Col Khalid Yousef Bin Hudibah checking the application of one of the illegal residents, UAQ immigration centre.
Umm Al Quwain - An incredible financial burden was lifted.
A 22-year-old Bangladeshi man, who lived his entire life as an illegal resident in Umm Al Quwain, was among the amnesty-seekers in the emirate on the second day of the three-month initiative announced by the UAE.
The man, born in Umm Al Quwain 22 years ago, managed to get a waiver of Dh1.3 million in overstay fines. He became a legal resident as a result of the initiative, said Col Khalid Yousef bin Hudibah, executive director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Umm Al Quwain.
"He had his birth certificate and passport, but never had a residency visa issued," he said. "Only with the help of this amnesty programme was he able to amend his status and become a legal resident," Col bin Hudibah told Khaleej Times.
The centre processed 215 applications in the first two days of the amnesty, he said, adding that the centre is seeing more applicants than previous amnesties. "It is a priceless chance for anyone to go home without paying fines, or get a six-month visa to find a job."
The centre saw over 120 applicants on the first day, and around 95 on the second day until noon, he said.
"The centre is open from 8am to 8pm, during which 20 staff attend to applications on two shifts."
Lt-Col Humaid Fayaz Al Shamsi, director of illegals affairs department, told Khaleej Times that most of the applicants - some 75 to 80 per cent - are Asians.
"About 90 to 95 per cent of the processed applications are from absconders."
Captain Mohamed Rashid Jadah, manager of information and operations branch at the GDRFA, said some of the applications processed involved illegal residents for up to 13 years or more.
"They were supposed to pay hundreds of thousands of dirhams in fines, but the amnesty programmed helped them to amend their status without paying it."
He urged all applicants to have their passports of travel documents renewed so as not to waste their time. "Processing an application can take only five to 10 minutes if all the documents are in order."
Syrian national Mohammed Faruq Salamat told Khaleej Times that he accompanied his 50-year-old mother who has been illegally staying with him for three years.
"I am so happy that I will finally be able to legalise the stay of my mother here. The hefty fines were a big headache to me."
Twenty-two-year-old Bangladeshi national Shoel Abdulrahim said he arrived in the UAE in 2009. "I used to work as a camel shepherd, but an absconding report was filed against me in 2012," he said. "This amnesty will help me fix my situation and go home without paying any fines."