Abu Dhabi/ Dubai/Sharjah: Hundreds of illegal residents flocked to immigration centres in Dubai on Tuesday to benefit from the 60 day visa amnesty.
But across the country, numbers were more moderate as the campaign got underway on its first day.
Around 300 illegals came to the Al Aweer Investigation and Follow up on Illegals Department to finalise their departure process.
Among them were families, workers, domestic helpers, tourists and visitors - who presented a string of documents and had fingerprints taken to start the process of leaving the country.
Lt Colonel Khalif Al Ghiath, of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA), told Gulf News on Tuesday that so far, the process is going smoothly.
“Illegal residents can approach Investigation and Follow up on Illegal Department in Al Aweer where the amnesty tent is installed and which is well equipped to speed up the amnesty process for everyone,” he said.
Major General Mohammad Ahamd Al Merri, director General of the GDRFA in Dubai inspected the workflow at the amnesty centre and instructed the officials to guide the public and help them by all means.
Gulf News spoke with some of those applying for amnesty in Dubai, who said they are happy to leave without a life ban.
“We were born and brought up here and my parents have been living here for more than 35 years,” said a man from Balochistan, Pakistan, who visited the Dubai amnesty centre to finalise the amnesty process of his mother and two brothers.
He told Gulf News, after the death of his father 10 years ago, his two younger brothers and mother became illegal.
“Overstaying fines accumulated, we are now happy because the amnesty has been granted to people.”
Elio, a Lebanese tourist, said he entered the country on a tourist visa but overstayed by 60 days.
“I love Dubai but I failed to extend my tourist visa so I decided to overstay because I love life in Dubai and I like to go shopping here ,” he said.
Another Syrian family, a mother and her two children, aged 12 and 15 said they came on visit visa and overstayed by 77 days.
“Officials are kind and helpful and I hope we will finish the process quickly,” the mother said.
In Sharjah, residents queued at a tent, behind the residency department to apply for amnesty.
Sharjah also witnessed a large number of amnesty applications.
The Asian embassies in the capital did not witness much of a rush of amnesty seekers on the first day.
The centre in Abu Dhabi, accepting applications of Indian amnesty seekers, received just five applications on Tuesday, M.K. Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.
A total of 52 applications were received until late afternoon across the UAE, he said.
About 32 were in Dubai, 11 in Sharjah, two in Ajman and one each in Ras Al Khaimah and Kalba, the envoy said.
About 75 Pakistanis approached the Pakistani Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai, Jamil Ahmed Khan, Pakistani Ambassador to the UAE, said.
The Bangladeshi Embassy in Abu Dhabi received around 100 people, said Mohammad Shahadat Hussain, the first secretary at the embassy.
Philippines Embassy in Abu Dhabi assisted about 85 people who applied for out-passes, said Grace Relucio Princesa, the Philippine Ambassador. “Two of them were expected to leave the country by Tuesday night,” she said.
The Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi received around 15 people who came in search of their passports. “We had received many passports of Sri Lankan nationals from the UAE Government,” a spokesman said.
Those keen to apply have been advised to bring along the original visa by which they entered the country and their passport.
Anyone without a passport should get an outpass from their consulate.
Applicants must first have their fingerprints taken. They should then come back after 10 days with an air ticket to complete the departure process.