The UAE’s Cabinet’s decision to extend the grace period for people illegally staying in the UAE on expired visas to leave the country without paying fines, comes within the framework of the nation’s exceptional humanitarian initiatives undertaken in the year of the pandemic.
As per the new order, the deadline for overstay violators to exit the country without any fines has been extended until December 31, and is valid for all visa holders — visit, tourist or residency — who violated the entry and foreigners’ residence law before March 1, 2020. They will be exempted from all fines provided they leave the country before the deadline, according to Major General Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, Director General of Foreigners Affairs and Ports at Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA). The deadline was earlier scheduled to end on November 17.
Facilitating the extension of the visa fine waiver is by itself a major logistical exercise that requires constant coordination among a wide variety of government agencies — but the UAE has been steadfast in its commitment to the humanitarian principles that lie at its core, even in the midst of a raging pandemic
The extension of the grace period is not only a new opportunity for violators to change their status before the year-end without any financial or legal consequences, it also provides them with renewed hope to make a positive difference to their lives.
The humanitarian gesture by the UAE authorities comes during a year when the circumstances of many families and individuals have been dramatically altered by the coronavirus pandemic — whether through family situations, health, employment or financial reasons. Some had travelled to the UAE to meet their loved ones or simply to enjoy the tourist hot spots here and were unable to return home due to the raging virus. Whatever be the reason, the extension of the grace period offers a practical and timely chance for all such violators to safely leave the country.
The undocumented status of such people also makes them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous agents, employers or others — undercutting the UAE’s labour laws, violating health and workplace standards, misusing insurance rules and placing visa violators in situations without any redress to the rights afforded to the legal visa holders. These are exactly the kind of situations that the UAE authorities are determined to put an end to — and it assumes critical significance as they combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact through proactive measures.
Facilitating the extension of the visa fine waiver is by itself a major logistical exercise that requires constant coordination among a wide variety of government agencies — but the UAE has been steadfast in its commitment to the humanitarian principles that lie at its core, even in the midst of a raging pandemic. Therefore, it is imperative for all visa violators to immediately avail themselves of this generous extension and fully cooperate with the authorities to leave the country or regularise their status.