7,500 overstaying Filipinos avail of UAE amnesty scheme
Dubai - The next batch of 200 overstaying Filipinos will leave Dubai on November 11.
About 7,500 overstaying Filipinos have availed of the UAE immigration amnesty programme since it started on August 1.
Out of the estimated total number, close to 3,000 decided to return to the Philippines while the rest opted to stay in the country to look for work or have been offered jobs, Philippine consul-general Paul Raymund Cortes said on Wednesday.
The Philippine government has also released around Dh7.8m to pay for the exit fees (Dh221 each), lifting of absconding cases (Dh521) and one-way airfare (Dh1,500) of the returning Filipinos, who were also given $100 (Dh365) each (excluding the minors) as "humble welfare assistance."
The money was sourced from the Philippine Assistance to Nationals fund pegged at Dh70M (P1B) for overseas Filipinos worldwide.
According to Cortes, the next batch of 200 overstaying Filipinos, who will be repatriated by the Philippine Consulate, will leave from Dubai on November 11 and the latest group of 90 Filipinos flew from Abu Dhabi on November 4.
Originally set to run for only three months, the amnesty progamme was extended for another month until December 1 to give undocumented residents the chance to go back to their respective home countries without paying fines or getting a ban, or to rectify their visa category.
Cortes has repeatedly urged his kababayans to avail of the UAE amnesty program before it finally ends on December 1.
He said: "They (overstaying Filipinos) now have less than three weeks left to rectify their status or choose to go home without paying fines."
"I urge them to come to the Consulate in Dubai (or the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi) so we can give them proper advice on what documents to bring what are the requirements to avail of the amnesty," Cortes added.
Cortes also reiterated that overstaying residents with pending police or civil cases due to loan defaults or dud cheques will have to clear their lawsuits first before they can avail of the amnesty program.
"The Philippine government will not pay for their loans but we can always help them in processing their documents. Our constant advice is for them to talk to the bank and ask for payment restructuring," he added.
"They should get out of this spiral problem where they take the risk of staying here without proper documents. They look for part-time jobs with meager compensation that could not sustain themselves and their family," Cortes noted.
"Better to get out of the trap by availing of the amnesty. Reunite with your families and start a new life back home," advised Cortes, adding: "that the UAE government has already warned of a crackdown of illegal residents after the lapse of the amnesty programme."
At the onset of the amnesty program, Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III called on his beleaguered kababayans (compatriots) to rectify their status in the UAE or seek voluntary repatriation to the Philippines. "Our government is ready to help you if you decide to go back home," he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate in Dubai have announced that they will be closed on November 18, in observance of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) birthday.
> 7,500 overstaying Filipinos have availed of the immigration amnesty
> 3,000 decided to return to the Philippines while the rest opted to stay in the country to look for work or have been offered jobs
> Dh7.8m the Philippine government has released to pay for exit fees, one-way tickets and welfare assistance for returning Filipinos
> 200 Filipinos to return home on November 11