Overstayers rush to seek exit permits

DUBAI - A four-month amnesty for expaatriates living in the country illegally ends today, amid speculations and hopes among many illegals that it may be extended, and mqany others fearing that they may not be able to complete their exit procedures in time.



By Debasree S., Ramona Ruiz, Meraj Rizvi And Asma Ali Zain

Published: Wed 30 Apr 2003, 12:33 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:06 PM

Most of the embassies and consulates of Asian countries reported a heavy rush of last-minute amnesty seekers who queued up yesterday to grab the last opportunity to exit the country without paying any penaltiy.

India

The Indian consulate yesterday received the largest number of applications for emergency certificates. Serpentine queues were witnessed at the consulate. Consul (labour) I. P. Mohanan told Khaleej Times that around 500 applications had been received by the consulate yesterday, the largest number received on any day during the four-month amnesty. Till yesterday the consulate had issued 10,200 emergency certificates. About 4,000 of the passports returned by the Dubai and the Sharjah departments of Naturalisation and Residence had been claimed. The number of Indian nationals who had actually left the country since January reached about 20,000. Those with valid passports did not require an emergency certificate to exit the country.

Around 11,500 Indian passports had earlier been incorporated into two different databases which the amnesty seekers could pick up before leaving the country.

Mr Mohanan said that a new software used by the consulate to generate computerised emergency certificates had helped in streamlining procedures and cope with the rush.

A large number of volunteers from different Indian associations also helped in expediting the procedures.

He said that the response of the Indian community towards amnesty was very encouraging and that most of the illegals had taken the opportunity to leave the country. "There might still be some illegals who are lying around, but their number would be insignificant."

Pakistan

The Pakistan consulate yesterday processed and delivered about 1,200 outpasses while another 1,000 will be delivered today.

"The consulate staff are working round the clock and we hope to deliver the remaining outpasses today," said Pakistani Consul General Amanullah Larik.

The consulate is handling only those applications which were received before April 27.

"So far, the consulate has issued 10,700 outpasses and the number is expected to cross 12,000," the consul general said.

Mr Larik said that among the illegal Pakistanis who had pplied for amnesty, only 30 were women. "These women had entered the country legally a long time ago and overstayed their visas."

The consulate has also processed papers and issued outpasses to illegal Pakistanis without original documents e.g. birth certificate, driving licence, passport, domicile, identity card etc. for security purposes.

Philippines

A total of 1,729 Filipinos all over the UAE have so far availed themselves of the amnesty through the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi which had issued 1,371 travel documents to illegals.

In addition to travel documents, 358 passports that were handed over by the immigration authorities to the embassy have been claimed.

Jose Arthur Ampeso, consul general and charge d'affaires at the Philippine Embassy, told Khaleej Times that this number represented about one-third of the 1,000 passports which had been handed over to the embassy since the start of the amnesty period.

He advised those who were yet to avail themselves of the amnesty, to respect the laws and the country, "My only advice to these people is that once they've been warned, they should not expect the embassy to come to their rescue," Mr Ampeso said, adding that he expected not more than another 30 Filipinos to apply for amnesty on the last day.

Replying to a question on the possibility of an extension of the deadline, he said: "If there be an extension, well and good. But the way the amnesty programme is being conducted, there is absolutely no incentive for amnesty seekers to be lured into taking the programme."

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan consulate in Dubai said that the mission's records showed that 1,725 outpasses had been issued. Around 550 reclaimed passports from the authorities were handed over to Sri Lankan amnesty seekers from Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

Bandula Somasiri, Sri Lankan Consul General in Dubai, said that during the four-month amnesty period, the consulate had taken all measures to encourage Sri Lankans living illegally in the country to leave under the amnesty.

"We feel that most illegal Sri Lankans residing in the UAE have availed of the amnesty and have left the country."

The mission's office in Dubai yesterday did not witness a big rush with only 15 applications for outpasses being processed.

However, the consul general has assured that those still seeking outpasses could approach the consulate today and receive their outpasses and leave the country.

Bangladesh

The Bangladesh consulate reported that it had stopped receiving applications for emergency certificates and would make use of the last day of amnesty to clear the applications and issue outpasses to those who had applied till yesterday.

The acting consul general, Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, said that a total of 16,500 Bangladeshi illegals had availed themselves of the amnesty and left the country.


More news from