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Times of Oman - 18.02.2015

Muscat: Your heart sinks as you see the long queue of expatriates waiting to renew their resident cards, and you know hours will be lost by the time you are free.

Sounds familiar? To many expatriates it will, but now the days of endless waiting could be over as new rules mean attendance of residents at the Department of Civil Status is no longer required.

According to the new rules, now the company owner or an authorised employee of the company can get the card renewed on behalf of the expatriate, who no longer needs to spend a day or more in queue.

The Times of Oman spoke to an official at the Civil Status Office who said that they had begun implementing the decision from February 16.

The official clarified that while this decision would make it easier for expatriates to renew their resident cards, the procedure for first-timers remains unchanged.

"We are attempting to reduce the rush here. The authorised person can come with one card or a number of cards," said the official.

He explained that expatriates show up at the office to renew their resident cards along with their friends and relatives.

"This adds to the rush. Every working day the Civil Status offices are filled with hundreds of expatriates which make it even more difficult for us to process their transactions," said the official, and added, "So, it is not mandatory anymore for expatriates to show up."

No objection certificate
"
The expatriate has to be present in the Civil Status Office only when he or she changes jobs," said the official. In that case, they should obtain the no objection certificate (NOC) and accompany the new employer to the office.

The announcement was widely welcomed by expatriates and employers as they believed this would make the renewal process much less cumbersome.

Responding to the change in resident card renewal procedures, Tonia Gray, GM of Competence HR said, "It is with great relief we learnt that the ROP has changed the process for renewal of your resident visa. From February 16, the expatriate was no longer required to attend the offices of the Department of Civil Status and another company representative, either the owner or the PRO, can renew the resident visa for you." 

Gray added, "I have previously renewed my visa five times and although the process has been relatively quick for me, as a western female, I have noticed the length of the queues that others have had to join to undertake what is a relatively quick process once you are seen by one of the officers. 

"My visa was renewed this morning by my company PRO without my attendance, which is great news for me – and I am sure for other expatriates.  This is a very positive step from the ROP for which they should be applauded," she said. 

Ahmed Al Hooti, an OCCI member, welcomed the ROP move saying that the new procedure will save the expatriate's time and will make the process easier.

"It is good news and I wish this is only the start of many such positive moves in future," said Al Hooti.

He hoped that the ROP hands over the whole procedure of renewing expatriate resident cards to Sanad offices.

"The ROP can approve these Sanad offices to receive the application and documents. They can issue the resident cards by charging a little extra," suggested Al Hooti. He explained that expatriates and employers would definitely prefer finishing their transactions in one go.
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