UAE announces three-month amnesty for ‘illegal' migrants

Nepali Embassy in Abu Dhabi appeals Nepalis to capitalise on the facility

Kathmandu, August 1

The government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) today announced a three-month amnesty period for migrant workers of various nations that have overstayed their visa to leave the country with no legal repercussions.

In a bid to resolve a Catch-22 situation facing ‘illegal' foreign workers, who are fined daily for overstaying their permits but prevented from leaving till they pay the penalties, the UAE government announced a three-month amnesty campaign which started from today (August 1) and would last till October 31.

The amnesty programme is basically targeted at migrants who have overstayed their visa period. Apart from Nepal, UAE receives a large number of foreign workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Philippines, among other countries and it is believed that a significant number of its migrant population are staying illegally in the Gulf nation.

Under the amnesty programme, the UAE government will pardon all fines and such migrant workers will be allowed to return to the UAE without any precondition after acquiring new visas, unlike in previous amnesties - a nod to the country's need for foreign workers.

This is the fifth amnesty programme of the UAE since 1996 and almost 60,000 people had taken advantage of the last one, which was announced in 2013.

As UAE is one of the major destinations of Nepali migrant workers, hundreds of Nepalis are believed to have overstayed their visa and residing in the country illegally, an official at the Department of Foreign Employment said seeking anonymity. As per the official, Nepalis who have overstayed their visa in UAE should take benefit of this programme.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of Nepal in Abu Dhabi published a notice today appealing all Nepalis who have overstayed their visas to reap the benefits of the amnesty programme of UAE government. As the programme forgives all fines for overstaying and even provides a six-month temporary visa during which the workers can search for jobs so that they can change their status to ‘legal', Nepalis that have overstayed in the country should take benefit from this offer, states the embassy's notice.

Foreigners who overstay their visas in UAE are fined between $7 to $27 per day, depending on the type of visa, and are not allowed to leave the country until the fines are paid. As the amount of the fines pile up over months and years, overstaying workers' prospects of payment become slimmer and slimmer.

The Associated Press reported centres were set up around the UAE to process applicants, with consular officials from many countries also on hand to help deal with passport and other issues. “Hundreds showed up at two massive air-conditioned tents set up on the outskirts of Dubai for the first day of the programme.”