The Sultanate of Oman has announced major changes to the visa rules for visitors and expats to bring more tourists as well as to attract more foreign investors to the country.
Under the previous system, expats working in government sectors can now sponsor visa applicants according to Article 8 of the new decree.
The amendments allow foreigners who own certain properties in the Sultanate to receive a visa without a sponsor, as well as enable expatriates working for a government agency to become sponsors themselves. The new decision includes changes and additions to Articles 1, 2, 10, 14, 29, and 30 of Decree No 63/96.
The decree, with the new amendments, states that a visa sponsor must either be an Omani, licenced foreign investor, or an expatriate employee of a government agency. "This means that expatriates will be able to become sponsors of their own family members as long as they meet certain conditions." An official from the ROP was quoted as saying in Times of Oman.
New short stay visa
Attracting more tourists, Royal Oman Police introduced new short stay visa for visitors intending to make short trip of 10 days to the Sultanate. According to a decree by the Royal Oman Police, tourists will have to pay OMR5 for the short stay visa.
According to the decree, the fee for visa transfer application is OMR50 and non-refundable while the second addition is OMR5 fee for a 10-day tourist visa. Besides this, tourist visa can now be availed for as short as 10-day visa, one month, and one year tourist visa.
Amendments made to Article 10 paragraph 3 (a) now divide tourist visas into three categories based on 10 days, one month, and one-year durations. Two new visa fees have been added to the list of entry visas in Article 29 of the regulation on residence law 63/96.
Additionally, Article 10 Paragraph 3 (b) now details which visa the residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can apply for while looking to visit the Sultanate without a sponsor. According to Paragraph 3 (b), this "is granted by the competent authority to foreigners residing in the GCC states who wish to visit the Sultanate for the purpose of tourism, from the professions specified, without a sponsor. The holder is entitled to enter the Sultanate once and stay there for a period of four weeks, it may be extended for a week on condition that they must enter the Sultanate during one month from the date of issuing the visa".
Residents of other GCC states can visit Oman as tourists and stay for up to four weeks without a sponsor. Upon the expiration of the four-week period, the tourist visa can then be extended for another week on the condition that they entered Oman one month from the date the visa was issued.
Fines for not exiting the country upon the expiration of the visa are now set at OMR10 per day for all visa categories. The new short stay visa has been welcomed by travel agents as the move will bring more tourists to Oman. "The OMR20 visa fees were too high. It is good that the visa fees were brought down," a travel agent was quoted as saying in Times of Oman.
Visa ban for 87 professions extended
The Ministry of Manpower has also issued a decision to extend the temporary ban on hiring expatriates for 87 jobs in the private sector. The ban will be extended for another six months starting July 30, 2018, the Ministry announced.
"The period of the ban on permits to bring temporary expatriate manpower into private sector establishments for the professions specified in Ministerial Decision No. 38/2018 shall continue for a period of six months from July 30, 2018," according to the Ministry's online statement.
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