Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on expired visit visas and stranded in the UAE over canceled flights due to quarantine issues back home will now have more time to avoid fines for overstaying.
The UAE government, in a move widely been seen as a humanitarian gesture, has allowed OFWs, as well as other foreign visitors in the same predicament, another month-long grace period beyond the Aug. 11 deadline to renew their status or leave the country.
The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA), on Thursday, July 16 (July 17, Manila time), issued a new directive to this effect, saying in its Twitter account that the 30-day grace period originally set for expired visit visa holders to renew their visas or depart – of which counting started July 12 – to avoid fines has been rescinded to allow for a one-time, month-long extension.
“As per the last amendments, it has been decided to grant entry permits and visit visa holders inside the country, a period of one month (30 days) to leave the country. The grace period is renewable one time by the authority. After which, the entry permit or visit visa holder needs to exit the country,” ICA said.
Fines for overstayers is 200 dirham on the first day and 100 dirham for the succeeding days, according to immigration policies.
In light of this development, Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes asked OFWs to keep monitoring the situation and be guided accordingly.
“I urge my kababayans to keep abreast of developments in policies as set by the ICA and ensure that they abide by host country regulations on validity of their current visas,” he said.
Earlier this month, the UAE government reversed visa policy changes announced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have allowed those with visit and residency visas as well as national IDs that had expired in March 2020 to extend their stay till December 31.
Instead, it gave a one-month grace period for visit visa holders and up to 3 months for residency visa holders, including those who have remained outside the UAE.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) rolled out a repatriation program for OFWs. In the UAE, approximately 500 have been flown home.
Cortes said visit visa holders are a priority. Recently, he said over 3,000 OFWs heavily impacted by COVID-19’s economic effects have sought help from the Philippine Consulate for them to be repatriated.
There were also over 1,000 OFWs, a mix of those terminated from work and those in the UAE on expired visit visas, who have remained stranded because of cancelled flight bookings. – Rappler.com