Girraj Prasad, Indian 

The first undocumented Indian to avail of the UAE amnesty from the Al Aweer amnesty centre in Dubai has hailed the reprieve given to visa overstayers.

Girraj Prasad,54, from the state of Rajasthan, is the first Indian who cleared all the procedures to get exemptions from fines to leave the country without a ban.

Speaking to Gulf News, Prasad, who worked as a tile cutter, said he became become illegal only because his company had not renewed his visa even after making him do the medical tests for it. 

“They kept me waiting for months since January. Finally I filed a labour complaint. After that the  company paid the pending salaries for two months and gave me a ticket to go home without fines during amnesty.”

Prasad, who has three children including a daughter, said he will be flying home on August 12.

“I had visited them last June. But I’m happy to see them, my wife and parents again after this ordeal.” 

He said he was happy that he didn’t have to pay fines for overstaying. “This is a big help for people like me. I’m so thankful to the government for this gesture.” 

He said he would love to come back on another visa to work again in the UAE. 

“My salary was Dh1500. That was the main income for my family. Definitely I want to come back and work here.”

-Sajila Saseendran/Senior Reporter

Sara Dereje, Ethiopia

Sara Dereje (above), 25, from Ethiopia, obtained an outpass on the first day of amnesty. She is grateful to the UAE government for their help.

She's finally going home after not seeing her family for two years.

"Thank you UAE. Thanks to our new government. I'm finally going home," Dereje, 25, told Gulf News.

-Janice Ponce De Leon/Reporter

Lucia T., Filipina 

Lucia T. worked in a cleaning company before becoming illegal. She is the first Filipina to be issued an outpass.

She initially planned to stay and legalise her status but her mother passed away yesterday prompting her to return home to see her mother for the last time.

Lucia hopes to fly home as soon as possible for her mother's burial. But the amnesty procedure requires for amnesty seekers to leave the country only by August 11.

"My mother was crying and looking for me in her death bed. I'm finally going home to bid her good-bye," Lucia told Gulf News. 

The Philippine government paid for all the exit expenses of Lucia and her tickets to Manila will also be provided.

-Janice Ponce De Leon/Reporter

Saddam Hussain, Indian

Saddam Hussain, 20, came to the UAE from India on a visit visa, which has since lapsed.

“I worked for [a] construction company and they didn’t change my status and [paid] no salary for one month so I escaped. I’m illegal resident for three months now and want to go back home without paying the fine,” Hussain told Gulf News.

- Ali Al Shouk/Reporter

Sara Bivin, Indian 

Sara Bivin is thankful to the UAE government. After two years of living terrified, she will finally go home on August 16. Bivin, 35, was labelled as absconding by her employee, not because she ran away, but because she had a legal case after a cheque bounced. 

The Dubai-based expat told Gulf News: “The case was resolved and I received clearance. But unfortunately, my passport number mentioned in the document was incorrect.”

While her application to retrieve her passport from the police kept getting rejected, her company terminated her as part of a lay-off. 

Due to the inavailability of her passport, her visa could not be legally cancelled and she was labelled absconding. 

Bivin told Gulf News: “Finally, after a number of court sessions, my passport number on the clearance document was corrected. Five days later I got my passport.” 

The mother of two plans to return with to India with her children. She said: “I have found a job in Hyderabad and I am happy for this chance to return to my country.”

- Evangeline Elsa, Community Solutions Editor

Rolando Dave Bobier, from Philippines 

Teary-eyed Rolando Dave Bobier arrived at the tent in Al Awir hours before opening time because he was eager to rectify his visa status.
The 36-year-old arrived in the UAE three years ago. Getting a job in an interior design company, he led a decent life with his wife in Dubai. However, things changed when he got a call from his home country – the Philippines - about his grandmother passing away. 

“I approached my employer to travel back home as they had kept my passport. They did not believe that my family member had passed away. They asked to sign cancellation papers but my wife and I begged them to let me go and be able to return and continue working there. They agreed,” Bobier said.

Once he was back, to Bobier’s surprise, the company still wanted to cancel his visa, apparently unless he agreed to an alternative offer that he was given. “They told me to work without a salary to avail a work visa,” Bobier added.

Due to desperate conditions, he agreed. However, one day, he met with a car accident and upon a police officer's notice, he found that an absconding case was filed against him. 

“Nobody even informed me about the case from my workplace,” he said. He wanted to get the case cleared and rectify his status. 

He found out about the amnesty initiative through Gulf News' web reports. “I am extremely happy. I feel like God has heard my prayers. The government of UAE is making it happen and they have such big hearts. I am thankful to them from the bottom of my heart,” said an emotional Bobier. 

Now, Bobier is able to approach UAE authorities because of the amnesty initiative, taking place in Al Awir to get a temporary visa in order to find a job.
“I am looking to get my case cleared and obtain the temporary visa for six months to get a job. I like living in the UAE and my wife is here too, I don’t want to go back,” he said. 

Bobier's son lives in the Philipines and he said that because of his visa status, it has been extremely difficult to visit his child. He said that he wants to be able to visit his family in his home country, once his visa issues are sorted.

- By Falah Gulzar, Trainee Social Media Journalist

Joel Piñero Pinili, from Philippines

Joel Piñero Pinili came to the UAE in 2006 on an employment visa. Around 12 years later, he ended up overstaying, with fines of more than Dh100,000; he was labelled as absconding. 

Pinili worked in an automobile company as a supervisor, and he later became an operations manager. However, he lost his job three years ago. The 49-year-old told Gulf News: “The agency that helped me come to Dubai, labelled me absconding after my visa finished.”

Pinili is the eldest in his family, he supports his parents who are in the Philippines. His siblings followed his lead and left the Philippines to work abroad. He wanted to stay on and earn for his parents. He added: “UAE has millions of cars and it was easy to find part-time jobs, though I know I wasn’t supposed to stay any longer. I couldn’t tell my family that I was overstaying. I didn’t want them to be worried because it is illegal.”

In 2016, he paid and cleared the absconding status on his passport. 

Thanking the authorities for allowing this legal method to stay and work in the UAE, Pinili told Gulf News: “I am so happy there is a way to stay here legally now and I am grateful to the UAE government. All my fines will also be sorted. It’s a relief. Many of my friends and I have benefited from the amnesty programme.”

Those who wish to seek amnesty and continue living in Dubai, need to visit Amer and Tasheel centers in the emirate.

- By Evangeline Elsa, Community Solutions Editor