Dubai: A woman has been charged with entering the UAE after being deported during the 2003 amnesty, despite living and working in the country legally for nine years.
Filipina Elma Roldan had lived in the UAE since 1999 but when her sponsor died in 2003 she lost her passport with him and was forced to leave the country during the amnesty in the same year.
The 45-year-old told Gulf News that after she left the country ten years ago and had entered Dubai in 2004 through a visit visa issued by the residency department but was never informed that she was banned from entering the country.
Roldan said she entered Dubai three times during 2004 on different visit visas and later in the same year she was issued a residency visa and began working as accountant in a private company in Dubai.
Roldan said she was arrested on December 19 at Dubai airport while she was travelling with her family to Turkey for four days. She was told that she had entered the country after deportation despite being given a life ban.
“When I was in terminal 2 at the passport control the immigration officer stopped me saying that I was wanted since 2004 because of entering the country despite the life ban imposed on me by Sharjah residency department,” she said. “The officer held me and cancelled my flight then they told me that they would deport me because I am a wanted and on a blacklist. They cancelled my visa and I have to leave by the end of this month.”
Roldan said she was a legal resident in Dubai for almost 13 years and she never overstayed or committed any offence. The working mother said she was surprised when she was arrested at the airport and detained at Al Aweer deportation jail on the accusation of entering the country after deportation and that her fingerprints showed she had a previous life ban.
“I was asked to go to Sharjah residency department who took my fingerprints again,” she said.
She said the officer at Sharjah residency department said they needed to be sure that she was the same person.
“The officials in jail told me that I had a life ban in 2003 but my fingerprints were not showing in the ministry of interior system so I was issued with visit visas and a residency visa which I renewed three times,” she said.
She said she also obtained a driving licence and ID card.
“I obtained an ID card last year and I travelled outside of the UAE several times after obtaining the ID card,” she said.
Roldan said officials at the deportation jail in Al Aweer told her that in December 2011 the ministry updated the fingerprint system for people applying for ID cards and which showed she was blacklisted.
“I got my residency visa cancelled on spot and I was given till the end of this month to leave. They took my Iris scan and finger prints again,” she said.
She said she was due to leave the country on January 28.
“I’m living here with my family and I’m sponsoring my grandson and I also sponsored my daughter and my nephew,” she said.
She said her nephew bailed her out of jail until she leaves the country.
“It is not my fault what happened and I’ve never been illegal in the UAE. I was forced to leave during the 2003 amnesty only because my sponsor died and I was not able to get my passport,” she said.
“Why the Dubai residency department issued me visit and residency visas and then renew it if I’m blacklisted,” she said.
“Why they do not keep the fingerprint system updated to avoid messing up others’ lives,” Roldan said.