Mr Abdul Rashid, who earns Dh5,000 a month, had no idea how he would pay the huge fee
Family cleared of Dh3m in visa fines thanks to three-month amnesty
Najm Abdul Rashid and his family had hoped that the government's three-month visa amnesty would be the answer to years of worry – and a debt of Dh3 million.
Mr Abdul Rashid, who is originally from Myanmar but carries a Bangladeshi passport, arrived to the UAE in 1996 to live and work legally, and a few months later, he met and married Noorjahan.
“I was friends with her brother, that's how we met then got married,” said Mr Abdul Rashid, 46.
However, Noorjahan, 38, from Pakistan, had been living in the country without the required documentation for 34 years.
“Her parents lived in the UAE legally, but, god forgive them and bless their souls, they didn't issue her with the documents she needed before they passed away,” said Mr Abdul Rashid.
Noorjahan had no birth certificate and no passport. She had given birth to four daughters, 21, 19, 17 and 6, and all were also without documents.
They were rejected by several schools and had to be home schooled, their father said.
“I tried to issue passports for my daughters, but was not successful because their mother didn't have one. I was back and forth to the Pakistani embassy to try to issue [my wife] a passport and was only successful five years ago. Then my embassy issued passports for my daughters,” he said.
Mr Abdul Rashid was then faced with a new problem – legalising his family’s residency status meant that he would have to pay a large amount of money in fines due to their lengthy illegal stay.
“I heard about the amnesty in the news and knew it was going to be my saviour,” he said.
Immigration officers in Ajman directed him to fill in the required forms, and then he was informed that his family's debt exceeded Dh3m.
Thanks to the amnesty, however, Mr Abdul Rashid and his family no longer need to pay.
“If it wasn't for the amnesty, how could I ever pay such an amount on my Dh5,000 salary?’ asked Mr Abdul Rashid, who is now awaiting his documents so he can sponsor his wife and daughters.