Come August 1 and lasting for three months thereafter, a general amnesty will come into effect for foreigners and non-residents who have violated the UAE’s residency laws.
While full details of the amnesty — dubbed ‘Protect Yourself via Rectifying Your Status’ — have yet to be clarified, Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, acting director-general of Foreigners Affairs and Ports Department at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, has outlined that violators will have the option to either rectify their legal status by paying nominal fees or can leave the UAE without formal prosecution.
Either way, the proposed upcoming amnesty period provides an opportunity for law breakers to get their house in order in a timely and cooperative fashion.
Authorities are also providing a toll-free number for members of the public to ask questions, seek clarification and allow violators to take every available measure to regularise their visa status.
Make no mistake, this is an opportunity that happens only every few years, is timely, and those staying within this nation’s borders must avail of the three-month window to pay the nominal fees and regularise their status — or leave the UAE without legal consequence or serious impediment.
The three-month amnesty is being welcomed by volunteers for social groups who work within communities to assist and provide advice and help for those who find themselves, for one reason or another, staying in the UAE without proper paperwork.
These undocumented persons, however, are in a perilous situation, one that unscrupulous employers or others can use to their advantage, undercutting labour laws, violating workplace and salary standards, misusing insurance rules and place visa violators in serious and compromising situations without any redress to the rights and protection afforded to the visa holders.
In addition, these visa violators also compromise the overall security of the nation, and it remains imperative at all times that this nation’s authorities and security officials are fully aware of exactly who is living here.
This proposed amnesty provides an opportunity now for families to get their houses in order. Yes, it is fully understandable either through family circumstance, health, emotional or financial reasons that visiting relatives might stay on here after their visit visas expire. So too, given the fluctuations of the local economy and changes of circumstance brought about by such variations, visa violations can occur. The reality now, however, is that this amnesty opportunity offers a practical and timely chance for all to fix their status or leave. Those who ignore this will do so to their inevitable detriment.