Dubai-based company seeks amnesty for 500 workers

Dubai-based company seeks amnesty for 500 workers

Dubai - Management failed to renew visas for their workers on time due to financial difficulties.


Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Mon 6 Aug 2018, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Aug 2018, 3:45 PM

A Dubai-based company sought amnesty on Sunday for 500 of its workers with overstaying violations that amounted up to over Dh500,000.

Visiting Al Aweer immigration center to appeal for fine removal, the company's representative, Soufianne Nimr Mustafa said the management failed to renew visas for their workers on time due to financial difficulties.

The fines accumulated to Dh500,000, with the company management seeking to send some employees back home and renew visas for others.

But since the system allows companies to cancel visas for up to 100 workers, Mustafa was told to visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs headquarters in Al Jafiliya to apply for the 500 workers.

"The amnesty comes at the right time for businesses and people stuck with financial difficulties, but want to seek a better life. We cannot thank the government enough," said Mustafa.

Al Aweer Amnesty center in Dubai witnessed crowds of residents visiting on the fifth day of the three-month period that the UAE government has earlier announced to allow people to go home without paying overstaying fines.

Residents are also given the chance to modify their status and apply for a six-month temporary visa to search for a new job.

With most applicants being domestic workers and labourers, some violators were merely visitors who overstayed their visit visa.

One such case was Rodrigo Bernabeu from El Salvador who came to visit his family earlier this year but overstayed for three months.

After officials waived off Dh3,000 worth of fines, he was given an outpass to be validated after he visits Ajman authorities where his passport was first held.

"I wanted to leave tonight, but I was told I cannot travel before 10 days," said Bernabeu.

Other residents were still hesitant upon visiting the center with fears of receiving a ban. Egyptian national Amira Hussain who overstayed for eight months after her residency visa expired said she thought a lot before visiting the center.

"I was afraid they will ban me from coming back, but when I was informed that no ban will be issued, I decided to come forward and modify my status," said Hussain.

However, immigration officials referred those who want to modify their status to Amer centers. Those coming from war-torn countries can also apply for a one-year residency with an exemption from overstays fines through Amer center.

Al Aweer center is primarily for those who wish to waive off their fines and return home. Eight other centers are located throughout the other emirates to allow people with expired visas to leave or remain and look for a job.

The centers run from 8am to 8pm on weekdays.

Amnesty comes to rescue for single mothers and distressed domestic workers

A Filipina domestic worker, who spoke under anonymity, said she wanted to leave the country but her sponsor reported her and contributed to putting her name on the black list.

She worked for the sponsor for four years, and wanted to seek another job after the contract was over.

"He asked me to send him Dh10,000, and I didn't have that sum of money. When I refused, he asked for me to be put on a black list," said the worker, who's been a UAE resident for seven years. As a result, she overstayed for two years with fines accumulating to over Dh36,000.

While officials waived off the fines, they are still checking with the police to ensure that she has no criminal record before removing her name off the black list.

"I already have a job offer, so I will modify my status and start my life all over again," she said.

Palestinian-Syrian resident Rolla Saad said she lost her job in November, which caused her two daughters' visas to be cancelled.

"It's only in May when I found a new job, but I still couldn't pay for the fines that reached to over Dh25,000," said Saad, a single mother of two.

She said the visa amnesty came as a relief that saved her from further financial burden. "I wish all other countries would follow similar path of giving chances and making people's lives easier. I pray the UAE moves from strength to strength," said Saad.

Previous amnesties in 2007 and 2013 resulted in over 340,000 residents with expired visas taking advantage of the grace period. Officials are expecting a rise in the number of applicants over the next few weeks.

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