88% of illegal expats availed of the amnesty and were allowed to leave the UAE without paying any fines or facing prosecution
Fines worth millions of dirhams were waived for thousands of people including families and children during the UAE’s five-month-long amnesty, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said on Tuesday.
While the authority has not released exact figures revealing the total amount of fines waived, it said the 'Protect Yourself by Changing Your Status' amnesty saw a response rate of over 88%.
It had started on August 1 and ended on December 31 after two months of extensions, allowing illegal expats to return to their home countries without paying any fines or facing prosecution.
It also allowed them to regularise their residency status to remain in the UAE, with some being given a six months visa to allow them to search for jobs. However, the authority also warned the visa holders to refrain from working until they find a new sponsor onto whom their visa is transferred.
“The initiative continued for five months and successfully accomplished its goals attracting huge number of illegals who wished to benefit from it,” said Saeed Rakan Al Rashedi, Acting Director General for Foreigners Affairs and Ports at the authority.
“It provided them opportunities to regularise their residency status to stay in the country or leave without paying fines and getting bans. It all exceeded their expectations and hopes,” he added.
Al Rashedi said the authority will continue to increase awareness among expats on the negative impacts of fleeing from sponsors and breaking residency rules.
He said also thanks diplomatic missions in the UAE for their contribution in facilitating the regularisation of the expats’ status or their return home.
The authority had opened nine centres across the country to receive a maximum number of amnesty seekers.
UAE residents and companies were also urged to avoid sheltering or employing illegal expats in order to prevent facing fines and prosecution.
Those remaining in the country illegally following the end of the amnesty period would face fines, jail time and deportation, the authority said.