught hiring illegal workers will face the full force of law, senior officials warned on Sunday as authorities declared amnesty for these unlawful workers.
Maj Gen Nasser Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, told Gulf News on Sunday that tough measures will continue to be taken against violators to ensure a safe society and a stable labour market in which workers’ rights are protected.
Those who employ illegal workers or allow their workers to take up jobs with other employers face a fine of Dh50,000 per person and Dh100,000 fine per worker plus a jail term on the second offence.
Al Menhali announced a two-month amnesty on Tuesday, detailing how illegal residents will be allowed to leave the UAE without penalty.
The senior official told a news conference: “Illegal residents who overstayed their visas can visit residency departments across the UAE to obtain outpasses and leave the country without penalties or regularise their visas after payment of fines between December 4 and February 3.”
Al Menhali encouraged illegal residents to come forward and take advantage of the scheme — a call echoed by Lieutenant Colonel Dr Salah Al Ghul, director of the cultural office at the Ministry of Interior.
Stressing that all expatriate employees who wish to work in the UAE must be employed by an appropriately licensed and approved company and be issued with an entry permit for employment purposes, a labour card (work permit) and a residence visa, Al Ghul said all brackets of society must shoulder their national duty towards this nation which spares no efforts to reach this international level of security and social stability.
Illegal workers, he said, harm security and stability of the country because they are often involved in illegitimate activities such as fraud, theft and assumption of personalities of third parties.
“Workers will only enjoy their rights as stated in the UAE laws if they are legal,” Al Ghul said.
In 2007, Federal Decree Law no 7 for 2007 was passed which amended the Immigration Law and increased the level of potential sanction which can be levied on the employer by the immigration department from Dh10,000 per employee to the present level of Dh50,000.
Under the law, any company that is caught employing illegal workers will face a Dh50,000 fine per worker on the first offence, and a Dh100,000 fine per worker on the second offence. And if the owner of the company is an expatriate, he will be deported and banned from entering the country for life while if the owner is a national, he will be jailed for a minimum of six months.
Exemption from penalty
Sponsors shall be exempt of penalties if they report the absconding of their workers.
There are also grave implications for the employee who is held to be working illegally.
If the individual has been found to have entered the country illegally, the Immigration Law provides that he shall be imprisoned for up to three years and will receive a fine of not less than Dh10,000. The immigration court may also impose a labour ban upon the individual and/or order deportation.