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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

UAE visa amnesty: Indian embassy works with companies to offer job opportunities

Two companies have offered amnesty-seekers jobs so they can stay on in the Emirates

Workers wait to have their documents checked at Al Shahama immigration centre in Abu Dhabi. The National
Workers wait to have their documents checked at Al Shahama immigration centre in Abu Dhabi. The National

The Indian embassy has approached employers for help to provide visa amnesty seekers with transport, food packets and interview opportunities.

Two companies approached by the embassy have offered jobs for those who are seeking amnesty for having overstayed their visa and wish to continue working in the UAE.

“We have proactively reached out to some large Indian employers who are willing to do on the spot interviews and happy to employ those who meet the required skill set,” said the Indian ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Singh Suri.

“Without naming the companies, because I don’t want to embarrass anybody’s generosity, they have said they are willing to take on several hundred each after the interviews.”

The interviews are likely to take place at the embassy.

“The companies have indicated that they require people for different categories, ranging from cleaners to more skilled positions,” Mr Suri said

“Up until now, the numbers [of amnesty seekers] we have received are very small. Once we start getting data on those who desire to stay here, we will be more than happy to put them in touch with the potential employers.”

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The embassy will provide bus services from the amnesty registration centre in Shahama, a town on the western outskirts of Abu Dhabi, from Thursday. Services may be extended to pick-ups in areas where there is demand.

Companies have offered food packets to amnesty seekers at federal centres, where people can queue for hours before presenting their cases.

The Indian embassy have approached Air India to see if it can assist repatriations. “They are in touch with senior management,” Mr Suri said.

The three-month visa amnesty programme offers those without current residency visas the opportunity to either repatriate or remain in the UAE, if they can secure formal employment.

More than 10,000 in Dubai and the northern emirates have applied for assistance under the scheme, but a relatively low number have been Indian nationals. Only 186 emergency certificates have been issued so far.

Official figures show there are 3.1 million Indians living in the UAE, while other statistics put the figure at 3.2 million.

“If you can see the numbers you will realize it is an ongoing process and the embassy has been actively facilitating people in need,” said M. Rajamurugan, a consular at the Abu Dhabi embassy.

In pictures: Visa amnesty

Embassy and consular staff do weekly prison visits in Al Wathba, Sadar and Suweihan.

The Indian Community Welfare Fund provides food allowance, local transport and air tickets to deserving cases.

The embassy issued 566 emergency certificates between in the first six months of 2018. Of these, 483 were issued to those in prison.

The embassy directly approached employers to recover passports confiscated from employees and works with UAE authorities when necessary.

“Under UAE law, the passport is the property of the individual and not the sponsor, so if the sponsors are hanging on to the passports, that’s illegal,” said Sumathi Vasudev, acting consul-general of the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

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Officials from the embassy and the consulate have been at the amnesty centres in Shahama and Sharjah from 8am until 8pm. Additionally, there are two counters dedicated to amnesty cases at the embassy, two at the BLS office on Hamdan Street, one at the BLS office in Al Ain and volunteers in Al Ain and the Al Dhafra.

The public can check the embassy website and its Twitter account for regular updates on procedures for the UAE Amnesty Programme.

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