x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kerala government to pay amnesty fees for UAE Indian illegals

The Kerala government has announced it will pay the Dh69 levy required for Keralites hoping to return to India from the UAE.

DUBAI // An Indian state government has offered to pay the processing fee for amnesty seekers looking to return home.

The Kerala government has announced it will pay the Dh69 it costs Keralites for an emergency certificate from Indian missions.

“Considering the deep distress and suffering by non-resident Keralites ... the government would meet the expenses,” said the non-resident Keralites’ affairs department, or Norka.

“The method and procedure for receiving the payments by eligible non-resident Keralites will be ordered soon.”

In the last amnesty, about 50,000 Indian nationals left the country while another 36,000 legalised their status to stay in the Emirates.

Norka Roots, an arm of the Kerala-based Norka, said it was waiting for the order to come into effect.

Mr Rawther said once the directive came into force passport and visa officials would be asked not to charge the embassy fee of Dh60 or the outsourcing fee of Dh9 to amnesty seekers from Kerala.

He said people who paid the fee before the order came into effect could request a refund.

“They can be reimbursed at three airports in Kerala once they produce the receipt. We have set up help desks in these airports.”

The embassy said it had asked New Delhi to consider waiving the fee for all Indians applying for an emergency certificate to leave the UAE.

“We are asking the central government to waive the fees for everybody,” said MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador.

Mr Rawther said an impending order from the government could also pay for airfares for its residents to return from the UAE.

Nidhesh Elloyathil from Kerala, who recently received his pass from Sharjah immigration, said the amnesty was a relief.

“A lot of people are returning home after facing so many challenges here,” Mr Elloyathil said.

“They cannot afford even this nominal fee. The Kerala government is being generous by doing this for its people.”

pkannan@thenational.ae