'Work visas for expat females in Oman regulated, not banned'

Business Saturday 17/September/2016 21:34 PM
By: Times News Service
'Work visas for expat females in Oman regulated, not banned'

Muscat: There is no ban on expatriate women working in the Sultanate of Oman, a senior ministry official has insisted despite continuing reports of difficulties.
Expatriate females keen to work in the Sultanate are treated on a case by case basis, according to a Ministry of Manpower advisor.
Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter
Some professionals have had to wait for more than a year to get the correct paperwork, while others have been denied an employment visa for certain sectors like construction and smaller businesses.
Security of women
The advisor stressed that expat females are still allowed to work in the country on a legal visa, contrary to popular belief, but admitted that visas for females are regulated, “to protect females”.
“Expat female work clearances are open but regulated,” Said Al Saadi, Advisor at the ministry, said.
“Work clearances for females are open but they are also regulated because the aim is to protect the females. We normally deal with each case individually. When a request comes to us we see the size of the company and their need.
“For example, in the construction industry or a store by the street, a female is not required because the store is on a street or the construction company has more males working in it, so why do they need a female?
“However when it comes to working in big stores or big companies, females are allowed. We previously had some cases where this privilege was abused so we had to revoke that and regulate the female expat clearances to make sure we protect the females,” he added.
He added: “The rule is the same, a female is allowed as usual. We have not closed, only they are just protected in some professions not suitable for the ladies.
“Evaluate, you have 2,000 males in your construction company - why you want one female?
“It’s not banned but it is regulated because it needs to protect, because there are some cases of abuse. We deal with every case in a different way and see the size and requirement of the company. It is open not closed, people think it is closed, we are regulating for protection of women.”
Recruitment specialists in Oman say their experience is somewhat different.
“It is extremely difficult for a female to obtain a visa. Companies that already have a visa for a female are able to re-use them if someone leaves and if there is a match of job/qualifications but obtaining a new visa seems to be almost impossible.
“We have large number of qualified and experienced expat females contacting us for work, however, we have not been able to place a female expat for many months now as clients do not have the visas to be able to employ them,” said Tonia Gray from Competence HR.
Laila, (name changed) a female expat from India, says that her employer has not promised her a visa but has given her a job. She works at a small company in Muscat.
“I work at this insurance company where my boss has said that I won’t get a visa or even if they plan on giving me a visa, it will take a while. I am not sure of the actual reason but from what I know is that employers have trouble in getting female clearances. I have heard from many of my friends that they were having troubles with getting work clearances, it’s quite common.”
Sometimes females who apply to work in bigger companies also have to suffer due to the regulations.
Another female expat from Bangladesh who just got her visa after a long struggle said, “So I graduated as an architect and yes, I did manage to get a visa as an architect, but after an entire year.
“At my current workplace, it took about a year. Initially, we got the clearance quite easily but when the PRO went to collect the papers, the officials told him that they had lost the paper. You can imagine our frustration and we were asked to reapply, which we did and then we had a very long waiting period.
“Meanwhile, we were also delayed due to the Omanisation ratio and because of renewing of official documents. Then we decided to reuse one of the old clearances that we had for a previous employer who left the office. We had already paid for that clearance, but after we made the request to transfer it to my name, we had to pay again. Once all of that paperwork was done, it was easier.
“However, there is no clear information about the processes about changing from family to employment visa.
“Our PRO asked me to cancel my visa, but the airport officials told me that I don’t need to cancel the visa. So I exited the country once without cancelling the visa but that didn’t work.
“Then I had to fly back and cancel my visa again, which was difficult because the airport officials were double minded but we finally convinced them after showing that I had already exited once without cancelling the visa and it had not worked.”
An HR official from one company in Muscat said,“The clearances for the females are open but sometimes very difficult to get. At times it’s because of the company’s Omanisation ratio which needs to be balanced, so that also contributes to the time taken.”