Thousands of Indians Apply for Passports as UAE Extends Visa Amnesty Scheme

About 1800 Indians living in the country have applied for short validity passport after the visa amnesty scheme was launched on Aug. 1.


Thousands of Indian residents in the United Arab Emirates have applied for short validity passport under the visa amnesty scheme which has been extended for a month.

According to a report in the National, so far, about 1800 Indians living in the country have applied for short validity passport after the visa amnesty scheme was launched on Aug. 1.

Under the visa amnesty program,  foreign workers who were overstaying their permits will be able to leave the country without paying any fine or undergoing jail term. At the same time, the scheme will also allow workers to look for a new job within six months. The scheme which was supposed to end on October 31, has now been extended for a month till Dec. 1, within which residents will have to apply for permits to remain in the country.

“A lot of people on expired passports have renewed their passport because of the six-month window for them to find a job,” Indian ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Suri was quoted as saying by the report.

According to the report, the Indian embassy has also issued 3,868 emergency certificates that will enable Indian citizens, who have lost their passports or other important credentials, to leave the country.

Suri noted that people who had to go through extreme difficult challenges after losing credential apply for emergency certificates.

“When we talk to people who show up asking for an emergency certificate, all they want is to go back home, you can see their desperation,” the National cited Suri as saying.

He added, “Some have been cheated by agents on the Indian side or cheated by employers on this side. This happens particularly in the unskilled and semi-skilled category with the blue-collar workers. The emergency certificate is strictly a one-way travel document. For those who have taken emergency certificates back home, they cannot get a visa issued on this.”

Brigadier Saeed Al Rashdi, acting director general of Foreign Affairs and Ports at the Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship said the decision to extend the amnesty program will aid people without legal papers to get a new start to their life, state news agency Wam noted.

He also said that the authority has established nine centers including in Al Aweer in Dubai and Al Shahama, Al Ain and Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, as well as in Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain to help with the visa amnesty proceedings, the publication reported.

According to him, after the grace period is over, the government will initiate intense search programs to prosecute illegal residents.

The Indian community in the UAE, numbering 2.6 million, constitutes 30 percent of the total population and is known to be the largest expatriate community in the country.

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