x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Visas, savings accounts and lottery scams

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

My son is 19 years old and has been accepted to Mahe-Manipal University in Dubai's Academic City, beginning August 2008. He has a student visa. I have subsequently obtained a job in Abu Dhabi, and I am now a resident as well. My son would like to join me. I would like to know if he can transfer his visa from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. What does it require? AN Abu Dhabi AN's son is on a student visa issued by the university. It expires in September 2009, although his course does not end until 2012. Under UAE law, a teenager enrolled in full-time education can either be sponsored by a parent or by the educational institute. But his visa will be valid for no more than 12 months at a time, and can be renewed if he continues his course. He will need to switch to a standard-residency visa upon finding employment at the end of his schooling. If a visa is required from the university or college, the procedure is to apply to them directly. The costs will vary, but in certain cases if the educational institute is not fully accredited a deposit of as much as Dh5,000 is required. The alternative is for AN to sponsor his son. He must have a salary of at least Dh10,000 to do so, and should approach his company PRO to handle to paperwork.

I have recently moved to Abu Dhabi, but have a number of savings accounts back in England that I plan to keep. I have heard that it is possible to do something so that I do not pay tax on the interest I receive. PT Abu Dhabi Assuming you remain outside of the UK for at least a full tax year and are considered non-resident for tax purposes, you may apply to receive interest paid gross. You can apply to receive future interest without deduction of tax by providing your bank with a "not ordinarily resident declaration" on HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) form R85. This is available from the HMRC website (www.hmrc.gov.uk), and a form must be completed in respect of each account and sent to the relevant deposit taker. You should note, however, that not all banks choose to offer the facility of gross interest to non-residents, so please check with your bank first. If you have already had tax deducted, and you are not liable to pay it, you can request a refund. But in this case, PT will have to wait awhile in order to demonstrate that he is non-resident.

I have received a call on my Etisalat mobile number from another Etisalat customer saying that I have won a lottery. To claim the prize, I have been asked to call back on the same number. I know this is a fake call, and I think Etisalat needs to foster more awareness among the public. Some people might call and lose their money. I used to get missed calls from Pakistan at midnight. Etisalat needs to take proper action against these unsolicited calls.

AM Dubai I put AM's query to Etisalat, and a number of weeks later they responded as follows: "It is rather difficult to block individual phone calls since the content of the call cannot be ascertained until it is answered by the customer. Also, fraudsters may use many different numbers to call users, which might be difficult to track, detect and block. Etisalat proactively alerts its customers through the media to beware of such fraud and prank calls. Also, Etisalat customers who wish to block unsolicited messages can SMS the unwanted number to 1011. Customers can also call 101 to report such cases. Etisalat is also currently enhancing its anti-spam mechanism to block Spam messages from International senders as well." My advice to people who receive these unsolicited overseas calls is never to return the call, as it is possible that you could be using some sort of premium-rate number and end up with a significant bill.

I have been approached by someone who wants to give me financial advice. He has the letters FAIQ after his name and assured me he is qualified, but how do I check this out? What qualifications do you think an adviser should have? I am British, so I need someone who understands issues back home as well. JD Dubai Independent financial advisers in the UAE are usually licensed by the Ministry of Economy. But compared to the UK, regulation and compliance is minimal. There is also the Dubai Financial Services Authority, which is modelled after the UK Financial Services Authority. This body, however, is really just the regulator for the Dubai Independent Financial Centre, which is more of a base for banks and investment houses than advisers. British advisers take examinations from the Chartered Insurance Institute. To provide advice in the UK, the minimum requirement is to have passed the Certificate of Financial Planning (CFP). The CFP is considered the benchmark qualification, and comprises five units across a spread of issues, including retirement planning, protection, risk, regulation and ethics. Once this test has been passed, an individual can also take a number of specialist exams, and anyone who is serious will go on to take the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate (AFPC). The FAIQ is merely the financial advisers international qualification, which is a simple and rather basic multiple-choice examination and in no way comparable to the CFP or AFPC. Ideally, an adviser will have experience in working in a home-country regulated market, and thus used to working in an ethical manner and also able to advise expats on tax issues. This is a field where experience also counts. When engaging an adviser you should ask about both their qualifications and experience. Never deal with anyone unless you are satisfied that your best interests are being served.

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