x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE amnesty woos more than 61,000 illegals

More than 61,000 illegal residents benefited from an amnesty offered by the Government, the Ministry of Interior has announced.

Amnesty seekers lining up outside the Emirates ID office in Mussafah before the February 4 amnesty deadline. Delores Johnson / The National
Amnesty seekers lining up outside the Emirates ID office in Mussafah before the February 4 amnesty deadline. Delores Johnson / The National
ABU DHABI // Almost 62,000 illegal residents took advantage of the Government's visa amnesty, the Ministry of Interior announced yesterday.
During the two-month amnesty, which began on December 4, the ministry issued 61,826 exit permits to people of different nationalities, said Maj Gen Nasser Al Menhali, acting under secretary of federal naturalisation, residency and ports affairs.
He confirmed that 38,505 of them have left the country so far and the rest will leave in 10 to 15 days.
In a crackdown after the amnesty ended, the ministry has found and fined more than 1,000 people for residency and naturalisation breaches, Gen Al Menhali said.
Inspections will continue across the country in the coming days.
All of those arrested will be dealt with legally and deported, he said.
In the last amnesty, in 2007, 341,958 illegal residents across the country took part. Of those, 95,259 legalised their labour status and stayed in the UAE.
The most recent amnesty gave those living and working illegally in the UAE a chance to register and avoid fines, prosecution and deportation.
"Now no leniency will be tolerated to nab those who reside illegally and break the country's rules," Gen Al Menhali said.
"Already the ministry gave them a chance to leave the country peacefully."
Fines for overstaying visas, breaching immigration rules and living in the country illegally are back in force.
Fines are Dh100 a day for visa offences, and Dh25 a day for residency breaches.
The ministry has not made note of which nationalities benefited from the amnesty or the fines levied on them.
It said it had used all possible mass communication channels to inform illegal residents and spread messages of the amnesty.
Gen Al Menhali urged residents to report anyone living in the country illegally to police.
He also thanked the ministries, missions and charitable institutions that supported the amnesty programme and helped to make it such a success.
anwar@thenational.ae