Over half of the 6,800 Filipinos who were granted amnesty by the government of the United Arab Emirates have chosen to remain in the country rather than return home to the Philippines.

According to Paul Raymund Cortes, consul general of the Philippine Consulate General in the UAE, a total of 6,810 Filipinos have made use of the amnesty, with 4,343 of those opting to stay in the country, The Filipino Times reported.

Cortes said the majority of the Filipinos chose to apply for a six-month visa to try their luck at getting a job in the UAE. Many of them also wanted to rectify their immigration status in the country with the intention of staying instead of returning home to the Philippines.

The UAE government’s amnesty program started on August 1 this year and was supposed to end in November. However, the program has been extended until December 1 due to the large number of amnesty seekers coming forward.