Amnesty seekers waiting for registration in front of the Emirates ID centre in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than 9,400 illegal residents have already availed of the UAE’s visa amnesty and left the country, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced in a statement on Saturday.

The visa amnesty period, which began on December 4 last year, has already seen more than 20,000 applications from illegal residents hailing from 106 countries, the statement added.

Those who have overstayed in the country should visit the nearest residency department and take advantage of the amnesty period, urged Brigadier General Dr Abdullah Ali Bin Sahoo, Director of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreign Affairs in Sharjah and head of the media committee for amnesty operations. The period is expected to end in the first week of February.

The official also called upon residents to spread awareness about the ongoing amnesty period to all illegal immigrants.

The 60-day amnesty programme allows visa violators to come forward and either regularise their visas, or leave the country without penalties. In general, overstaying in the UAE after the expiry of a residence visa is fined at Dh 25 per day. To regularise visas, immigrants must pay all the daily fines accrued as a result of overstaying.

The amnesty only applies to immigrants who have overstayed their residency visas. MoI officials earlier stressed that infiltrators into the UAE will still be treated as criminals.

Illegal residents who fail to make use of this amnesty have also been warned that they will face the full force of the law.

This is the fourth amnesty which has been made available in the UAE. In 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month long amnesty. During the second amnesty which ran for four months in 2002, around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the UAE.

Nearly 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty, declared in 2007, by either legalizing their visas or choosing to leave the UAE after settling their dues.