Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

'Can I return to the UAE after receiving a ban four years ago?'

The former Dubai resident says she overstayed on her visa by three months in 2016

The reader, who now lives in Sweden, wants to return to Dubai. AFP
The reader, who now lives in Sweden, wants to return to Dubai. AFP

I overstayed in Dubai by three months in 2016. When I left my eyes were scanned at the immigration office and I was told I would not be allowed to return to Dubai again. It is almost four years since I was banned, so can I apply for a visa now and will I be allowed to enter the country again? EW, Sweden

Until June 2018, someone who overstayed on a visa usually received a lifetime ban. This means any subsequent visa applications would be denied. Even if an application got through the system because of a change of passport or name, an eye scan on entry meant the person was stopped at immigration.

Since the change in the rules, there is a three-month grace period for overstaying before punitive action is taken and more leniency especially where the overstay was not for very long. Article 28 of the UAE Immigration Law states: "An alien who has been deported may not return to the country except with special permission from the Ministry of Interior". I have heard of such bans being overturned on application although there is no guarantee this will happen.

To find out if a previous lifetime ban can be lifted EW must contact the General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, which is part of the Ministry of Interior. The website www.gdrfad.gov.ae lists several contact numbers. Alternatively, a lawyer can be engaged to perform this service for a fee.

My workplace only accepts resignations from staff if they give six months’ notice of their intention to leave and only in the month of January. If staff resign in any other month, they incur massive financial penalties, including the loss of their end-of-service benefits. What would happen if an employee were to abscond and leave his or her job in the UAE, without giving the required notice period, before immediately taking up employment in another GCC country without cancelling the UAE employment visa? BK, Abu Dhabi

I understand this is a mainland employer, so UAE Labour Law applies. It is unusual for anyone to give six months’ notice and even then it would be expected only for senior management on unlimited contracts. The UAE Government website specifically states that for anyone on a limited contract the maximum notice period is three months. The labour law makes no mention of a maximum notice period for unlimited contracts, so if a contract is signed by an individual accepting such terms it is likely to be legally valid. I suggest checking the labour contract lodged with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to check if this contract states six months’ notice. The terms in that contract are considered legally binding.

An employer cannot specify the dates when an employee can resign and that is not a reasonable request. It's unlikely that such a restrictive contract would be acceptable to the MoHRE because employers are not permitted to apply random penalties on employees when they leave service or to withhold any end-of-service benefits. The only time a penalty can be applied on leaving service is if an individual breaks the terms of a limited term contract. That penalty is for an amount equivalent to no more than 50 per cent of earnings for a period of three months, per Article 116 of UAE Labour Law.

If an employee leaves without giving notice, the employer can apply for an absconding ban. That is usually a one-year ban but in some cases an individual can be blacklisted. The visa would be cancelled at the time of the ban.

In a situation like this I suggest employees contact the MoHRE for advice or register a case against the employer.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only

Updated: February 15, 2020 03:52 PM

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