Abu Dhabi: A two-month amnesty has been granted to illegal residents, allowing them to leave the country without penalty or regularise their visas, a senior official said on Tuesday.

 Major General Nasser Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, told a news conference: “Illegal residents who overstayed their visas can visit residency departments across the UAE to obtain outpasses and leave the country without penalties, or regularise their visas, after payment of fines between December 4 and February 3.”

Al Menhali stressed the amnesty, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in April, covers only those who overstayed their visit or resident visas, but not infiltrators, who he said will be treated like criminals.

He encouraged illegal residents to come forward and take advantage of the amnesty as soon as possible and not to wait for the deadline or miss it, “because there will be no extension or exception whatsoever of the amnesty scheme”.

Major General Al Menhali added a resident who overstayed his or her visa can come forward with their passports and air tickets to obtain an outpass, get their fines waived, and leave the country.

 Passports withheld by residency department in absconding cases, will be handed over to their holders, he said.

He said those who wish to regularise their visas have to pay all fines accumulated as a result of their overstay of their visas, warning illegal residents who fail to make use of this amnesty that from February 4 they will face the full force of the law.

 “This is the fourth amnesty scheme and we are hopeful, illegal residents who did not avail of the previous schemes will do so this time.”

 As many as 342,000 illegal immigrants took advantage of the last amnesty declared in 2007.

Official statistics showed that 341,958 illegal residents availed of the amnesty by either legalising their stay or by leaving the country.

While 95,000 illegal workers legalised their status, nearly 175,000 left the country.
Around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the country under the second amnesty which ran between January and April, 2002.

In 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month long amnesty.

The move to allow passage to illegal foreigners stuck in the UAE for violation of various immigration rules and regulations is meant to clear the country of thousands of them but Major General Al Menhali declined to say how many illegals were expected to make use of this amnesty or the statistics of those already arrested since the last amnesty.

Major General Al Menhali said that illegal foreigners arrested are also granted this amnesty and allowed to leave the country as long as they do not have any pending cases.

“Illegal foreigners will be issued outpasses after any pending cases or dues are settled,” Major General Al Menhali said.

Al Menhali said residency departments across the country will be organising several awareness campaigns and press briefings to educate the public about the amnesty and the need for illegal residents to take advantage of this gesture.

For any information about the amnesty, people can call toll free telephone number 8005111. It will be a 24/7 service in Arabic and English.