As part of the new visa rules they introduced lately, the UAE Cabinet will have an amnesty program for those who have overstayed their visas. It falls under the “Protect Yourself by Modifying Your Status” initiative of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), wherein visa violators would have the chance to leave the country without paying fines for overstaying.
The amnesty program comes along with other initiatives, which include: 48-hour transit visas for travellers, 6-month temporary visas for job seekers, and 1-year visas for widows, divorcees, and people from war-torn countries. All of these are bound to make the UAE more “visa friendly” for tourists, aspiring workers, and residents alike.
Amnesty Program for Visa Violators in the UAE
Back in 2013, Gulf News reported about a similar amnesty program that benefited 60,000 people. This year, visa violators will again have the chance to exit the country or correct their status, starting from August 1 to October 31, 2018.
Fast Facts about the Amnesty Program
Here are the highlights of the “Protect Yourself by Modifying Your Status” initiative:
- Voluntary departure cases would be exempted from fines.
- Those paying for their flight tickets would be allowed to leave the UAE without a “No Entry” stamp on their passports.
- For a minimal fee, there is the possibility of visa transfer and exemption from fines.
- Those who entered the country illegally would be allowed to leave the UAE with “No Entry” stamp valid for 2 years.
- The program runs from August 1 to October 31, 2018. All applications must be made during this “grace period.”
Frequently Asked Questions
To answer your questions about the amnesty, here is a quick run-through of the program:
Who is affected by the amnesty program?
All people who are staying illegally in the UAE (i.e. those who have entered illegally and those who have overstayed).
When is the date of the amnesty program?
The program runs from August 1 to October 31, 2018.
What should I do if I overstayed my visa?
Under the amnesty program, you have 2 options:
- Stay in the UAE. Have your visa corrected and you can stay in the country without having to pay any fines.
- Exit the UAE. You will NOT get a “No Entry” stamp on your passport if you pay for your own flight ticket. This way, you can still return to the UAE with a valid visa as a tourist, visitor, or worker.
What should I do if I entered the UAE illegally?
As long as you show a valid return ticket, you can leave the country WITH a “No Entry” stamp for 2 years. This means that you not be allowed to enter the UAE for 2 years.
On the other hand, you can apply for a one-year visa if you come from a war-torn country. This is possible even if you entered the UAE illegally.
Will I get an immigration ban if I join the amnesty program?
If you pay for your own flight ticket, you will not get an immigration ban. However, if you entered the UAE illegally with a “No Entry” stamp on your passport, you will get a ban.
Will I be fined?
You will not get a fine, but you will have to pay fees when changing your visa status.
To change my visa status, do I need to leave the country?
No. For a fee, you can change your visa status within the UAE.
If I leave, can I come back to the UAE again?
If you overstayed, yes, you can come back to the UAE with another valid visa.
If you entered illegally, you can come back after 2 years since you would have a “No Entry” stamp on your passport.
Video: UAE’s Amnesty Program
Here is a summary video about the program, for those who have overstayed or entered the UAE illegally:
A Chance to Exit Voluntarily or Change Visa Status
It’s not often that the UAE government offers an amnesty program, so this is a great opportunity for those who are staying illegally. This is the chance for them to come clean and make a “graceful exit” or correct their visa status.
NOTE: The above details are presented for information-sharing purposes only. To know the latest details, we recommend that you check with the official government portal. In any case, we hope that this post has been helpful and able to answer some of your questions. Good luck!