x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Suspicious offer, mobile roaming and spouse visas

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

I am a placement tutor for civil engineering programmes at Nottingham Trent University in England. I have a Malaysian student pursuing his bachelor's degree in civil engineering, and he has been offered employment for his one-year placement with a Chinese company on a construction project in Abu Dhabi. The salary offered to my student is Dh1,200 per month with the option to increase to Dh1,500 per month, after three months. This seems incredibly low, but so far I have not been able to find out what a reasonable salary would be in Abu Dhabi. My student has been told that accommodation is provided, but he will be sharing a room with a number of unspecified colleagues. He has also been told that his initial visa would be valid for 60 days, and then he would have to leave the country and re-enter to buy another visa. Any information or advice that you can provide would be appreciated.

PS Nottingham, UK Considering the standard of education that PS's student has achieved, and the fact he is a trainee civil engineer, the salary being offered is very low indeed. Therefore, I am concerned that he is actually being offered a position as a labourer, with commensurate benefits. It also appears that the company is expecting the student to come in on a tourist visa and then renew it himself by leaving the country. This standard of practice is illegal, as an employer should provide a proper residency visa and work permit. Employing someone without these certifications is against the law. The only alternative is for the employer to apply for a temporary work visa, known as a mission visa, but this is only available for a maximum of 180 days, so it is not appropriate in this situation. Due to the amount of issues and the significant fact that the company has not responded to inquiries, I would not recommend that PS's student accept the placement and I hope he will report the company to the Ministry of Labour for violating the law.

Do you know if I can use my Etisalat mobile phone in Europe? Is there anything that we need to do to be able to use the phones? MB Abu Dhabi If you have a contract phone with Etisalat then you will need to register for their roaming service. International roaming is automatically provided to all UAE nationals who have contracts with Etisalat, as well as to companies fully owned by UAE nationals. Non-UAE nationals and companies not fully owned by UAE nationals have to apply to use the service, and pay Dh2,000 as a security deposit. The deposit is refundable at the time of cancellation or disconnection of the international roaming service. Alternatively, it is possible to provide a bank or company guarantee at any Etisalat branch before using the service. A specific Etisalat application and a copy of your passport copy is required to sign up for the service. If you have a pre-paid (Wasel) phone then the service should be automatically available. In all cases, additional charges apply for both receiving and making calls and SMS's when outside of the UAE.

I am a British resident in the UAE. My father who lives in the UK, wants to give sums of money to my son, but I think that my father may be limited as to what he can transfer over here by UK tax rules. Can you shed some light on this? I do not want my father to lose any money helping us out. GF Dubai If your father makes a significant gift to your son and dies within the next seven years, the amount gifted is likely to be subject to UK tax on a sliding scale, as this would be deemed a potentially exempt transfer. All UK residents have annual exemptions where the amounts gifted are outside of the UK inheritance tax limit. There is a standard annual exemption of £3,000 (Dh17,900), plus unlimited small gifts (for different recipients) of £250 (Dh1,500). Individuals may also make gifts when someone marries without any tax implication.

My husband and I have been in Dubai for some time, but as we were both employed, we are on individual residence visas. My husband was recently made redundant and, due to his profession, it appears that it could be some time before he will have another job. I'd like to know if it is possible for me to sponsor him, as I understand that wives can sponsor their husbands, but only in specific circumstances.

CG Dubai For many years it has been possible for wives to sponsor their husbands if the woman is in certain professions, such as doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher, with a minimum monthly salary of Dh10,000. There appears to be more flexibility for people working in certain free zones such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, but upon checking with Dubai Naturalization & Residency Department (DNRD) it seems that the standard rules are being relaxed in certain circumstances, although no new rules have been published. I understand that the woman must be educated to degree level and have a salary in excess of Dh10,000, although the higher the salary is, the better. Each case is decided on merit, so anyone who wants to do this would be advised to contact DNRD to inquire about their situation, although the company PRO should be able to assist. You will need to provide the DNRD with a letter from your employer confirming your salary and contract details, attested degree certificate and marriage certificate, as well as both passports. The rules vary slightly between emirates.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. She can be reached at keren@holbornassets.com