Tuesday , September 28 2021

7,500 overstaying Philippines utilizing UAE amnesty scheme

The next batch of 200 too many Filipinos will leave Dubai on November 11.

About 7,500 overstayed Filipinos who have used the UAE immigration amnesty program since it began on August 1.

Of the estimated total, nearly 3,000 decided to return to the Philippines while the rest chose to stay in the country to look for work or were offered jobs, Consul General of the Philippines Paul Raymund Cortes said on Wednesday.

The Philippine government has also released around Dh7.8m to pay for the exit fee (Dh221 each), revocation of escape cases (Dh521) and tickets for one-way aircraft (Dh1,500) from returning Filipinos, who were also given $ 100 (Dh365) each (excluding minors) as "humble welfare assistance."

The money is sourced from the Philippine Assistance for Nation fund which is pegged at the Dh70M (P1B) for Filipinos abroad throughout the world.

According to Cortes, the next batch of 200 overstaying Philippines, which will be repatriated by the Philippine Consulate, will depart from Dubai on November 11 and the last group of 90 Filipinos fly from Abu Dhabi on November 4.

Initially set to run for only three months, the amnesty program was extended for one more month until December 1 to give undocumented residents the opportunity to return to their home countries without paying fines or getting banned, or to improve their visa categories.

Cortes has repeatedly urged his package to take advantage of the UAE amnesty program before finally ending on December 1.

He said: "They (overstaying Filipinos) now have less than three weeks left to improve 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 that we can give them the right advice on what documents bring the conditions for utilizing amnesty," Cortes said.

Cortes also reiterated that residents who live too much with delayed police or civil cases because of default loans or blank checks must remove their lawsuits before they can take advantage of the amnesty program.

"The Philippine government will not pay their loans but we can always help them in processing their documents. Our ongoing advice is that they talk to the bank and request a restructuring of payments," he added.

"They have to get out of this spiral problem where they risk living here without proper documents. They are looking for part-time jobs with little compensation that cannot defend themselves and their families," Cortes said.

"It is better to get out of the trap by utilizing amnesty. Reunite with your family and start a new life back home," advises Cortes, adding: "that the UAE government has warned about illegal crackdowns after the interval of the amnesty program."

At the start of the amnesty program, Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III requested besieged authorities (their colleagues) to improve their status in the UAE or seek voluntary repatriation to the Philippines. "Our government is ready to help you if you decide to go home," he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Philippine Consulate in Dubai have announced that they will close on November 18, to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Amnesty number

> 7,500 Filipinos who are too alive have taken advantage of the immigration amnesty

> 3,000 decided to return to the Philippines while the rest chose to stay in the country to find work or be offered jobs

> Dh7.8m the Philippine government has released to pay for exits, one-way tickets and welfare assistance to return Filipinos

> 200 Filipinos will return home on November 11

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Angel Tesorero

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