The amnesty started on August 1 and concluded on December 31 after two months of extension. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Thousands of people including families and children benefitted from the five-month-long amnesty which ended on December 31, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced on Tuesday.

During the past five months, the amnesty was well received by the people and the response rate reached over 88 per cent, in which huge amount of fines and penalties were waived off, the authority said.

In some cases, the fine amount waiver reached up to millions of dirhams, the authority said. But the authority didn’t release any figures relating to total amount of fines waived and the total number of people, who benefitted from the amnesty across the country.

The amnesty started on August 1 and concluded on December 31 after two months of extension, permitting illegal residents to return to their home countries without paying any fines or facing prosecutions. They were also given the option to rectify their residency status to stay back in the country.

The authority said this was a golden opportunity for illegals to regularise their residency status and stay legally in the country. It provided them options for returning to their homes without paying fines or getting a re-entry ban on their passports, or stay in the UAE rectifying their residency status and look for jobs obtaining six months visa to search for new opportunities as per his/her skills and qualifications. Then he can transfer his visa to the new sponsor, the authority said.

Brigadier General Saeed Rakan Al Rashedi, Acting Director General for Foreigners Affairs and Ports at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, said, “The initiative continued for five months and successfully accomplished its goals attracting huge number of illegals who wished to benefit from it. It provided them opportunities to regularise their residency status to stay in the country or leave without paying fines and getting bans. It all exceeded their expectations and hopes.”

He thanked the authority for this noble initiative and appreciated the efforts of officials who executed it on the ground and contributed all their efforts to make it successful.

Brig Gen Al Rashedi emphasised that the authority will continue its efforts to make the UAE free of violators through continued awareness among people about the negative impact of running away from sponsors and breaking rules of the country.

In fact, they lose on both sides once they flee from their jobs – first they pose negative impact on the peace of society and its stability, and they fail to benefit from advanced facilities the country offers them in terms of health care and education, he said.

Brig Gen Al Rashedi stressed on the continued cooperation with the diplomatic missions based in the country who contributed a lot in facilitating their workers to regularise their status or return home after completing their formalities. They played vital role during the period.

The authority opened nine centres across the country to receive maximum number of amnesty seekers.

CRACKDOWN

Residents in the country were urged to avoid sheltering illegals or employing them as they could face huge fines and prosecutions.

Brig Gen Al Rashedi cautioned residents, locals, investors and all stakeholders to avoid sheltering illegals because it poses a negative impact on the society. He asked them to adhere to the residency rules for entering and staying in the country.

SIX-MONTH VISA HOLDERS

The authority also warned special six months visa holders for job search purposes to not work until they get a new sponsor and transfer their sponsorship.

He said the authority has given the chance to such people who want to stay in the country to look for new sponsors. “If they fail to find new sponsors they are requested to leave the country before their six months visa expire, and avoid getting fined again.”