Muscat: Expat workers in Oman will soon be able to obtain or renew work visas online, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MoM).
A new system will be in place within two years, the ministry announced, after a contract was awarded to an Estonian company to convert all work visa applications to online.
The news means employers—and their office HR staff—will no longer have to trudge between the various government departments and ministries to obtain clearances ahead of hiring employees.
The move to online will be in six phases, according to a ministry official, and should be complete within two years. Housemaids’ visas are already available online, a spokeswoman said.
The news was welcomed by company bosses and expats living and working in Oman.
“We are currently moving our services online.
“Among these services is the work permit system, which will meet the requirements of national manpower recruitment,” said an official from the ministry.”
The official added: “This project means that if they need to apply for a permit, you can do it electronically without needing to go the ministry. Companies are therefore able to obtain permits if they meet the requirements.”
“The project aims to develop a system of work permits to re-engineer licencing procedures and establish a mechanism to determine the Omanisation rates in order to reduce the time it takes applying for licences, through streamlining procedures and enhancing transparency and upgrading the ministry’s services in order to raise the level of satisfaction of the beneficiaries.”
“The project also seeks to raise the level of indicators of Oman’s performance in the efficiency of the labour market and the management of manpower at the international and regional levels in accordance with the laws in force in the Sultanate,” the official said.
With the help of the Advanced Manpower Management System (AMMS), MoM said a framework has been developed to manage the expatriate workforce more effectively, “to support development needs at the national level.”
MoM and the Information Technology Authority had signed a development agreement with an Estonian company earlier this year to complete the project within 24 months. “This project will take two years, because it involves six levels. In order to transition to an electronic service, the project must pass through a number of levels, such as data collection, classification of information, trial period, and the general launch,” the official said.
Some of the permits have already been implemented online, such as for household workers and private permits, these you can apply for now, electronically.
“We hope it will streamline the procedures, enhance transparency and improve service efficiency. It will also help achieve the goals of recruitment and reduce the number of job seekers and raise the skill level of the national workforce through training programmes,” the official said.
The project is also expected to raise the level of performance indicators in Oman in the efficiency of the labour market and workforce. Components of the project include electronic alerts, search and inquiry, electronic payment, complaints, and electronic dates.
Work permits are the follow-up to the approval of conditional approvals, required documents, labour force evidence, statistical reports, all of which will be electronic. “Currently, business owners can look at data relating to their manpower electronically, for instance they can see who among their workforce has a card that has almost expired, or is already expired,” the official said.
Maaz Firdous, consultant at Al Iskaan Engineering, said: “Easing the process of getting visas for workers can only mean the best for the country’s economy. The resources lost in the process of getting these visas is too much and not worth it. It is surely a boost to companies that are aiming to hire people as they grow in these times. I imagine there will be more such measures by the government to ease visa procedures in the future to help make Oman a more accessible country.”
S Bhuiyan, a senior member of the Bangladesh Social Club, said the move will help companies. “At present, we have to go to the ministries for all work. I hope this will help us in getting everything online.”