Times of Oman
Oct 09, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 12:59 PM GMT
Oman expatriate labour ban: Catch 22 faced by business on expats NOCs
May 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
For illustrative purpose only. Photo - Times file

Muscat: Businesses in Oman will lose an expat visa from their company quota if they issue no objection certificates (NOC) to employees wanting to move to other jobs within the Sultanate, say officials.

The Ministry of Manpower and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) confirmed to Times of Oman that the only way an expat worker seeking to move employers can avoid being forced to leave the country for two years, even if they have completed their initial contract, is to obtain the NOC from their current boss. However, the ministry and the ROP clarified that an expat worker with an NOC can transfer companies inside Oman, even before that initial contract is complete.

But the rules mean that company bosses must choose between giving the certificate and then being unable to hire another expat, thus reducing the number of foreigners the business can employ, or refusing to issue the NOC.

An official at the Ministry of Manpower confirmed, "In case an expatriate worker exits the country after getting his visa cancelled, the employer is eligible to get a visa in place of that employee. "However, if the expatriate worker  goes to new company with an NOC within the country, the old employer will not get a visa in his place."

Both the ministry and ROP also confirmed that even if an employee completed their initial contract and they wanted to quit their job and leave the country, they could only return to work in Oman within two years if they had already secured an NOC and used it to get a new visa with their new employer before exiting the Sultanate.

If not the expat must stay away for the two years. The only exception to this rule is if the expat who has left the country is rejoining his previous employer. In this case an NOC is not necessary.

A managing partner of a private company, who does not want to be named, said that generally no company would give the no objection certificate or clearance for an employee to join another company, saying the Ministry of Manpower would not give another clearance for another foreign employee.

This is a major issue, he said, especially when companies carry out time-sensitive projects, as they cannot afford to lose experienced hands.

Opinion remained divided on the latest ruling with many flocking the Times of Oman Facebook page to express either support or concern. Muazzam Ali Arbab said, "Well that's good news, but it is not that easy to get a 'NOC' from the employer."

Yolanda Elena Sevgen posted, "It would depend on the situation I guess. My husband got his NOC easily as his contract was coming to an end anyway and his employers didn't want to hold him back - they encouraged him to move forward and wished him the
best of luck.

"Depends how forward thinking your employer is, I don't think international companies or unselfish employers will refuse especially since you've completed your first two years anyway.

Samia Mansour said, "As what everyone is saying, NOC is very difficult to obtain."

Aziza Al Busaidy posted, "Many companies give NOC if employee pays for initial costs of bringing them over which is fair enough after all why should they pay for you to come over so you can go and work for someone else. I am against Sponsorship System as it places a big burden on companies."

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