Tents set up for amnesty-seekers in Al Aweer, Dubai, ahead of the amnesty. Amnesty-seekers who have a job offer can get a residency visa during the amnesty period. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A six-month visa announced by the UAE government for amnesty seekers to stay back and search for jobs is a golden opportunity for them to start life afresh here.

Although the UAE has granted amnesty to residency law violators several times in the past, it is the first time that amnesty seekers are getting a temporary visa to aid in their job hunt.

Amnesty seekers who already have a job offer can immediately move to a residency visa during the amnesty period. Those who want to stay back but have not managed to find a job can avail of the six-month visa.

However, the six-month temporary visa and new residency visa will be issued to those who entered the UAE through legal channels only, as others who came here illegally will get a two-year entry ban. They can leave the country without facing any legal action including fines, but can re-enter the UAE only after two years.

The six-month visa will be issued to the amnesty seeker on his or her own sponsorship, said a statement issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC).

The visa holder will be eligible to find a job in the government or private sector during these six months. If they get a new job during this period, they can move to the new residency visa.

However, if they don’t find a job within six months, they have to leave the UAE, FAIC said in a statement. It is understood that they can come back to the UAE on a new visa as they are not subject to an entry ban.

The authority is expected to announce the cost and procedures for the six-month visa soon.

Amnesty seekers looking for a job can also register on a portal of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), which will help them find jobs.

Foreign diplomats of the majority labour-sending countries to the UAE told Gulf News that they welcomed this new step by the UAE and urged their compatriots to utilise the opportunity.

“My congratulations to the UAE government for this initiative. We welcome the move because it gives a second chance to Indians who may have overstayed their visas for technical reasons,” said Navdeep Singh Suri (right), the Indian Ambassador to the UAE.

“We have already been trying to assist these individuals on an informal basis. The proposed MoHRE portal would be of great value to workers who find themselves stranded simply because they were laid off by their employers,” Suri said.

Mohammad Imran (left), the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, said the six-month visa for amnesty seekers is an important step in helping such people.

“Hope this will help Bangladeshi nationals who want to find a new job here.”

Rowena Pangilinan Daquipil (right), chargé d’affaires at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said, “Yes, of course, we welcome this move. But we leave the decision of whether to exit or stay within this amnesty period to our compatriots.”

She noted that those who exit can come back as no ban will be imposed on them. “Both options are good, so we leave it to our nationals to decide for themselves,” she said.

Sabarullah Khan, chargé d’affaires at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the six-month visa will be a golden opportunity for amnesty seekers who want to stay back and search for a new job.

He urged his compatriots to utilise this opportunity.

Four options for amnesty seekers

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) explained that Amnesty offers four options to residency law violators:

1. Those who entered the UAE through legal channels but overstayed their visa can leave the country without paying any fines and regularise their status if they have a job offer.

2. They are eligible to come back any time on a new job as there is no entry ban for them.

3. Those who came here legally can apply for a six-month temporary visa to search for a new job.

4. Those who entered the UAE illegally [without a visa] can also exit the country without paying any fines. However, they face a two-year entry ban and can re-enter the UAE only after that period.