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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

After the amnesty: UAE immigration officers to begin visa inspection campaign

Officials said any check-ups on residents without visas will be targeted - and that 'no one will be stopped in the street'

Residents who have overstayed their visa or worked without wait to seen at the visa amnesty centre in Al Raha Mall. Victor Besa / The National
Residents who have overstayed their visa or worked without wait to seen at the visa amnesty centre in Al Raha Mall. Victor Besa / The National

Immigration officers will begin a campaign to identify residents who are in the UAE without a valid visa when the four-month amnesty ends on December 1.

But the authorities insisted "no one will be stopped in the street" and that all checks will be targeted.

The amnesty led to at least 30,000 without a valid visa coming forward in the first three months to tell the authorities they were in the country without valid documents.

Many asked for new visas while others - often with huge overstay fines that were subsequently waived - returned to their home country.

When the amnesty ends on Saturday, immigration officers will begin to tackle those that remain in the country illegally.

A total of 105 Filipino nationals prepare to fly out of Dubai to Manila as part of the UAE's amnesty programme. Reem Mohammed / The National 
Filipino nationals prepare to fly out of Dubai to Manila in August as part of the UAE's amnesty programme. Reem Mohammed / The National

Brig Gen Saeed Rakan, acting director general for the immigration authority, said there will be inspection campaigns to catch people without valid visas.

“The campaigns will follow planned procedures and will not be random inspections stopping people on the streets," he told The National.

“We will start applying the law against offenders but we will not stand out in public and ask people for their ID cards.

"We will follow legal procedures based on investigative reports.”

A search would be carried out for example if police learn of residential areas with a large illegal population or shared villas that is home to those without visas.

“When the traffic police ask for a driver's licence, it is based on an offence they committed or an incident that made them stop the person,” Brig Gen Rakan said.

"We don’t just stop all cars and ask for someone's licence."

At the end of the previous amnesty in 2013, a total of 385 people were arrested for failing to have a valid visa, including dozens in the Mussaffah and Tourist Club areas of Abu Dhabi.

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