As many as 26,000 Indians were among 100,000 illegal immigrants who left the United Arab Emirates under a six-month general amnesty that ended on June 30, official sources said on Wednesday.
The amnesty, meant for four months, was extended to six months to benefit maximum number of illegal expatriates wishing to leave the country without punishment.
Meanwhile, some reports said that about 40,000 illegals were taken into custody by immigration authorities for staying back in violation of residency rules during the period.
Among the Indians who left were scores of maids who had fled their sponsors for various reasons and were working illegally.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Indian consulate in Dubai had pressed volunteers into service to meet the rush during the closing days of the amnesty.
Under a federal law of 1996, illegal immigrants face a maximum jail term of 10 years and a 10,000-dirham fine.
In 1996, too, the UAE government had granted an amnesty, which enabled 150,000 expatriates regularise their jobs and 170,000 leave without punishment.