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UAE amnesty scheme is relief for illegal workers

Jul 05, 2007 12:07 AM IST India India

Dubai/ Chennai: Thousands of Indians working illegally in the UAE are on their way home.

They are taking advantage of a three-month amnesty scheme of the UAE government allowing them to regularise their status or to leave the country without penalty.

Says an Indian worker in Dubai, “If you have less money, then the problems are more. We can't even walk freely on the roads. They can arrest us.”

Hussain's Dubai dream is over. He says he has lost his money, his papers and his job after he was declared an illegal immigrant. But a three-month amnesty scheme by the UAE government is a relief of sorts.

But what came as a rude shock to Hussain and thousands like him was the Indian government's condition that they return to only six notified airports.

“A person from Andhra would prefer to go to Hyderabad. Instead, he has been sent to Mumbai,” says volunteer, Indian Consulate, Dubai, Geetha Krishnan.

The MEA has since removed that restriction allowing returning immigrants access to all airports in the country.

But it is advising returning immigrants to inform the local Indian consulates before they leave the UAE.

“Initially we went with only the airports in metros because they had the necessary facilities to verify the arriving Indians. But then we insisted with the home ministry and the bureau of immigration to make arrangements for all airports in India,” says MoS Extenal Affairs, E Ahamed.

The minister says 12,000 people have applied for immigration certificates and that the Indian government has 20,000 passports in its custody given to them by UAE employers of fleeing Indian workers.

Returning immigrants can contact the ministry for re-claiming their passports. Also, the government will help regularise the status of those who are qualified and wish to return to UAE to work.