Some 41 Filipino expatriates in Qatar have so far availed themselves of the Ministry of Interior’s (MoI) three-month amnesty for illegal residents, an official of the Philippine embassy in Doha has said.
First secretary and consul general Roussel R Reyes told Gulf Times that nearly all these cases fell under “absconding” while a few were cases of non-renewal of residence permits.
“The programme covers those who have run away or absconded from their employers as long as they have no other case,” he said, adding that those who have been charged in court are not included.
Reyes noted that many of the applicants who took advantage of the amnesty are runaway Filipino housemaids and male workers.
Out of the 41, more than half have been allowed to travel back home after submitting the needed documents to MoI’s Search and Follow up Department (SFD), Reyes said.
The embassy receives on average three to four calls from Filipinos who are probably mulling taking advantage of the programme, according to Reyes. “We receive calls but most of them are for clarifications about the scheme.”
He said overstaying Filipinos can go directly to SFD since no endorsement from the embassy was needed.
“If you meet the requirements (passport and confirmed ticket), in three days you will be sent home. The procedure is what they say it is, there are no penalties, no detention, and the process is fast,” he said.
The embassy is also set to issue a circular to members of the Filipino community about the amnesty but “it will be more of a reiteration of what was issued by MoI.”
Besides absconding, the consul general said the amnesty also covers those who are under visit visa but failed to renew it and have overstayed in the country.
“It seems business visa is not covered since it was not included in the list, so far what we are sure of is the visit visa,” he added.
He advised Filipinos, who have questions and inquiries about the programme, to come to the embassy.
He also reminded Filipinos to make sure they have the needed requirements before heading to SFD.
“Some have been rejected because they went there without passports or travel documents so they have been advised by authorities to go to the embassy,” Reyes said.
The embassy is also ready to assist those who have issues with their passports, he stressed.
The first group of Filipinos who used the amnesty on September 4 were sent home on September 8.
A first in 12 years and the third ever in Qatar, the grace period came into force on September 1 and ends on December 1.
Foreigners who are residing in the country in violation of the provisions of Law No 4 of 2009 Regulating the Entry, Exit, Residence and Sponsorship of Expatriates can exit the country without legal consequences, the MoI had said through a post on its Facebook page.
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