Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes has reminded his kababayan (compatriots), whose visa – visit, tourist or residency – had expired before March 1, to avail of the UAE immigration fine waiver before November 17.

“Please take note of the deadline and abide by the host (UAE) government rules and policies. I urge those with immigration issues to consider this opportunity for them to rectify their status,” Cortes told Gulf News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Under the scheme, which began on May 18 and was supposed to end on August 18 but was extended until November 17, all overstaying fines will be waived off, provided the violators leave the country.

UAE authorities have called on offenders to take advantage of the opportunity and leave the country or legalise their status without facing penalties. The scheme applies to all who have been illegally staying in the country after their visa - visit, tourist or residency - expired before March 1. It does not, however, cover UAE residents who lost their jobs and their residency visas were cancelled after March 1.

Those who want to avail of the amnesty and leave the UAE must have a valid passport and a return flight ticket. Authorities said no ban will be imposed on the offenders and they can still return to the UAE. Those with questions related to the scheme can call toll-free number 800-453.

Assistance to Filipinos

Cortes, meanwhile, strongly urged overstaying Filipinos who have other cases like bank and loan issues, bounced cheques or unpaid rent and other disputes to resolve their cases at the earliest to make themselves eligible for the scheme.

“They can request assistance through our Assistance to Nationals (ATN) Section via email at atn@pcgdubai.ae or through WhatsApp +971 56 417 7558 so that we could help them rectify their cases in the soonest possible time considering the November 17 deadline for amnesty,” Cortes noted.

Cortes, however, clarified that the Philippine government can only extend legal assistance to Filipinos in distress but will not be able to pay for any bank loans, credit card debts or rent.

On Monday, Cortes noted 50,000 Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates have left the country since June for various reasons brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Of the total amount, the Philippine Consulate in Dubai has provided free tickets and assistance to more than 2,600 distressed Filipinos, including 143 Filipinos who were repatriated from Dubai on October 31.

Previous waiver

Based on reports, back in 2018, over 3,000 Filipinos availed of the UAE’s general programme. They were provided with free tickets by the Philippine government and were each given $100 (Dh365) as “welfare assistance”.