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The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Nationality is preparing to launch an amnesty initiative allowing illegal residents to correct their status and work in the country without having to leave.
The ‘protect yourself by modifying your status’ campaign follows the adoption of new visa rules last week by the UAE Cabinet allowing those that overstay their visa to leave the country voluntarily without receiving a ‘no entry’ stamp and introducing a new visa category for job seekers.
A separate one-year visa scheme for nationals of countries affected by war of disasters was also announced on Monday.
The authority said the upcoming amnesty would allow illegal residents to correct their status without having any legal consequences, while also exempting them from overstay fines.
Director general of the Foreign Affairs and Ports Department, brigadier general Saeed Rakan Al-Rashdi, said the organisation would announce the beginning of the programme and the deadline for visa violators to benefit “during the next few weeks”.
Processing centres will also be established to handle applications and a free telephone hotline for any queries.
Those that can benefit will include domestic workers who have run away from their sponsors and illegal immigrants. Al-Rashdi appeared to indicate that those in the second category, who entered the country through unofficial channels, would face a two-year ban before they could return.
Others wishing to amend their status will be able to do so without fines and nominal fees.
The official called on violators, sponsors and members of the public to take advantage of the amnesty period, “which is distinguished from the initiatives that were previously launched in that it provides an opportunity for the offender to get a job and is inside the country without having to leave and return again”.
It has been more than five years since the last UAE amnesty in 2013.
Illegal residents that fail to take advantage of the period will be prosecuted, Al-Rashdi warned.
Crackdowns on illegal workers and residents are typically launched in the Gulf countries after an amnesty has ended.
Saudi Arabia has arrested more than 1.25 million people in a campaign against residence, labour and border security violators that began last November.