More and more companies are opting for shorter visas for expatriate workers instead of the regular two-year visas.
Shahswar Al Balushi, CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors, said: “Many business houses are opting for short-term work permits depending on projects. Investors too are opting for short-term permits as they have temporary businesses. Then, there are others who opt for these visas due to financial issues. They prefer to go for temporary visas as they are short of money.”
According to the Ministry of Manpower, there are several types of work visas available in Oman.
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“There are four-, six- and nine-month visas available for expat workers,” the official said adding, one-year visas are available for investors.
“The ministry grants such work permits for businesses and projects that have a limited period of time, depending on the project,” he explained.
“A four-month visa for expat workers costs OMR61, a six-month visa OMR91, a nine-month one OMR136,” the official said.
“The one-year visa for investors costs OMR101,” he added.
“It depends on the projects available in the country. The temporary work permits had been put in place some years ago,” he added.
When contacted, a senior ROP official confirmed that they issue short-term visas. “This depends on firms’ requirements,” he said.
In November 2016, the Ministry of Manpower had announced that job visa fees for expat workers would be increased by 50 per cent.
The fee to obtain a new visa or to renew the same for an expat worker was increased from OMR201 to OMR301 for a two-year visa.
For domestic workers, camel herders and farm workers, the fee was also changed. “Since then, people started opting for short-term visas,” a businessman who refused to be named said.
‘Expat specialists sought’
Moreover, the government is planning to permit the recruitment of non-Omani workers under temporary employment licences in specific specialised jobs for a set period of time.
The specified professions include medical, academic, technical, consultancy, expertise and training, according to the Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit’s annual report.
This amendment is being pursued as a measure to manage business needs requiring expatriate specialists for a limited period of time. Therefore, the aforementioned jobs will be identified and updated on a yearly basis by the Ministry of Manpower due to a demand in the labour market.
The government is also working on a structure to allow the flexible movement of expatriate workers in the Sultanate to enhance labour mobility between companies registered within the same group or entity.
“The long-term objective of the initiative is to unlock the flexible movement of expats to help private enterprises in need of additional staff. After an amendment to the new law, a company can move an expat worker to a group company for a period of three months after notifying the Ministry of Manpower,” the report said.
© Muscat Media Group