civil law


September 18, 2023



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With a significant number of foreigners residing and working in the UAE, the country has established a comprehensive legal framework to govern their entry, residence, and employment within its borders. Guided by Federal Decree-Law No. 29/2021, this framework aims to ensure legal compliance while providing opportunities for individuals to rectify their status through amnesty programs.

Overview of the Law

The responsibility of issuing entry permits and visas to foreign nationals lies with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in the UAE. Entry permits granted by UAE consulates abroad must adhere to the rules set by the UAE authorities.

Federal Decree-Law No. 29/2021 includes regulations that apply to foreign nationals’ entry, stay, and activities in the UAE. It outlines conditions for visas, residence permits, entry and exit procedures through designated ports, and the obligations of foreigners. The Decree-Law also explains the penalties for violations, which include fines, deportation, and even imprisonment.

Amnesty and Legal Provisions

Article 11 of Federal Decree-Law No. 29/2021 addresses individuals who have overstayed their visas or residence permits, imposing administrative fines for each day of illegal stay beyond the specified timeframe.

However, the Chairman or authorized representatives have the discretion to exempt individuals from fines based on exceptional circumstances or considerations of public interest. The Decree-Law also explains the penalties for violations, which include fines, deportation, and even imprisonment.

Penalties for Violations

Article 21 of the law stipulates that any foreigner caught entering the state illegally shall face imprisonment, deportation, and the confiscation of funds obtained through illegal activities. Similarly, penalties for employing, sheltering, or lodging a foreigner in violation of the law are outlined in the Decree-Law, ranging from fines to imprisonment and deportation.

Cabinet Decision No. 89/2022 On the Administrative Fines for Violations:

  • Lapse of Authorized Stay: 50 Dirhams per day
  • Delay in Notification or Renewal: 20 Dirhams for every day of delay, up to 1000 Dirhams
  • Delay in Establishment Card Renewal: 100 Dirhams for every month of delay, up to 1000 Dirhams
  • Misuse of Smart Services: 2000 Dirhams
  • Issuance of Entry Visas for Inactive Establishments: 20,000 Dirhams
  • Providing Fake Information: 3000 Dirhams
  • Inaccuracy in System Applications: 100 Dirhams per application
  • Disruption of Authority's Work: 5000 Dirhams
  • Change in Establishment Data without Notification: 1000 Dirhams
  • Breaching Authority's Instructions: 2000 Dirhams

Exemptions and Adjustments: The Decree-Law provides paths for individuals to address violations and regularize their status.

Exemption from Fines: The Chairman or authorized representatives can exempt individuals from fines based on compelling circumstances or considerations of public interest.

Adjustment of Situations: The Cabinet, upon the Chairman's recommendation, can adjust situations of violators and regulate cases where exemptions apply.

Cancellation and Termination: Administrative fines imposed for overstaying or violations can be cancelled by the Cabinet, offering individuals an avenue to resolve their status.

Deportation and Re-entry: Individuals previously deported from the UAE can seek permission from the Chairman to re-enter the country, promoting second chances for compliance.

Role of Amnesty Programs

Amnesty initiatives play an essential role within this framework, enabling individuals to rectify their legal status without facing legal consequences. These programs primarily target individuals who have overstayed their visas, worked illegally, violated residency rules, or face deportation due to legal violations.

During these programs, individuals are given a specific timeframe to rectify their status, settle fines, or exit the country without penalties. By offering amnesty, the UAE government encourages them to rectify their status within a specified timeframe.

Additionally, individuals with absconding reports against them can also apply for amnesty. Immigration authorities may have the discretion to remove absconding reports and issue exit permits without imposing bans.

In Conclusion UAE’s residency laws and amnesty, initiatives demonstrate commitment to legal compliance and supporting individuals rectifying their status. The legal framework balances accountability with opportunities for rectification.

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