Last updated on 31 July 2018
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, ICA, has called on embassies and diplomatic missions accredited to the UAE to cooperate in implementing the “Protect Yourself By Modifying Your Status” initiative, which it will launch on 1st August and will end in October.
In June, the UAE Cabinet adopted a resolution granting nationals of countries facing war and natural disasters a one-year stay permit, in solidarity with the people of affected nations and to offer them a chance to improve their living conditions until they are ready to return to their home countries.
The new decision will see nationals of affected countries granted an extendable one-year permit – regardless of the conditions of their visa – from 1st August to 31st October, 2018, as well as an exemption from any imposed fines. In the same context, the Cabinet adopted a decision to grant people overstaying their visa a chance to leave the country voluntarily without a “no entry” passport stamp.
It made this statement during a meeting that was held between Brigadier Saeed Rakan Al Rashidi, Acting Director-General of the Foreigners Affairs and Ports Department at ICA, and representatives of embassies and diplomatic missions, at the authority’s headquarters in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, to explain the initiative’s details, goals and its executive mechanism,with the attendance of Mohammed Al Kattam, Director of the Foreigners Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The initiative will enable those who violate the country’s residency laws to modify their status or leave the country voluntarily without bearing any legal consequences or payment of any penalties.
The authority called on embassies to facilitate procedures for their affected nationals, help them complete their transactions, and encourage them to benefit from the initiative, which will consider their individual circumstances and enable them to modify their status, live with comfort, and benefit from available services.
Brigadier Al Rashidi also called on all relevant embassies to communicate with their nationals, encourage those who violated residency laws to benefit from this opportunity, explain its goals and advantages, and urge them to cooperate with the authority.
Al Rashidi stressed that the initiative’s main goal is to solve the issues of every violator, whether they are residents, visitors or defaulted families and regardless of their nationality, through removing financial fines, exempting them from legal punishments, and giving them the opportunity to search for work or leave the country with dignity.
He added the authority will give violators several options, which include modifying their status at a cost of AED500, exempting them from fines and other legal punishments, allowing them to stay in the country, providing work opportunities, enabling them to leave the country while exempting them from all fines, and giving them permission to return to the country under a new visa at any time, as well as applying for temporary residency for six months without the need for a sponsor.
Those seeking the last option must obtain a medical clearance certificate and inform the authority to benefit from the initiative and register for the “Virtual Work Market,” which will enable them to look for work, he further added while noting that business owners and employment agencies can interact, under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, to end employment contracts.
Al Rashidi explained that those who receive temporary residency for six months will not be allowed to work, unless they obtain legal employment and transfer their residency to a new sponsor while those who are unable to obtain work will have to leave the country before this period is over if they do not want to lose their privileges provided by the initiative, or if they want to avoid any resulting legal consequences.
While answering a question about those who have pending cases between them and their sponsors, Al Rashidi affirmed that the authority will renew their residency until their cases are settled. It will also renew the residency of those convicted and are serving their sentences in correctional and rehabilitation centres until their sentences are completed, and the authority will study the individual cases of those with criminal records, he added.
Regarding violators who do not have documents, Brigadier Al Rashidi called on their embassies to issue temporary travel documents so they can benefit from the initiative while explaining that they must complete the process within one week or leave the country. He further added that the authority will not issues residency visas, including temporary residency visas, without a passport that meets the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO.
Regarding the topic of nationals of countries that are suffering from disasters or wars, Al Rashidi affirmed that the UAE will grant them residency for one year and completely exempt them from residency conditions that apply to violators.
He stressed that the procedures related to this category are only available through the authority’s e-channels, and those covered will not need to follow up at the authority’s centres that serve violators while noting they will not be allowed to work unless they are sponsored by an employer.
Al Rashidi highlighted the decisions of the UAE Cabinet in May and June, which include the launch of an integrated system for entry visas to attract talents, as well as the adoption of a new legislation to review the current’s residency system, with the aim of assisting those who wish to reside in the country and are searching for work.
He affirmed that ICA has provided all the means to facilitate the procedures for those wishing to benefit from the initiative in order to achieve the ultimate goal of its launch, which is to reach “UAE free of violators”.
As for the centers of receiving the violators who wish to benefit from the initiative, Brigadier Al Rashidi explained that ICA has established nine centers nationwide that include all the necessary preparations to receive violators with ease and help them comfortably finish their transactions. There is a center in Al Shahama – Abu Dhabi and a center in Al Aweer area in Dubai. Reception centers have been established in Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Qaiwain, Al Ain, Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi annexed to Customer Happiness Centers related to General Directorate of Foreigners and Ports.
He said that the reception centers will operate from 8 am to 8 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and a call center will be available to receive questions and queries from the public via the toll free (80080), which will be available 24 hours a day.