DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates has begun a three-month visa amnesty program, hoping to resolve a Catch-22 for foreign workers who are fined daily for overstaying their permits but prevented from leaving until they pay the penalties.
The government isn’t releasing specific numbers, but says it expects “thousands” of people, primarily laborers from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, to take advantage of the amnesty launched Wednesday.
It’s the fifth general amnesty since 1996. More than 60,000 people took advantage of the last one, in 2013.
Under the program, all fines for overstaying visas will be forgiven and people will be allowed to return to the UAE with new visas without preconditions — a nod to the country’s need for foreign workers.