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25 April 2024

Philippines urges overstaying or absconding Filipinos to avail of UAE amnesty

By Shuchita Kapur

Labour officials in the Philippines are encouraging those of their citizens straying illegally in the UAE to take advantage of the country’s ongoing amnesty and exit it without having to pay fines or face a jail term.

The UAE has launched an amnesty programme that runs from December 4, 2012 to February 4, 2013, and allows all overstaying or absconding residents in the country to exit without facing penalty, prison or the possibility of a re-entry ban.

Taking advantage of the amnesty programme, some Filipina maids, who work illegally in Dubai, are now planning to return home. “I want to go back to my family and will go to the consulate at the end of this months after taking my salary from the houses that I work in as a part-time maid,” said a Filipina maid in New Dubai on the condition of anonymity.

She and her three other friends, who live in Satwa and commute to the Emirates Living area, plan to apply for amnesty in a week’s time. “We charge Dh25 per hour and have saved enough to go back home without landing into trouble. I plan to come back and stay legally after one year,” she added.

There are an estimated 209,385 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE.

A January 2, 2013, press release from the Philippines’ Department of Labour and Employment (Dole) quotes Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Secretary of Labour and Employment, urging OFWs in the UAE who are overstaying their visas – and therefore are in the UAE illegally – to leave the country without penalty, or regularise their visas.

“Illegal UAE residents who had overstayed their visas can obtain exit passes and leave the country without penalties, or regularise their visas after payment of fines,” Baldoz advised receiving a report of Philippine Labour Attaché to Abu Dhabi Nasser B. Munder saying the Abu Dhabi government has issued a new, two-month amnesty to illegal residents effective December 4, 2012.

In his report, Labour Attaché Munder said illegal residents should visit residency departments across UAE to obtain exit visas or outpasses and leave the country without penalty.

The last time the UAE has an amnesty for illegal residents was in 2007 when 341,958 illegal residents of various nationalities availed of the amnesty and 95,000 illegal workers, also of various nationalities, legalised their status.

Gerry Suliguin, the Philippines’ Vice-Consul to the UAE, has been quoted earlier saying that illegally staying Filipinos who do not avail of the amnesty will face the full force of the law. “If they (are) caught after February 4, they will be facing cases in accordance with the UAE laws and will be fined and penalised,” Suliguin was quoted by local media.