Grace period granted to migrant workers overstaying their visas

Non-resident workers whose blue cards have expired since the Chinese Lunar New Year have until February 29 to settle their cases with the immigration department without having to pay an “overstay” fine of 500 patacas per day. The exemption was made because of the suspension of certain immigration services as part of the government’s plan to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Although the Public Security Police (PSP) urged the public to not crowd the Pac On Immigration Department, hundreds of people still queued at the government office yesterday when it reopened. Many migrant workers in particular were keen to have their outstanding visa matters resolved.
Many of them have expired visas and were unable to resolve their cases as government departments have not opened in weeks.
According to a non-resident worker whose visa expired on February 14, her employers were informed that even if her visa lapsed, it would not cause any issues.
“One of the people that I know whose visa expired on February 7 was told by her employment agency that they will be the one to solve the matter,” said the worker, who asked not to be identified.
“It’s good that we do not have to pay or else that is another problem,” said another non-resident worker, who also asked to remain anonymous.
Non-essential government offices have been closed since Chinese New Year, inconveniencing the public, including those who applying for or canceling domestic worker applications.
Some services at the Pac On Immigration Department were not open yet, suspending services for applications for new residence permits for mainland residents. Some residents complained that the government could have arranged their appointment system better.
Meanwhile, acting director of the Residence and Stay Affairs Department, Wong Kim Hong, said that there is no need for non-resident workers to rush to have their cases settled.
“For expired residence permits, expired visas of non-local workers and students, they just need to go to the department before February 29. There is no need for them to rush to the department, and the same for non-emergency services,” he said, according to public broadcaster TDM.
The PSP also communicated with employment agencies to arrange for non-professional workers to arrive at the building at different times, and in this way avoid the concentration of a large number of people in a small space.

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