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Faces of Filipino expats under UAE visa amnesty

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, TOP STORIES

When the amnesty program was first announced in June, thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with overstaying and absconding cases came forward, eager to find a glimpse of hope to be able to return home. Others who availed of the program chose to stay.

Here are the tales of Filipino expats in the UAE that The Filipino Times pursued in the past four months.

First batch of amnesty grantees

Onboard Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 659, the first batch of Filipino amnesty grantees composed of more than 100 OFWs arrived in Manila on August 16. Since then, more than ten batches of OFWs from the UAE have arrived home.

Some were nervous while some were excited, but one thing was certain – the amnesty marked a new beginning.

Almost 30 years of hiding is finally over

Lola Angela Cacayuran, who arrived home on August 26 as a part of the second batch of OFW amnesty grantees, worked in the UAE for almost three decades and hid from the law for many years.

Cacayuran told The Filipino Times that she overstayed when her visit visa expired without having a work visa. While she was scared of the law, she promised herself that she would not return home until her younger child has finished her studies.

“Parang naninibago nga ako,” a teary eyed Angela said.

‘It’s time for family’

Meanwhile, for another OFW named Amy, the amnesty program meant a fresh start.

“Hindi ko maipaliwanag ang saya. Masayang-masaya ako kasi sa wakas nakauwi na ako ng Pilipinas,” said Amy who overstayed in the UAE for six years.

Amy told TFT that she realized it’s time to spend quality time with her family after years of working abroad.

A fresh start for kids too

Among the first batch of Filipinos who availed of the UAE amnesty program and decided to go back to the Philippines, all expenses paid for by the government, are children of overseas Filipinos.

According to Rosemen Salvador, who arrived in Manila with her three children, aged 9, 10, and 11, her husband, who serves as their sponsor, returned to Pakistan to settle certain issues. But due to unforeseen circumstances that her husband faced in Pakistan, Salvador had to stay in the UAE to take care of their children. She waited for nine months until her visa expired.

For her, the amnesty program meant a fresh start for her children who would see the Philippines for the very first time. She added that she would enroll her children to school and stay in the country for a few years.

Another child who benefitted from the amnesty program is Michaela, a daughter of an OFW who availed of the amnesty program.

Michaela was among the sea of people who patiently waited at the airport for the arrival of her OFW mother, Eunice.

“Miss na miss ko na po si Mama, buti dumating na po siya. Gustong-gusto ko po siyang i-hug,” the young girl said before giving her mother a tight hug which she craved for for years.

Taking another shot

While many UAE visa amnesty grantees see the program as a chance to come home, some overseas Filipinos still want return to Dubai and pick up where they left off.

Joms worked in Dubai as a sales representative for two years. Like many OFWs, he entered UAE with a visit visa. When he was hired, however, his employers did not process his work visa despite his compliance in submitting necessary requirements including his passport.

When Joms learned about the amnesty program, it was a sigh of relief. Aside from being freed from the burden of paying his overstaying fines, he can finally catch the last flight to start anew.

Despite this, Joms admitted that he will be returning to Dubai again if given a chance. Joms said that one of his siblings is still studying, and the only way to support him is to go back to Dubai.

No more extension

The UAE amnesty program for expats, which began on August 1, was supposed to end on October 31.

Due to the number of expats who still visit amnesty centers for a chance to return home, the deadline was extended until December 1. Latest data from the Philippine government states that as of November 12, the number of Filipino amnesty grantees who have arrived in the country has risen to 2,481.

The latest batch of OFW amnesty grantees arrived on November 24 and they were given transportation allowance which was used for their traveling expenses to their respective provinces. All of them also received Php5,000 financial assistance from the government.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

FOLLOW US

SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTER

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