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Hundreds of expats in Dubai have so far taken advantage of the UAE’s amnesty for workers who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visa, according to UAE officials.
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As part of the amnesty programme - which lasts for three months – illegal residents are allowed to leave the country without fees or penalties, or apply for a six-month visa to allow them to search for employment.
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It excludes, however, those who are "blacklisted" or with legal cases pending.
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The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) revealed that 1,534 overstaying residents applied on the first day of amnesty programme at its centres in Al Aweer and Amer.
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Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Brigadier Khalaf Al Ghaith, GDRFA assistant director general of Follow-up Sector of Violators and Foreigners said the breakdown of figures showed that 416 applied for visa cancellation without changing their status, while 408 applied to renew their visa and 260 modified their residency status. A further 124 were absconding cases.
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The first Indian national to complete the amnesty procedure was 54-year old tile-cutter Girraj Prasad, who said he violated residency laws only because his company did not renew his visa.
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Many of those seeking to avail of the amnesty programme said they were pleased at how efficient the service was.
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Earlier this week, the GDRFA unveiled two large tents in which those seeking to normalise their residency status can go for help during the amnesty period.
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The centre – in Dubai’s Al Aweer area – will be able to handle 3,000 people and will be open until October 31. The centre will be open from 8am to 8pm each day, with 40 counters available with officers speaking a variety of languages.
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People seeking to regularise their visa status can also go to one of Dubai’s 43 Amer centres, where they will be able to process visa paperwork or clear absconding cases.