Expatriates residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) whose visas have expired can now avail a two-month amnesty that allows them either to regularise their papers or leave the country without paying a penalty.

Under an amnesty schedule announced on Tuesday, the residentswhose stay has become illegal because they have overstayed their visa duration, can visit residency departments in the UAE, where they will be issued out-passes that will allow them to leave the country, without incurring a penalty.

Others who wish to regularise their visas can do so by paying the fines for the period that they have overstayed. The amnesty, starting from December 4, can be availed till February 3, 2013.

Major General Nasser Awadi al-Menhali, Assistant Undersecretary for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs, said at a news conference that the amnesty will cover only those who have expired visit or resident visas, and not infiltrators, who will continue to be treated as criminal offenders.

It will also cover those illegally residing immigrants under arrest, so long as they do not have any pending cases against them. “Illegal foreigners will be issued out-passes after any pending cases or dues are settled,” said General al-Menhali.

Explaining in detail the workings of the scheme, General al-Menhali said that the individuals who have overstayed can approach the authorities with their passports and air tickets. After that, they will be issued out-passes, a waiver on their fines, and permission to leave the country.

“This is the fourth amnesty scheme and we are hopeful, illegal residents who did not avail of the previous schemes will do so this time,” he said.

Around s 342,000 illegal immigrants had availed the last amnesty that was declared in 2007. Nearly 175,000 had then left the country, while 95,000 legalised their status.

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