181209 amnesty seekers
Most Indians applying for amnesty plan to stay back, including many who work as hired or domestic help. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: With half of the visa amnesty period in the UAE over, the Consul General of India in Dubai has urged undocumented Indians living in Dubai and Northern Emirates not to wait any longer before applying.

Since the amnesty began on August 1, the Indian Consulate in Dubai has issued 1,450 emergency certificate [the travel document commonly known as outpass] to Indians seeking amnesty and without a valid passport. The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has issued 335 outpasses.

If they have valid passports, amnesty applicants need not seek any document from the missions. The missions usually have figures of amnesty applicants who approach them through BLS International Centres for outpasses, when their passports are either expired or lost.

During the current amnesty, applicants are also renewing their passports, to be able to stay back in the country. The Indian Embassy has issued passports to 107 amnesty applicants until Sunday, but the consulate did not provide any figure.

As per the initial estimates of various community groups and volunteers, several thousands of Indians, including hundreds of families, were expected to seek amnesty.

However, the Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, said those figures did not seem accurate.

“Generally, people have a tendency to wait till the last moment. So we expect a surge [in the number of applications] in the last month [of amnesty],” he said.

However, the diplomat said people should not wait till the last minute to apply. “I keep telling the associations that they need to bring the cases they are aware of to the consulate. But, as I said earlier, I don’t think the figures will be too big as projected by them.”

Advocate A. Najumudeen, general secretary of Indian Relief Committee (IRC) in Ras Al Khaimah, said the help desks run by the committee on its premises and in the amnesty centre of the Ras Al Khaimah immigration department have registered details of about 2,000 amnesty seekers.

“About 75 per cent of them are eligible to correct their visa status, to either leave the country or stay back here on new visas,” he said.

“Most Indians are planning to stay back. Many who work as drivers, gardeners and domestic helpers are getting visas to stay back. We are assisting those who have cheque cases, traffic fines etc with legal advice on how to get clearance and seek amnesty within the deadline.”

Najumudeen said the committee had provided flight tickets to a few amnesty applicants, including the family of a cancer-stricken man who had bounced cheque cases, and a woman who was stranded here with her 10-year-old daughter, as her husband is in jail.

In Dubai, the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, which registered details of over 300 amnesty seekers, said 40 per cent of the applicants wished to stay back in the UAE. “Most families who approached us cannot go back home due to financial cases. We have three such families now. In one case, the husband is in jail,” said a KMCC representative handling amnesty cases.

— With inputs from Binsal Abdul Kader