Times of Oman
Jul 20, 2017 Last Updated at 23:41 AST
Exclusive: Two-year expat ban rules now stricter in Oman
January 18, 2016 | 7:35 PM
by FAHAD AL GHADANI / REJIMON K
A top Royal Oman Police (ROP) official confirmed on Monday that the two-year ban rule has been tightened.
 
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Read here: ‘NOC doesn’t guarantee return to Oman’ ROP official re-affirms

Muscat:
If you leave your job and leave Oman, you won’t be coming back to work for two years ... even if you have a No Objection Certificate (NOC).

That was the stark message from a top Royal Oman Police (ROP) official on Monday after a number of companies contacted Times of Oman saying the rules had been tightened.

According to the official, it now makes no difference whether employees complete their contract or not, they will be simply denied clearance to work inside Oman for the two-year period regardless of service or possession of an NOC from their ex-employer.

Also read: Company officials confirm expat recruits with NOCs turned down

“The immigration department has stressed that the NOC letter is not valid anymore in this matter. Any expatriate worker who leaves Oman has to spend two years abroad before joining another company in Oman,” a top official at ROP told Times of Oman.

“However, if he has plans to join the same employer, he can do it without waiting for two years,” the official added.

According to the official, the decision was taken based on Article 11 of the Immigration Code, which states that an expatriate worker who leaves Oman has to spend two years abroad before returning to Oman.

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Said bin Naser Al Sadi, advisor to the Minister of Manpower, said the move was outside of the ministry's remit.

“This decision was taken by the ROP and has nothing to do with the Ministry of Manpower,” said Al Sadi. “We can talk about the work rule but for entrance and exit from the country comes under the ROP and we can’t interfere,” he added.

It means that the only way an expat employee can join a new company is if he stays within Oman and his previous employer is prepared to lose the clearance from his quota of expat staff by granting an NOC.

“It is shocking to hear this. We were expecting that in the 2016, the government will ease the NOC regulations. But they have tightened it. It is a worrisome situation,” Mohammed Sanuallah, a Bangladeshi expatriate, said.

An Indian expatriate also sounded the same concern.

“Now, expatriates will be stuck in Oman. There are no choices. Have to stay back whatever may be the conditions at the workplace in terms of salary and other conditions,” Shameer PTK, the Indian expat, said. He also added that his company official who went to the immigration department also confirmed the ROP is denying visa even if there is NOC or release letter.

A migrants rights activist said that the NOC already unduly restricts workers mobility, making it difficult for workers to leave their jobs. It means they will be unable to return for two years, many who have paid high recruitment costs would be forced to continue working in less than favourable conditions.

“This new policy is even more regressive and makes little sense if Oman wants to attract experienced workers. Barring workers who know the country and its economy, re-entry is simply bad for productivity and efficiency,” Rima Kalush, editor at migrant-rights.org and a migrant rights’ activist, said.

Earlier the ROP had said that if the expat leaves the Sultanate then the former employer would not lose his clearance and the new expat can enter the Sultanate and join the new company without the need of spending two years outside Oman.

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