x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Buying illegal work visas in the UAE has its perils

A Filipina who bought a work visa twice is now trying to recover the money she paid a compatriot involved in the visa trade.

Rachelle Parial, who bought a residence visa for her sister from a Filipina who claimed to know an Emirati sponsor in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Rachelle Parial, who bought a residence visa for her sister from a Filipina who claimed to know an Emirati sponsor in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // Rachelle Parial paid Dh10,000 to a Filipina receptionist who was selling visas on the side.

Ms Parial, 31, thought it was a good deal because brokers charged double for work visas.

The visa for a “clerk”, was for Ms Parial’s sister Rubina, 43, who earlier worked at a cleaning company.

“I was a bit wary at first but when I got hold of the employment visa it wiped all our doubts,” she said.

Ms Parial then referred her pastor to the receptionist, who promised to process his visa as well.

“For some reason, we were told that all the visas had been cancelled, including my sister’s visa,” she said. “So I asked her if she could apply for another visa.”

A check with the immigration records in July showed that Rubina had overstayed for 121 days, and owed a Dh1,800 fine.

“All the while they did not process my sister’s visa,” Ms Parial said. “So I was banking on the second visa.”

While her sister was on Iran’s Kish Island on a visa run, the sponsor of the second work visa, for a “babysitter”, sent a photocopy of the employment visa by email.

“The sponsor got upset and threatened to cancel the babysitter visa when I asked why he failed to send the original copy.”

Ms Parial warned Rubina against returning to Dubai with the visa copy but she did not heed the advice. She was held at the airport on her arrival in August.

“The immigration records showed she did not have any visa,” Ms Parial said. “They gave me 24 hours to get a tourist visa for her.”

In September, Ms Parial approached Dubai-based Gulf Law to help recover Dh10,000 from the receptionist who sold the visa.

“The law firm sent a demand letter saying she had to return the money within seven days,” she said. “She denied receiving any money from me but I have copies of all the receipts and the visas.”

The woman eventually paid back Dh3,380 in instalments though Ms Parial has not heard from the woman for the past two months.

“I trusted her completely,” she said. “I’m still hoping to recover at least half of the amount.”

Michael Almazar, director of the commercial department of Gulf Law, said expatriates should be aware of the risk of buying a visa that is illegal in the UAE.

“You can’t complain to the authorities,” Mr Almazar said. “It’s a dead-end problem.”

rruiz@thenational.ae