Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News
MANILA - Around 2,000 undocumented Filipino residents in Qatar can be repatriated without legal consequences under a three-month amnesty which ends on December 1, the Philippine Embassy in Doha said.
Consul General Roussel Reyes told radio DZMM the amnesty covers "overstaying" foreigners, those with expired passports and workers who ran away from employers.
Under normal rules, these "illegals" could be facing a huge fine or imprisonment for absconding. But until the grace period ends, they may return to their own countries just by presenting their passport, ID card or entry visa into Qatar and a plane ticket home at the Search and Follow Up Department.
Reyes said it is important for those availing of the amnesty to present their plane ticket or at least enough cash to buy one because Doha officials typically release exit visas within the same day of application.
"Ang requirement po sa pag-avail ng amnesty, dapat po pagpunta sa Immigration, may confirmed ticket na po sila. Kasi within the same day po, issue na po nila ang exit visa. Hinihingi po nilang may ticket na para makaalis kaagad iyung worker," he said.
So far, the Embassy has helped 238 Filipinos secure travel documents necessary for repatriation, Reyes added.
There is no official figure for how many "illegals" live among Qatar's 1.8 million migrant workforce.
People approached by Agence France-Presse prior to visiting the department said they had been told not to speak to the international media.
Officials are wary as Qatar has faced constant criticism of its treatment of workers since winning the right to host the 2022 football World Cup.
The authorities point to labor reforms including the impending end of the sponsorship rules and the Wage Protection System which ensures workers get paid.