Abu Dhabi: Sheltering and hiring residency violators is punishable by law, an official at the Ministry of Interior said on Monday, adding that doing so has social, economic and security implications.

According to Major General Nasser Al Awadi Al Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, inspection teams will not be lenient with those caught after the amnesty period has expired.

Major General Al Menhali said that measures will be taken to deport those found after the amnesty period to, “endorse safety and security in the UAE society and to cleanse it of violators in order to maintain the country’s achievements which has made it one of the world’s leading countries in development.”

The official urged all UAE citizens and residents to immediately report any violators as those belonging to this sector of society are considered outlaws. He also stated that the grace period is an initiative launched out of compassion for many individuals’ situations which have led them to into debt, especially if they have families.

The amnesty ends on February 4, no further grace periods or exceptions will be made, according to an earlier statement made by the Ministry of Interior.

Only those who have overstayed their visit and residency visas can benefit from this period, those who have illegally entered the country will be treated as criminals.

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 legalising their visas or choosing to leave the UAE after settling their dues.