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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

'What are the fines for overstaying on our UAE residence visa?'

This British couple want to remain in the country for 15 days after their visa cancellation grace period ends

The Abu Dhabi residents cancelled their visas this week. Photo: Bloomberg
The Abu Dhabi residents cancelled their visas this week. Photo: Bloomberg

I need information on overstaying after a residency visa has been cancelled. My husband and I cancelled our residence visas this week, which allows us 30 days before we have to leave or do a visa run. We are leaving the UAE so don’t really want the hassle of a visa run. We are hoping to stay in Abu Dhabi until March 1, which would be 15 days over the 30-day allowance. Do we get an extra grace period after the 30 days and if not, what are the fines each day? We are resident in Abu Dhabi and are British passport holders. DN, Abu Dhabi

Once a residency 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. The additional nine-day extension is a concession and is only for people with certain passports who are on tourist/visit visas.

If a person overstays after a residency visa is cancelled, the fine for the first day is Dh125 and then a further Dh25 for each subsequent day. This increases to Dh50 a day after six months. It is also worth noting that if someone significantly exceeds the grace period – by a period of 30 days or more – they could find that they are further penalised and even added to an immigration blacklist, which could prevent them from re-entering the UAE at a later date. The amnesty for overstayers, which was available for many months in 2018, has since expired. The fines for overstaying on a tourist visa are different.

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I have been made redundant by my employer. I am on a two-year limited contract. The company is buying a return ticket to my home country on a cheap airline where I have to pay the airline with my own money to take any luggage. From Dubai to my country there are going to be two stops so I have to pay on each stop for my two bags, which it will be too expensive for me. Can the company do this? I was given notice on January 6 and February 3 was going to be my one-year anniversary with the company. They didn't give me a notice period but they said they were going to pay the one-month notice period. Am I also entitled to the gratuity pay? LC, Dubai

As LC has been made redundant and will be leaving the UAE, the cost of the return flight is the responsibility of the employer. Article 131 of UAE Labour Law states: “The employer shall, upon the termination of the contract, bear the expenses of repatriation of the worker to the location from which he is hired, or to any other location agreed upon between the parties.” An amendment to the original law in 1986, adds that: “In the implementation of the provisions of the preceding article, repatriation expenses shall mean the price of the travel ticket as well as the rights of the worker stipulated in the employment contract or the regulations of the establishment with regards to the travel expenses of his family and the cost of shipping of his personal effects.” This is referring to the contract of employment where family are concerned but it is reasonable to assume that the intention of the law is that a person should be able to take personal belongings with them, at least a suitcase. In this case the employer should either pay for the cost of at least one bag, or upgrade the ticket to include luggage.

LC was not given a notice period but, by law, an employer must give an employee notice of at least 30 days, or more if specified in a contract. All benefits must remain in place for the notice period and this is deemed part of the period of employment. As this will be for more than one calendar year at the date of the official end date, an end of service gratuity is payable. This is calculated as 21 days of basic salary for each year of service.

In addition, as LC was on a fixed-term contract and terminated part way through, the employer is obliged to compensate her. Article 115 of Labour Law states: “Should the employment contract be of a determined term, and the employer rescind same… he shall be bound to compensate the worker for the damage incurred thereto, provided that the compensation amount does not exceed in any case the total wage due for the period of three months or for the remaining period of the contract, whichever is shorter unless otherwise stipulated in the contract.” LC is therefore entitled to a payment of three months’ salary.

As the employer is not adhering to the law, I recommend she contacts the Ministry of Human Resources (freephone number 800 60), or her local Tasheel office, as a matter of urgency to register a case and claim what is due.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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: January 20, 2019 04:14 PM

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