Dubai: Residency departments cannot punish people who have arrest warrants against them for financial disputes by not renewing their residence visas, legal experts have said.
Senior Interior Ministry officials have said residency departments will not renew residence visas if expatriates are wanted by police for financial issues. This will also apply to expatriates' relatives and those employed by them. Residency visas are renewed once the person settles the financial disputes.
Several residents told Gulf News their applications for the renewal of residency visas were rejected by residency departments because banks had lodged complaints against them with police, who had issued arrest warrants. Residency departments refused to renew their residency based on orders from police.
Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Borders, told Gulf News Wednesday if banks file a case with the police against a person for financial issues and an arrest warrant is out for them, no transaction is carried out for that person.
However, Major General Al Menhali said the residency department does make exceptions.
"We look at the case on humanitarian grounds. We renew the residency visa if the person has a family. We ask the person to sort out the issue with the bank immediately," he said.
Brigadier Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, acting Director of the Dubai General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, told Gulf News the residency visa of a person wanted by police cannot be renewed if they are involved in cases such as bounced cheques. Brigadier Bin Surour said the residency department in Dubai also deals with such matters case by case.
The department usually renews the person's and the family's residency visa to curb the increase in the number of illegal residents.
"The person cannot carry out any transaction in court or renew residency visas. This is a step to protect others' rights. It is to pressure the person to sort out the issue," he said.
"From our experience many people who had their visas blocked and even cannot leave the country till they solve the issues, usually obtain letters from courts to drop their fines for staying illegally here after their cases are over."
Dr Khalifa Rashid Al Sha'ali, a lawyer, told Gulf News that when police ask for a visa ban it is meant to pressure a person into paying his dues. Dr Al Sha'ali said not renewing the person's residency visa is illegal and unjustified.
"Residency departments are administrative departments and their main task is to regulate the residency and entry of foreigners into the country."
He said residency, traffic and civil defence departments are administrative and not judicial units. They cannot arrest people.
Dr Al Sha'ali said if the person commits a crime related to residency then it has the right to arrest him.