Nobody is immune to 6-month ban: official

ABU DHABI — Nobody is immune to the six-month ban imposed on expatriate workers after cancellation of their residence visas, an official has said.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Sun 17 Apr 2005, 10:20 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:04 PM

“No one is exempted from the ban, regardless of their profession, qualification or nationality,” said Lt-Col Bakhit Saeed Al Suwaidi, the Deputy Director of Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residence Department (ANRD).

Lt-Col Suwaidi told Khaleej Times that an exemption could, however, be granted by the General Directorate of Naturalisation and Residency, the federal body in charge of immigration affairs in the country.

There is a lot of confusion regarding the ban issue, he said.

Many mistake between the two types of ban — the one-year ban imposed by the Labour Ministry on workers who break the labour laws or fail to abide by their employment contract, and the other one, which is for six months and is imposed, regardless of qualification, by the immigration authorities on workers who quit and leave for home, according to him.

The six-month ban only prevents an expatriate employee from obtaining an employment visa before the expiry of the six-month period from the date of visa cancellation, but they can still re-enter the country on a visit, transit or mission visa, he clarified.

Lt-Col Suwaidi said those seeking exemption should obtain the approval of their current sponsor. Their request will be assessed by a special committee. Many cases are accepted on humanitarian grounds, he noted.

These include foreign wives of UAE nationals, wives of expatriates sponsored by their husbands, and unmarried daughters of expatriates.

On the alleged ban on certain nationalities regarding issuance of visit visas, the official said there was no such ban.

“There is no discrimination between nationalities. There are some restrictions on certain countries, but this has nothing to do with a ban. It is to do with the child jockeys’ issue and this is a different story as decision has been issued in this regard,” he stated.

He said citizens of countries concerned with the jockeys’ issue had been granted a six-month grace period to issue separate passports to their dependents and apply for residence visa separately. Asked whether there were changes regarding the fines imposed on expatriates who overstay the period of their visit or residence visa, Lt-Col Suwaidi said the fine remains unchanged at Dh100 per day.

However, this could be overruled by the immigration court. “If the person was referred to the immigration court, the court can reduce the fine but basically it is Dh100 per day,” he explained.

He said the offender would be referred to the court only after exceeding 20 days from the expiry of the visa.

To prevent foreigners from overstaying, the immigration authorities keep any eye on those who enter the country on visit visa. This has contributed to a drop in the number of illegal immigrants, especially those staying beyond their visa duration.

Giving statistics, Lt-Col Suwaidi said a total of 2,102 violators were caught last year. Out of these, more than 500 were given a second chance to rectify their status after finding jobs.

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