Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Now Sheesha's on the Brink & Manpower Boss Tries to Clarify 2Y Ban Visa Rule

The Majlis Shura recently has suggested sheesha joints should be moved out of town to curb smoking, "the sheesha restaurants functioning in residential areas and those in the heart of the towns should be shut down and asked to relocate to areas outside the town," and the cost of licenses should be raised.
Read more here:

The people have spoken. The Majlis Shura is an elected council here in Oman. They can make suggestions, question certain Ministers and have been granted minimal legislative powers mostly in social and cultural affairs. The Majlis Shura has been cracking down. So far, they have put the move on restricting alcohol, moving bachelor expats to isolated living complexes away from Omanis, moving sheesha to the outskirts of town and banning musical performers in less than three star hotels.

And in other news, the Oman Observer published an article to help clarify the two year visa ban. See: However, some aspects of the ban still seem hazy despite reading the Minister's interview. The new enforcement procedures of the rule are just not well understood enough in general, and it's too difficult to get clarification on. They should just scrap this new enforcement and implement something more streamlined and simplified. There has been a notable amount of conjecture and rumour over the ban. It's not even clear if their own people understand it.


What seems clear..

  • Start date: July 1, 2014
  • Applies to all professions, no job exempted, "no disparity between jobs"..."as of yet" (does this mean there could be in the future)
  • Applies to all expats no madder how long ones been living in the Sultanate 
  • If you do a 'runner' before the end of service, you will be banned for two years.
  • There is an exception to the ban by 'mutual understanding' between employer/employee of the employee leaving/changing jobs. The employer must issue a NOC (No Objection Certificate). Then, the new employer can ask the old employer for a 'release' which facilitates the transfer of employment and visa.
What is not so clear..
  • There is no mention if the employer issuing the NOC will lose the expat visa allocation in the case of 'mutual understanding'
  • There is no mention of contract periods other than for two years. Oman's labour regulations also provide for an 'indefinite' contract. The employment visa lasts for two years.
  • There is no mention what happens to the employee who finishes his contract but the employer fails to cancel his/her visa upon leaving Oman. 
  • There is no mention of the proceedure for changing jobs when the contract term ends. Does one need an NOC or can the employee leave Oman and then come in under the new visa?
  • There is no mention how the visa ban would apply retroactively before the ban was reapplied, for example, for the person who left Oman a year ago before the contract term ended- are they retroactively banned for two years from that date.
  • The ROP puts out their own announcements regarding the ban separate from Manpower. This is confusing in itself; not to have one body take the lead. 
Manpower Boss - Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri

Here's the full text:

Ministry of Manpower clears doubts on 2-year rule on visas — By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT — Putting all doubts and rumours which have been making rounds since May 10 after the announcement of a 2-year ban on expatriate leaving their sponsor before the end of the contract period to rest, Minister of Manpower Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri in an interview with the Observer said the new rule came into force from July 1 this year.
From July 1, 2014, there is a mandatory 2-year entry ban on any expatriate leaving his/her sponsor during his employment period or if the visa is cancelled before completion of the contract period of two years and the rule has come into force.
Contrary to what some unfound news hitherto said regarding some professionals such as doctors and engineers being exempted from the new law, the minister categorically ruled out any such thing for any job holder.
“There is no such disparity between jobs. This rule is applicable to all expatriate employees in the country and we have not thought about any such exceptions as of now”.
“Any expatriate employee working for a local sponsor suddenly decides to leave and go back home, can do so according to the human rights and the decisions thereof although the work contract between the employer and the employee will be complete only when it covers two years. In this case, he is not allowed to come back and work for another sponsor for the next two years and this is to save the interest of the contractors”, the minister said, adding that we should remember that a labour contract is for two years and a labour card aka resident card is also valid for two years and both parties are at liberty to call it off whenever they find it difficult to get along but due notice has to be given in either case.
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has, in congruence with the decision of the Ministry of Manpower earlier announced that no employment visa will be issued after July 1, 2014 to any foreigner who previously worked in the Sultanate and has not completed two years from the date of last departure. The announcement was made on May 10 this year and since then, there have been various reports in diverse angles often contradicting and misleading the public.
This new rule is applicable to any expatriate of any nationality who is under a local sponsorship in Oman. This is equally applicable to an expatriate living in Oman for the last several years or for just some months.
“This rule is applicable to all expatriate workforce in the country irrespective of their nationality and this wouldn’t change whether he or she is working for a sponsor or sponsors for last thirty years or last three months”, Bakri told the Observer on the sidelines of the ‘Ramadhan Nights’ at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).
“However, the only exception is that the employee is leaving the company/sponsorship out of a mutual understanding with his sponsor and that his sponsor has no issue in him joining another company”, Bakri clarified, adding, “Moving from one company to another is allowed only when there is an express consent of the present employer for the employee to join another organisation.”
With an NOC (No Objection Certificate), the sponsor says that he has no issues in his employee joining another organisation whereas a ‘release’ is a case in which the sponsor facilitates his employee’s transfer to another company by signing necessary papers and so on.
The earlier is a general letter issued by the sponsor whereas the latter is a document aimed at a specified local individual/company who is the potential sponsor.
A new company can recruit an expatriate employee who is holding an NOC and through the documentation, they can ask for a release from the ex-sponsor to facilitate his joining their company.

No comments:

Post a Comment