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Oman – No plans to delay ban on return of expatriate workers

16 June 2014

There is no plan to delay the implementation of the ban on the return of expatriate workers across Oman, according to senior officials, reports The Times of Oman. The Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) have refuted all rumours in this regard.

Talib Al Dhabari, a public relations officer at the MoM, commented: "There is no change in the date of application of the 'two-year ban' on return of expat workers to Oman. It will come into effect from 1 July. The ROP is an executive body and it has nothing to do with formulating the labour law.”

"Article 11 in the Passport and Residence Act in Oman states that the employment visa will not be issued to any foreigner who has previously worked in Oman but has not completed two years from the date of last departure," said a source at the ROP.

"The law will be applicable to everyone," Mr Al Dhabari stated. However, he added that a no objection certificate (NOC) will not be necessary if the expat was to re-join his previous employer. 

After the 'two-year' ban comes into effect, the only way expats will be allowed to switch employers in Oman would be if they could get an NOC from their current employers, even if they have completed the period of their contract. They will then not be forced to leave the country for two years.

The MoM and ROP clarified that an expat who has been issued an NOC will be allowed to join another company while in Oman even before the initial contract is complete. However, businesses in Oman will lose an expat visa from their company quota if they issue an NOC to employees who want to move to other jobs within the Sultanate, officials explained.

As per the rules, employers would have to choose between issuing the NOC, and then being unable to hire another expat or retaining the employee and not issuing the NOC. In other words, employers would have to choose if they want to reduce the number of foreigners their business can employ, or refusing to issue the NOC.

A MoM official confirmed: "In case an expatriate leaves Oman after getting his visa cancelled, the employer is eligible for a visa in place of that employee. However, if the expatriate joins another company on the basis of an NOC but within Oman, the old employer will not receive a visa in his place."

The MoM and ROP have also confirmed that if an employee completes the initial contract and leaves Oman, he or she could return to work in Oman within two years if he/she has secured an NOC, and uses it to obtain a new visa with their new employer before leaving the Sultanate. 

A source at the ROP explained that the law has been in existence for a long time but is being enforced now: "The ROP has decided that it is the right time to activate the law as we have received many recommendations from businessmen and enterprise owners. The decision bans the expatriate workforce to join another company before completing two years from the date of departure."

If an expatriate has not completed two years after departure, and is called to re-join the same company after leaving the Sultanate, the worker will be exempted from the law.

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