Amnesty seekers at the Al Aweer Federal Authority for identity and citizenship, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners affair(GDRFA). Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) announced on Tuesday that the visa amnesty will be extended for one more month.

The authority said that the heavy turnout of undocumented residents at the diplomatic missions of the foreign countries and Amnesty Centres and slow procedures at some of the diplomatic missions of foreign countries have prompted the government to extend the amnesty.

The authority had earlier announced a three-month long amnesty from August 1 to October 31, which would now be extended to December 1.

The extension will provide more time for the amnesty-seekers to regularise their residency status to stay in the country or leave without paying fines or getting an entry ban.

Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, acting director-general for Foreigners Affairs and Ports at the FAIC, said the authorities will not offer any leniency to the residency-law violators after the extended amnesty period.

An extensive inspection campaign will be initiated across the country to arrest residency-law violators and they will be prosecuted as per the laws of the country and penalised for the whole period of violation with imprisonment followed by deportation, Brig Al Rashidi said.

He said the extension comes under the directives of the country’s leadership to make all efforts to help all residents and make their life easier.

During the extended period, the amnesty-seekers can also apply for a six-month visa under self-sponsorship to look for a job. They can either move to a new job visa, if they get a job offer, or leave the country after six months.

The authority also clarified that those who will be leaving the country on exit-passes can legally return to the country and there will be no entry ban on them. Even absconders who ran away from their sponsors can leave the UAE without getting the entry ban

However, those who entered the UAE illegally [without a visa] can renter the country after two years only.

Brig Al Rashidi said diplomatic missions of some countries were slowly processing their citizens’ amnesty applications. This caused delay in completing the procedures of residency-law violators.

He said all nine Amnesty Centres across the country will continue to welcome amnesty-seekers who wish to regularise their residency status or leave the country.

The initiative aims to make the “Emirates free from violators”. All undocumented residents can avail of this opportunity, the official said.

Location of Centres

There are nine Amnesty Centres for amnesty seekers across the UAE where they can regularise their residency status or get an exit pass to leave the UAE.

In Abu Dhabi, the centres are located at immigration office in Shahama, Al Ain and Al Gharbia. In Dubai the registration centre is in Al Aweer, while in other emirates, the main immigration offices act as Amnesty Centres.

Reception centres are there in Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain to facilitate amnesty-seekers.

Those who wish to clarify and obtain any information about the amnesty can call on the toll free number 8005111. This is operational 24/7 and people can communicate in multiple languages, including English and Urdu.

Embassies welcome amnesty extension

The extension would immediately help around 4,500 Bangladeshi amnesty — seekers who are still waiting to receive their renewed passports, which have to come from Dhaka in Bangladesh, said Mohammad Imran, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE.

Of 22,000 (twenty-two thousand) amnesty seekers who approached the Bangladeshi missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, 15,000 (fifteen thousand) applied for passports and remaining 7,000 (seven thousand) for emergency certificates. “Around 10,500 (ten thousand and five hundred) passports and almost all emergency certificates were already issued,“ he said.

The decision [extension] would help all those amnesty-seekers who for one reason or another have not been able to complete their papers, said Moazzam Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani Ambassador to the UAE. “We urge all those who are illegal to come forward and avail themselves of the opportunity and not wait for the last moment,” he said.

“We continue to urge our kababayans to avail of the amnesty programme. The extension signals that the UAE has generously provided more time to all with immigration concerns to have their documentation and legal issues resolved and apply for the amnesty,” said Paul Raymund Corte, Philippine Consul-General in Dubai.

Around 3000 Indonesian amnesty-seekers approached the Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, which issued 476 emergency passports for those wanting to go back home (most are still pending confirmation from the amnesty system), said Hussain Bagis, the Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE. The embassy also processed 1,725 passports (1,247 new passports and 488 extensions). “The embassy will facilitate our citizens during this extension,” he said.

Sri Lanka
The extension would give more time to those who could not use the amnesty period, said A Sabarulla Khan, Charge d’affairs at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Abu Dhabi. “We served about 600 Sri Lankans, of whom about 90 per cent took emergency certificates to return to Sri Lanka. The number of people calling over at the Embassy to apply for passports or emergency certificates has sharply declined. We urge all those Sri Lankans who stay in UAE without valid visa to regularise their status using the amnesty, he said.

— Binsal Abdul Kader, Senior Reporter