Industry Desk: Over 40,000 Bangladeshis living illegally at the United Arab Emirates have been brought under general amnesty, Bangladesh’s ambassador to the UAE has said. These applications were submitted over a period of five months, said Ambassador Muhammad Imran.
The UAE first announced general amnesty for illegal foreigners for three months between Aug 1 and Oct 31, allowing illegal immigrants from different countries to either validate their stay or depart the country without paying fines or serving jail time.
The government later agreed to extend the grace period for another two months after the Bangladesh ambassador explained to the authorities that it may not be possible to process passports for such large groups of people within the three-month period.
The revised term of the amnesty expires on Dec 31.
It is estimated that illegals make up 10 per cent of the Bangladeshi workforce in UAE. The majority travelled to the oil-rich nation on valid documents but fell out of the system due to various circumstances.
“In a way the number of illegal Bangladeshis in the UAE is more than the total number of expatriates from countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Philippines,” said Ambassador Imran.
On the first day of the general amnesty, up to three thousand Bangladeshi expatriates queued up outside the Bangladesh Embassy in Abu Dhabi. They were hoping to resolve various problems. The Office of the Consulate General of Bangladesh in Dubai received double that number of expatriates.
The embassy in Abu Dhabi struggled to cope with the pressures of serving crowds of expatriates and also continue regular consular services. Officials worked for 10 to 12 hours every day, including holidays, to resolve the issues brought forth by the illegal immigrants.
In the past five months, over 35,000 illegal expatriates were issued Machine Readable Passports from Abu Dhabi embassy and Dubai consulate while around five to six thousand expatriates were granted outpasses to return to Bangladesh, Ambassador Imran told.
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