DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Fifty Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates have been issued exit permits at the Al Aweer Immigration Center in Dubai on the first day, August 1, of the three-month amnesty program offered by the UAE Government.
This was disclosed by Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes of the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. Cortes said that more than 1,000 Filipinos visited the consulate to seek assistance on how they can avail of the amnesty program.
The amnesty program is being offered by the UAE Government to individuals living in the country illegally by allowing them to leave without paying fines or facing jail term until October 31 or to regularize their status by providing them temporary visa for a period of six months to search for a job.
Those who would like to go back to their homeland can get an exit permit or emergency certificate, which is valid for 21 days that will be issued by immigration personnel. According to the guidelines, amnesty seekers should already have an air ticket dated 10 days after submitting their applications.
“The Philippine Government will pay for the exit fees, absconding fees, and will provide the one-way plane ticket but not for those who opt to stay and look for a job,” Cortes said.
Those with police records and court cases will not be eligible for amnesty unless they resolve their cases before the program ends.
The amnesty applications are being processed at special designated centers in Al Aweer in Dubai and in Shahama, Al Ain and Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi. The main immigration offices in the Northern Emirates are also accepting applications.
“I’m very happy with the UAE Government’s offer to change our illegal status because I have overstayed for more than three years and I have been doing part time jobs only to survive. I have been living in fear of being caught but I have to work to provide for my family back in the Philippines,” explained Lito Estillore who was at the Philippine Consulate.
According to Cortes, 10,000 Filipinos are estimated to be staying illegally in the UAE. He added that during the last amnesty program in 2012 to 2013, there were 2,600 Filipinos out of the 61,826 illegal residents who availed of the program.
The UAE Government this year is giving another chance to overstayers of various nationalities by providing a temporary six-month visa to stay and find a job.
“We are not sure that the three-month period will be extended so the earlier you are able to come up with your requirements, the earlier the consulate can assist you on what strategies to take in the processing of your documents. The earlier you could do it, the earlier you can go home and hopefully have a happy reunion with your family,” Cortes said.
The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi under Chargé d' Affaires Rowena Pangilinan-Daquipil is also extending similar assistance to Abu Dhabi-issued visa holders who are already staying illegally in the emirate.