Time ends for illegals tomorrow

DUBAI — More than 286,000 workers complied with the amnesty time frame that began on June 3 with the extended deadline ending tomorrow, Ministry of Labour official said yesterday.

By Adel Arafah, Mary Nammour And Anwar Ahmed

Published: Fri 2 Nov 2007, 9:59 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:34 AM

Obeid Rashid Al Zahmi, Assistant Undersecretary in the Ministry of Labour said the deadline issued by the Cabinet for illegal workers to either leave the country or legalise their status, has achieved its objectives.

A large number of workers reacted positively to the order, adding that government bodies should use the “successful” experiment to boost cooperation and coordination among all related bodies, including the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour, municipalities, free zones, and chambers of commerce. He called for establishing a joint task force consisting of representatives of all concerned bodies to formulate a plan and a timetable for surprise inspections of various worksites and installations to track down illegal workers and bring them to justice.

He pointed out that inspectors face many risks because they lack protection during inspection missions, saying the inspectors should receive protection in order to be able to discharge their duties efficiently without fear or prejudice. He said one example of such risks to inspectors is when illegal workers team up to harm the inspectors. Al Zahmi said workers absconding from their sponsors continue to pose major security, social and economic challenges, adding that some of the absconders send letters to international organisations claiming to have been cheated or deprived of their rights.

“These complaints are tarnishing the good image of the country abroad,” he said.

Commenting on the amnesty which technically ends on Saturday, but all official processing of documents having ended in most emirates on Thursday, Colonel Nasser Al Manhali, Director of Department of Naturalisation and Residency in Abu Dhabi, warned violators of residency and labour laws and their sponsors against legal implications for not leaving the country during the period specified on the outpass by November 3.

“Non-departure will automatically drop the violator’s right to benefit from the amnesty and the grace period. Failing to do so, and if arrested, the person will be immediately referred to the court to face legal action along with his sponsor. The new stringent penalties will go into force right away after the grace period expires and specifically on Sunday,” he affirmed.

He added that the departments of naturalisation and residency all over the country will carry out wide-ranging inspections to apprehend violating domestic helpers and drivers and other groups on individuals’ sponsorship. The Ministry of Labour will also crack down on those working illegally in firms and commercial establishments.

“The Ministry of Interior will not extend the grace period. This is the last chance for violators to leave the country and breakers of the law and their sponsors will be held responsible,” he emphasised.

On complaints by some violators about shortage of air tickets as their outpasses end on Saturday, Al Manhali explained that the Ministry of Interior will not foot the bill of air fares of financially unable persons and their sponsors should bear the cost.

“Non-departure in the declared time will entail enforcement of the new law on both parties. It is better for the sponsor to pay for the travel expenses so as to allow his sponsored worker to leave the country within the specified time,” he maintained.

Speaking about special cases, Al Manhali said there will be no exceptions. Exceptions will only be considered in regard to air flight schedule. In this case, he said, the violator will have to pay a fine of Dh25 for each day of the delay in leaving the country if he has a residency visa which was cancelled during the grace period. Dh100 will be charged from the violator who entered the country on a visit visa.

Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director, Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), however, noted a low turnout of last-minute amnesty seekers at its Jumeirah-based Follow up and Investigation Section (FIS) yesterday. Some 400 amnesty seekers reportedly approached the FIS on Thursday to cancel their visas and get exit passes.

Recent statistics available with DNRD showed that around 157,000 exit passes were issued to illegals and more than 90,000 applications for regularisation of residency status were processed until October 8.

The amnesty was announced on June 2 until September 2. The two-month grace period until November 3 came as a relief to many illegals. “The amnesty was granted by the UAE Cabinet as an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of illegals to rectify their status without paying any fines,” Brig Al Marri said.

“We hope all illegals have benefited from the amnesty because as we have been repeatedly mentioning that sanctions and fines will be very severe after the deadline expires. Our teams are coordinating with the Ministry of Labour for inspections of companies to detect violations,” he pointed out.

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