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UAE waives millions of dirhams in fines during amnesty

UAE waives millions of dirhams in fines during amnesty

The five-month amnesty scheme ended on December 31

The UAE waived off fines worth millions of dirhams during its five-month visa amnesty scheme that ended on December 31, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said on Tuesday.

The ‘Protect Yourself by Changing Your Status’ scheme, which allowed illegal residents to leave the UAE without paying fines or facing prosecution, registered a response rate of 88 per cent, the authority said.

The initiative also provided an option for illegal residents to to modify their status with a six-month job-seeker visa.

The programme, which began on August 1, was initially slated to end on October 31. However, it was later extended by two months until December 31.

Read: UAE further extends amnesty for illegal residents

Thousands of people, including workers, families overstaying residence visas and those who entered the country illegally benfitted from the scheme, the authority said.

Among the beneficiaries of the scheme during the opening weeks was a family based in Ajman, which had Dhs3m ($816,735) of overstay fines cleared.

Read: UAE-based family cleared of Dhs3m of fines under amnesty

“The initiative continued for five months and successfully accomplished its goals attracting huge number of illegals who wished to benefit from it,” said Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, acting director-general for Foreigners Affairs and Ports at the authority.

“It provided them opportunities to regularise their residency status to stay in the country or leave without paying fines and getting bans.”

Nine centres were set up across the country to receive the amnesty seekers.

“The authority cooperated with embassies and diplomatic missions in the UAE to facilitate and accelerate the processes of legalisation of their citizens. This helped the missions raise awareness of their citizens,” Al Rashidi added.

However, he also urged those who opted for the temporary visa to adhere to its six-month validity and warned them to leave the country if they were unable to get a job during the period.

Al Rashidi also warned residents and companies in the UAE to avoid sheltering or recruiting people living illegally in the country.

People caught staying illegally in the country after the end of the amnesty period will face strict penalties, including fines, jail sentences and deportation, the authority said.

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