45,000 Indians staying illegally in UAE will return: Ravi

As many as 45,000 Indians staying illegally in United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expected to seek amnesty announced by the Gulf country, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has said.

The two-month amnesty announced by the UAE government asking illegal residents to either leave the country without penalty or regularise their visas will start today and will end on February 3.

The Minister in a letter written to various state Chief Ministers has also requested them to make provisions for free air tickets to poor and deserving workers from respective states held up in UAE.

"In the last amnesty in 2007, approximately 40,000 Indians exited UAE based on the ECs issued by the (Indian) mission. As per our mission estimate, around 45,000 Indian staying illegally in UAE will seek amnesty as and when it is announced," Ravi said in his letter.

As most of the illegal immigrants are poor and low paid workers they will not be able to meet the cost of air travel to India and the Indian Community Welfare Fund created by the ministry will not be sufficient top meet the demand, the Minister said.

"I request you (chief ministers) also to make provision for free air tickets to needy and deserving workers from your state who is permitted to leave UAE under the amnesty scheme.I am expecting appositive response from you," the minister requested in his letter.

According to the UAE government, the amnesty will apply only to those who have overstayed their visit or resident visas in the UAE and not infiltrators, who would be treated like criminals.

Illegal residents, who have overstayed can visit residency departments across the UAE to obtain out passes and leave the country without penalties. They can also regularise their visas after paying fines between December 4 and February 3.

The country had announced a similar amnesty in 2007 during which 342,000 illegal immigrants either legalised their stay or left the country. Around 300,000 illegal immigrants left the country under another amnesty, which ran between January and April, 2002.

Similarly in 1996, about 200,000 illegal residents left the country under a six-month long amnesty.

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