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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

More than 1,500 seek support on first day of amnesty drive in Dubai

Hundreds of residents who have overstayed their visa secured exit permits to leave country of first day of three month campaign

Amnesty applicants turned out in force again at Al Aweer immigration centre. Antonie Robertson / The National
Amnesty applicants turned out in force again at Al Aweer immigration centre. Antonie Robertson / The National

As early as 8am, they sat in two huge tents waiting for their turn to speak to immigration officials. Patiently, they queued, eager to apply to change their legal status under the Government’s visa amnesty.

Thursday was the second day of the three-month programme and officials were ready for the rush. More than 1,500 people had packed into Al Aweer immigration centre for the first day, when a total of 326 people secured exit permits allowing them to leave the country without penalty.

The amnesty, which has been launched to clarify the legal status of people who have overstayed their visas, will continue until October 31.

The huge demand for advice and support continued on Thursday, with more crowds of people, each with their story to tell. As they waited, people expressed their hope they would be able to end their limbo.

Indraani Tah, 41, from Sri Lanka, has been working as a maid without a residency visa in Ajman for nearly a decade.

“I came to the country on a visit visa nine years ago and worked at a domestic workers’ recruitment office,” Ms Tah said. “I worked at a family house for one month and ran away after they deprived me of most of my salary. They did not even provide me with enough food.

“My employer was supposed to give me Dh800 but he gave me only Dh200. I ran away, leaving my belongings and passport behind and started my life with only Dh200.

“My life is really hard due to not having a passport. I came today with hope to sort out my situations and proceed with the amnesty measures.”

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Read more:

Hundreds turn out as UAE's three-month visa amnesty begins

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Editorial: Seize this opportunity to sort your visa issues

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Precious Albudefe, 28, from Nigeria, wants to live independently after she was abused by her boyfriend.

“I am living in the country without a residency visa. It’s the reason why I can’t get a job,” Ms Albudefe said.

She entered on a visit visa to start a business four years ago.

“I lost all my money on the business because it did not succeed,” Ms Albudefe said. “I got stuck in Ajman and it’s difficult to go back to my home country when I am broke.

“My boyfriend pays for all my expenses. He became abusive lately because I depend on him financially. One day, he pushed me roughly during an argument. He feels he has control over me.”

She said she has had enough of her situation and wants to return home.

“I am planning to go back to Nigeria until I secure a good job here,” Ms Albudefe said. “Maybe I will come back if I get a good job. The amnesty is a big relief for me as it gives me a chance to fix my visa problem and become an independent woman.”

Ghazi Ornek Akbar expressed his hope to go back to Afghanistan to see his children for the first time in four years.

“My visa has been expired for two and a half years. I started a new job in 2013 but I had problems with my boss,” said Mr Akbar, who works in the construction sector.

“I want to start my life again and see my three children. I called my family in the morning and told them that I will be going back to see them. They were very happy to hear this news.

“I am desperate as I do not have a job and my friends have to help me through my ­expenses.”

Mr Akbar shares a room with five other men in Deira.

Emmanuel Duwamease, 40, who lives in Sharjah, also wants to return to Nigeria.

“I came in 2012 and was promised I would be able to start a job immediately after my arrival,” Mr Duwamease said. “The man who promised me this took $5,000 from me before I arrived in the country.

“I have been miserable but the amnesty rule gives me a new hope and I am very thankful for the opportunity to get my life back again. I am planning to go home.”