‘Legitimate’ visa violators in UAE are being given a second chance

Last year, the GDRFA processed 19,000 humanitarian cases of which 17,000 were accepted.

Visa violators unable to take action under urgent conditions are given second chances as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) processes humanitarian requests, top officials said.

Just this year, officials processed 25,000 humanitarian requests of visa violators so far, up from 12,000 received last year.

The fine committee filters out requests, then waives off or reduces fines for cases that meet certain conditions. Officials said that approximately 60 per cent of requests are rejected.

One of the cases pending with GDRFA for consideration is that of a Pakistani father of seven who has Dh350,000 worth of visa violations. Jaber Ali suffers from seizures and his treatment costs Dh700 a month. The passport of each of his children has a fine of Dh50,000.

Mohammed Al Marri, director of GDRFA, noted that building trust with residents is the main factor behind the increase of humanitarian requests this year compared to 2016.

“No one is above the law, but sometimes there are circumstances that happen out of people’s control that we must listen to and reconsider,” said Al Marri as he gave the media a tour around a temporary tent that has been added to the Violators and Foreigners Follow up Sector in Al Aweer two months ago to process the overflow of requests.

“We welcome and appreciate everyone’s presence in Dubai and we are ready to take into consideration any emergencies that may have resulted in violations,” noted Al Marri. He added that looking into humanitarian cases allows reluctant violators to come forward.

If humanitarian pleas meet certain conditions, he said, fines can be altered or reduced. These conditions, however, were not revealed.

“Medical conditions, accidents or emergencies that can result in visa violations are taken into consideration,” said Al Marri.

Colonel Khalaf Ahmad Al Gaith, assistant to the general director for follow-up on violators and foreigners at the GDRFA, said violators can apply for humanitarian requests online or visit the location at Al Aweer open from 10.30am to 2.30pm.

“People whose passports are seized by the police or courts have the right to request judges or prosecutors to process their visas,” said Al Gaith.

“Cases of illegals who have reasons for the delay of renewing their visas are looked at as a humanitarian case. However, those who have no reasons are slapped with fines or referred to judicial authorities,” he noted.

Humanitarian cases take about a week to process, he said.

Visa exceptions for humanitarian cases

Besides addressing violation, the GDRFA also takes into consideration issuing visas and sponsorship for people under urgent circumstances.

“Sometimes residents request to sponsor parents or siblings who live in a country hit by wars or natural disasters. Such humanitarian cases are addressed and visas are granted even if some of the criteria such as applicable salaries or residence isn’t met,” said Captain Khalid Al Hamadi, head of humanitarian cases section for follow-up on violators and foreigners.

This year, 11,000 visa humanitarian cases were received until October, among which 9,000 were approved. Last year, the GDRFA processed 19,000 humanitarian cases of which 17,000 were accepted. Approximately 80 per cent of requests are approved, according to officials.

“If the resident’s parents are old or suffer from a medical condition, we also consider such cases,” said Al Hamadi.

He added decisions are taken after the committee reviews applications.



Father with Dh350,000 worth of visa violations

One of the location’s visitors was Pakistani Jaber Ali, 36, from Lahore, who has a family of eight, and is requesting for a humanitarian consideration. Working at a cargo company while suffering from seizures, his children — five boys and two girls — had their visas expire a year and a half ago. “My treatment costs Dh700 a month and now I have Dh50,000 fine piled up on each of the seven passports,” said Ali. “I have no home in Pakistan and I’m better off here in the UAE with my wife and children,” said Ali who’s been a UAE resident for the past seven years. He said he hopes the committee would consider his case and reduce his piled up fines.

Financial constraints stopped Algerian family from paying fines

It was the second time for Algerian Um Anis to seek a humanitarian request. Her visa, along with her four children, has expired since March 2017 when her husband, the sponsor, lost his job. “When my husband renewed his visa in May, we didn’t get our visas renewed. We had already registered the children- two in schools and the other two in universities,” said Um Anis, who’s been in the country for the last 11 years. Financial constraints stopped the family from paying the fines, as they relied on the father’s low salary to pay for their children’s education and rent. “I applied for a humanitarian case the first time but still couldn’t pay because we already had financial commitments. We hope our second application will help resolve our issue,” she said.


Serving with compassion

The UAE government’s rigorous implementation of laws has allowed it to be featured among some of the safest places in the world. The idea is to deter crime, so punishments are severe. But there is room for compassion, too. A lot of visa violators have been given a second chance, which reveals the humane side of authorities. They are strict yet magnanimous. To err is human, they understand. But people should not take undue advantage.

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