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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

How long can I overstay on a UAE residence visa before I am fined?

The reader, whose visa expired on October 1, wants to know the consequences of remaining in the Emirates beyond the expire date

Once an expatriate's residence visa expires, they must leave the country immediately. Photo: The National
Once an expatriate's residence visa expires, they must leave the country immediately. Photo: The National

My visa expired on October 1. Can I stay here in UAE until November 1 without a fine? What date do I have to leave the UAE by and what happens if I overstay? HM, Abu Dhabi

Once the visa has been officially cancelled a person has a 30-day grace period and must exit the UAE before this expires to avoid fines for illegally overstaying. In this case, HM needed to have left by October 1 to avoid a penalty. If someone overstays, either as they have not arranged to leave, or a new employment visa is not processed in time, a penalty is payable. The fine for the first day is Dh125, and then a further Dh25 for each subsequent day. There is also a further service fee of Dh100 on exiting the country. Note that anyone that significantly exceeds the grace period, ie by a further 30 days or more, could find that they have extra penalties to face with their name added to an immigration blacklist. This could prevent them from re-entering the UAE at a later date. The fines for overstaying on a tourist visa are different.

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I work for a Sharjah hotel via a free zone visa with an unlimited contract. I am planning on resigning because I have the opportunity of a better job. I am still in the probation period but the company is asking me to pay them 45 days' salary plus recruitment costs. I can pay the recruitment costs but is it necessary to also pay the 45 days if I leave during the probation period? SD, Sharjah

SD states that he is on an unlimited contract so there is no specific monetary penalty for resigning. The penalty of half of 90 days salary, per Article 116 of UAE Labour Law, only applies to limited/fixed term contracts. I note that the employer has also asked SD to repay any recruitment costs and this is also against the law. It is stated in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6 that the employer is responsible for all recruitment and employment expenses and these should not be passed on to the employee. If the employer persists in requesting these sums, SD should register a formal case at his local labour office or via the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation helpline, telephone number 800 665.

When resigning during a probationary period, the employee should still give 30 days’ formal notice and even if on an unlimited contract a person can receive an employment ban of six months depending on the skill category of their job. Employees in skill categories one to three will not face a ban in this situation but workers in skill categories four and five can only move to another employer without a six-month bam after completing a period of not less than six months with their current employer.

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I have left the UAE and my residence visa was cancelled in March 2017, but I kept my bank account open and there is a credit card linked to it. I don’t have a loan or any money outstanding on the credit card and still have some money in the bank account. My question is - do I have to close my bank account completely now that I have left the UAE to avoid the risk of it being frozen or something happening? DH, Netherlands

It is not essential to close a bank account on leaving the UAE although, if someone has no plans to return, it is probably wise to do so for the sake of good order. I assume that DH has not told the bank that he has left, as they would have cancelled the credit card to avoid any liabilities being accrued. It is also likely they would have changed the type of bank account now that no salary is being paid to it. Where someone plans to return to the UAE or even to visit, there can be benefits to retaining a bank account but they need to ensure it is marked correctly and that no charges are accruing in their absence. It is common for accounts to be frozen if someone changes job or they leave with debts, or even potential debts, so I would recommend cancelling the credit card in the first instance to prevent this from happening. DH should then notify the bank of his new contact details. If there are no debts, there should be no issue with his new location.

He should also be aware that if no transactions are recorded on an UAE bank account for a period of six months, then it is likely to be marked as dormant and he would have no access to any monies in the account until it is reactivated by the bank.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 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.