181209 amnesty seekers
Amnesty seekers at Al Aweer centre in Dubai. Thousands of expats have benefited from the ongoing amnesty. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s visa amnesty has been extended for one more month granting amnesty seekers more time to settle their visa status in the country, an official told Gulf News on Monday.

Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Al Dallal, spokesperson at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs of the Ministry of Interior, said the amnesty extension came under the directives of His Highness UAE President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in celebration of the UAE’s 47th National Day and would now end on December 31.

The extension is the second time the UAE amnesty period has been lengthened. Originally launched on August 1, the amnesty period was initially set for three months until the end of October; it was then extended until November 30 and then again until December 31

Thanks to the amnesty, thousands of amnesty seekers who were living in the UAE illegally have been able to clear their residency status or receive their exit permits without a fine or legal action taken against them. The UAE’s amnesty also provides a temporary six-month visa for amnesty seekers which they can transfer to a residency visa once they legally find a job.

Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, Acting Director General of Foreigners and Ports Affairs at the Federal Authority, said the extension was made to give amnesty seekers in the country more time to benefit from the initiative.

“The authority has received many calls from those who were not able to benefit from the initiative, due to being unable to complete the required procedures. These calls were directed to the country’s leadership, who immediately responded and extended the initiative.

“The (amnesty) initiative will enable applicants to stay in the country after settling their status, through registering in the ‘Virtual Labour Market System’ that will help them apply for jobs on a website supervised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. They can apply for a temporary residence for six months without the need for a sponsor, until they find a sponsor or leave the country after the expiry of their residence,” Al Rashidi explained.

“Those who voluntarily apply to the initiative may receive a full exemption from all related fines and could be allowed to leave the country without being blacklisted from re-entering, which will enable them to return on a tourist visa and change their status without paying a fee of Dh500,” he added.

Nine centres in all seven emirates will continue to process applications from amnesty seekers, with the centres operating Sunday-Thursday from 8am-8pm. Call centres will also be operating 24 hours a day during the same period. Amnesty seekers can call 80080 to get all the information they need.

Extension welcomed

“This latest amnesty extension will be good for those who have not used the amnesty grace period; they now have an extra month to resolve their status if they have not already done so,” said Kapil Raj, second secretary at the Indian embassy.

“Extending the amnesty period will be beneficial for those who need it and so we are supportive of this decision,” he added.

Raymund Cortes, Philippine consul general, also welcomed the decision and said the consulate was ready to provide continued assistance to amnesty seekers.

“The extension opens the doors for more of those with immigration violations to come forward and have their status rectified. They have been given four months now, five including December, so hopefully more will have their respective cases worked out by the year end.

“As the amnesty covers only overstaying and absconding cases, we urge all with these cases to come to the consulate so we can assist and guide them through their amnesty procedures,” he added.

“We also ask those with civil or criminal cases — bank, rental disputes, check cases, and others — to seek legal assistance to resolve their respective cases so that they could take steps to avail of the amnesty programme,” he said.

UAE amnesty timeline

  1. Started on August 31, originally intended to last for three months until October 31
  2. Amnesty period extended until November 30, giving illegal residents more time to settle their residency status and exit permits
  3. Amnesty period extended for the second time until December 31