x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Over 60s brigade are still eligible for a UAE residency visa

Tt is now possible for someone over the age of 60 to have a UAE residency visa, although it is usually for a period of one year at a time.

It is possible to remain on a UAE residency visa and contract if you are seconded to another place of work for a period of time. Andrew Parsons / The National
It is possible to remain on a UAE residency visa and contract if you are seconded to another place of work for a period of time. Andrew Parsons / The National

My husband's company has posted him out of the UAE on an assignment contract and his visa is due for renewal. The company now says that he no longer needs a UAE visa and he would not get one anyway as he is over 60. My husband still has a bank account and vehicles in Abu Dhabi and, therefore, we believe he needs a visa to have these. He is paid in dirhams and his company says it is not a problem for him to have the bank account and draw on it even without a visa. Is this legal? Also, as he is still on the original Abu Dhabi contract, will this situation affect his gratuity? OC Abu Dhabi

It is now possible for someone over the age of 60 to have a UAE residency visa, although it is usually for a period of one year at a time. It is not essential to have a residency visa to have a bank account, but once residency is cancelled, a UAE driving licence is technically not valid and you can only drive a rental vehicle, not a privately owned one. If your husband is on a UAE employment contract, he ought to have a related residency visa because this is also an issue if you want to rent a property and you cannot register with the Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority. The company really has no option but to renew his visa. The end-of-service gratuity is payable when an employee stops working for a company. It is possible to remain on a UAE residency visa and contract if you are seconded to another place of work for a period of time.

I am employed on an unlimited contract. I have been with my company for just over a year and submitted an application to take part of my annual leave. This was officially approved, but just one week later I was told that I was to be made redundant. I was given 30 days' written notice. My last day of employment is three days prior to the start of my approved annual leave. Once the leave was approved, and before I received the letter about redundancy, I booked tickets for my family to fly to Australia over Christmas on a non-refundable basis. I have tried to get these changed, but am unable to do so. I now cannot surrender my visa for cancellation until my return and will incur numerous costs that I might not have otherwise done had I known my employment contract was about to be terminated. In other jurisdictions around the world, an employer is not permitted to do this and employees are able to take legal action against the employer to get compensation for any financial losses. In Australia, an employer is not permitted to terminate employment just prior to annual leave and the notice period has to start afterwards. I would like to know if there is a similar precedent in the UAE and what, if any, constraints on these actions exist for employers here. GW Dubai

In accordance with the UAE Labour Law for an employee on an unlimited contract, all an employer is obliged to do is give you 30 days' written notice of redundancy. You cannot make a claim for any private arrangements you may have entered into and any legal action you enter into is likely to be costly and not be successful. If annual leave has accrued and not been taken at the time of your last day of employment, the employer must pay you for those days in addition to your salary for the last month.

I have had my final clearance letter from HSBC following the repayment of a loan, but am a little confused by some of the wording on it. The last sentence, is what I'm unsure about. "No Liability Letter for Overdraft: XXX, Loan Account: XXX, Credit Card Numbers: XXX and XXX. We confirm that whilst the outstanding balance including accrued interest as at close of business on November 7th 2012 on the above accounts were AED XXXX, we have accepted AED XXXX as full and final settlement and your liability against these cards, overdraft and loan has been cancelled. This letter is given at your request, without any responsibility or guarantee on the part of the bank or any of its signing officers." CC UK

It is standard practice for banks to issue such a letter, for which there is a fee. In my view, the last sentence is a formality, probably required by their legal department, but as the letter clearly states that "we have accepted AED XXXX as full and final settlement and your liability against these cards, overdraft and loan has been cancelled". This is a phrase widely used, and legally accepted, as confirmation that all debts have been settled and nothing else is owed. I would not be concerned, but if you travel to the UAE, or are transiting through here, you may feel more secure if you have a copy of the letter with you. I have known of issues where debts are still registered on the immigration system for people who have left the UAE, even though the debt has been settled in full.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com

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