The huge turnout for a Dubai government event on Saturday offering advice to people who have overstayed their visas highlighted how pressing a concern residency status is for many in the emirate.
The awareness scheme, titled “A Home For All”, was scheduled to run for three days at City Centre Deira, from 10am until 10pm.
But organisers had to postpone the information session on its opening day after the venue reached capacity by 1pm, with large crowds gathering to seek support.
An alternative venue is being sought to conclude the campaign, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) said.
It was set up to provide help to residents and visitors with lapsed visas about the steps they need to take to remain in the Emirates and find work legally.
A senior GDRFA official said authorities were keen to help people understand the correct procedures to be followed and find solutions to resolve overstay cases.
“It is an awareness campaign and our staff will help people with information about procedures to handle overstay problems,” the spokesman told The National.
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“We have orders from our leadership to help everyone. We have many ways to solve the overstay problem.”
He described it as an opportunity for people to seek assistance directly from government officials.
Most expatriates already living or working in the UAE have a two or three-year visa stamped into their passport — now replaced with the Emirates ID.
In April 2022, visa changes were introduced by the UAE Cabinet and more categories added. This includes an expansion of the golden visas and new green visas, with several aimed at self-employed people and business owners.
The new rules came into effect in September
How to get help
Information and guidance is available around the clock through the Amer centres, which offer visa and immigration services, or by calling 8005111.
People can also use a video conference service on the GDRFA Dubai website and have their queries addressed by an official.
It outlines seven key rules and penalties that apply to residents and visitors who remain in the UAE beyond the time their residency or visit visa permits.
How much is the overstay fine?
The penalty has been standardised at Dh50 per day for tourists or residents who overstay their visas.
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security announced revisions in October 2022 of the fine that must be paid by people whose visas had expired.
Tourists who overstay will pay a fine of Dh50 per day instead of Dh100.
Residency permit holders who live in the country beyond their visa validity must pay Dh50 or double the earlier amount of Dh25.
What is the grace period?
Residency visa holders have a six-month grace period and those on visit visas have one month to leave without fines being levied.
Under the visa programme that came into effect on October 3, residency visa holders are given six months to leave the country or change their status by finding a job once their visa expires or is cancelled.
Will fines be reduced or waived?
Residents who cross the six-month grace period or have an overstay fine of Dh3,500 can request a waiver or reduction of charges.
Visit visa holders and residents who remain in the UAE past the grace period could be arrested for staying in the country illegally.
Where can I check for information?
People can get information about tourist and resident overstay fines on the GDRFA website by checking the inquiry service section to verify fines.
Identity card and passport information is required to secure information on fines.
How can I pay the fine?
People can pay the penalty at the airport, port, immigration offices, Amer offices or the government immigration and visa application offices and typing centres.
A reduction or waiver is possible if there is a genuine reason, such as the death of a sponsor, health conditions, a delay in renewing a passport or legal reasons.
Applications can be made for visa fine waivers at the Amer centre.
Can I work on any visa other than an employment visa?
In some cases, women sponsored by their husbands or fathers may be permitted to work while remaining on a dependent visa, according to GDRFA information.
Students who have visas linked to a Dubai university can work as an intern.
Could I be deported for overstaying my visa?
A person who overstays by a considerable period of time can be deported and hit with a travel ban, according to UAE immigration laws.
A person who has overstayed due to reasons other than a criminal record can appeal to overturn the travel or entry ban by applying on the Ministry of Interior website or the can appoint a lawyer.
They must provide a copy of their passport, explain the reasons why they overstayed and demonstrate their good character.
To remove a travel ban, a person would also require proof of employment and a good conduct certificate from the police confirming they do not have a criminal record in their home country.
For Dubai, an online petition can be made through the public prosecution website.