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Times of Oman - 19.01.2016

Muscat: “A No Objection Certificate (NOC) will not assure that an expatriate can return to Oman after leaving his job.”

That was the message again from senior police officials to the Times of Oman, who reiterated that holding a certificate from an ex-employer no longer guarantees being able to work in Oman again within two years of exit.

Major Rashid Al Abri confirmed there were new rules tightening up procedures for expatriate workers wanting to return, saying, “The final decision is of Royal Oman Police (ROP).”

An exception to the strict rules, he added, was that if both the old and the new sponsor — not a company representative but the sponsor-themselves — came in person to the immigration office to sign the NOC for approval from the ROP. There were media reports yesterday that company representatives could process the papers at the immigration office, but the official said this was not fully correct.
“The media misunderstood our version,” the major said.

Even if an employee is able to get both sponsors to attend and complete the paperwork, Major Al Abri said there were still factors that could lead to a denial.

The police, he said, will look into the aspects such as whether the expatriate employee is needed in Oman, whether the applicant’s personal records are clean and also whether any money is involved in the transfer process.

He added that this move was taken to stop employees getting around Article 11 in the immigration code stating that an expat who leaves the country and leaves his job should spend two years abroad before joining another company back in Oman.

“It is to control the market,” Major Al Abri added.

A second, more senior top official in the ROP, who initially told Times of Oman about the new rules that led to yesterday’s headlines, said the decision was taken as there were many complaints filed with the Public Prosecution against the police force itself from previous employers.

“Almost 30 cases were filed against the ROP for allowing an expat to join another company without the knowledge of the first employer,” he said.

He added that the cases filed showed that in many the NOC letters were fake.

In addition, the decision aims to stop the selling of NOC letters which started after the activation of the rule introducing the two-year ban, he said.

This move is different from the internal transfers of sponsorship inside Oman, which must be for the same job title, resulting in the old employer losing an expat visa clearance from his quota.



Mohammed Al Khaldi, board member of General Federation of Oman Trade Union (GFOTU), told Times of Oman, “It will force workers to toe the employer line which is out of the purview of the contract. The rule might have been implemented in a good sense to avoid workers shifting jobs frequently, but it seems it’s going to hurt the workers badly.”

Tonia Gray, general manager at Competence HR, said that expatriate employees in Oman may become somewhat disgruntled and demotivated feeling that they are being restricted by the rules of the country and as such, their productivity may drop.

The general manager also thinks, that when this new rule becomes widely known, many expats may well re-consider their move in the first instance to Oman and may focus their search for employment in the other GCC countries where the regulations are less restrictive.

“This may have a negative long term impact on the diversification of national revenue sources if expat roles cannot be readily filled or by having to identify and train nationals to fill such roles. Expats are fundamental to the smooth running of many businesses here and therefore support the Oman economy. Given the even tougher times yet to come, these regulatory changes may cause even more difficulties,” she added.
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