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The virtual session organised by GDRFA Dubai to launch an awareness drive on visa violators. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA) has conducted a study of those who have violated visa rules after March 1, 2020, to arrive at initiatives to address their situation.

Brigadier Khalaf Al Ghaith, assistant director-general, Violators and Foreigners Follow-up Section in Dubai, said on Wednesday that after the exceptional crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, GDRFA Dubai undertook a study on the situation of visa violators post-March 1, 2020.

“We were directed to do a study about people who violated residency laws after March 1 this year. There are initiatives resulting from the study to change their status,” Brig Al Gaith said during a virtual session to launch an awareness drive on visa violators. The campaign is titled ‘Homeland without Violators’.

“We have referred the study and the initiatives to our directors who will take it up further to see if they can be implemented,” he said.

After the country’s order to waive overstay fines of those who had violated the residency laws before March 1, this year, Brig Al Gaith said that UAE is keen to spread happiness and facilitate the conditions of violators amid he COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overstay violators or people staying illegally can invariably be seen in stable and rich countries like the UAE. People who come to our country try to somehow stay on,” Brig Al Gaith added.

He said that most violaters are those who failed to renew their residency or didn’t leave the country after their visit visa expired.

“They have stayed on in the country, searching for a job. Fines pile up and they can’t afford to pay them to change their status. UAE has become a dream for everyone to come, work and stay,” said Brig Al Gaith.

He urged violators to approach GDRFA-Dubai or call Amer call centre to receive proper guidance to change their status.

Help for those trapped due to COVID-19

Around 1,600 people in Dubai have been repatriated since June this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Major-General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, deputy director-general of GDRFA-Dubai

“We want to have a country without violators. Our teams helped to facilitate the repatriation of 1,600 people since June this year. We provided shelter and food for them until they returned to their countries safely. UAE played a key role in easing people’s lives in these exceptional times,” Brig Bin Surour said during the virtual session.

Security concerns

Colonel Ali Salem Al Shamsi, director of the Anti-Infiltrators Department in Dubai Police, said that violators can have a negative effect on the society and economy in the UAE.

He said violators were behind 18 worrying crimes in Dubai this year, compared to 25 in 2019.

“Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, the violator’s worrying crimes decreased this year. Most of the reports to the police are about beggars, vendors and random markets in labour areas,” Col Al Shamsi said during the virtual session.

He said the commander-in-chief at Dubai Police, ordered to create police teams specifically to catch such violators, especially infiltrators.

‘Homeland without Violators’

GDRFA-Dubai has launched the initative to encourage people not to hire a workers on others’ sponsorship or those staying illegally in the country.

Community members can make a pledge not to hide, shelter or hire a violator who breaks the residency laws and instead report them to the authority. The pledge can be made on GDRFA’s website to get a certificate.