Oman expatriate labour ban: Catch 22 faced by business on expats NOCs

For illustrative purpose only. Photo - Times file

Muscat: Businesses in Oman will lose an expat visa from their company quota if they issue no objection certificates (NOC) to employees wanting to move to other jobs within the Sultanate, say officials.

The Ministry of Manpower and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) confirmed to Times of Oman that the only way an expat worker seeking to move employers can avoid being forced to leave the country for two years, even if they have completed their initial contract, is to obtain the NOC from their current boss. However, the ministry and the ROP clarified that an expat worker with an NOC can transfer companies inside Oman, even before that initial contract is complete.

But the rules mean that company bosses must choose between giving the certificate and then being unable to hire another expat, thus reducing the number of foreigners the business can employ, or refusing to issue the NOC.

An official at the Ministry of Manpower confirmed, "In case an expatriate worker exits the country after getting his visa cancelled, the employer is eligible to get a visa in place of that employee. "However, if the expatriate worker  goes to new company with an NOC within the country, the old employer will not get a visa in his place."

Both the ministry and ROP also confirmed that even if an employee completed their initial contract and they wanted to quit their job and leave the country, they could only return to work in Oman within two years if they had already secured an NOC and used it to get a new visa with their new employer before exiting the Sultanate.

If not the expat must stay away for the two years. The only exception to this rule is if the expat who has left the country is rejoining his previous employer. In this case an NOC is not necessary.

A managing partner of a private company, who does not want to be named, said that generally no company would give the no objection certificate or clearance for an employee to join another company, saying the Ministry of Manpower would not give another clearance for another foreign employee.

This is a major issue, he said, especially when companies carry out time-sensitive projects, as they cannot afford to lose experienced hands.

Opinion remained divided on the latest ruling with many flocking the Times of Oman Facebook page to express either support or concern. Muazzam Ali Arbab said, "Well that's good news, but it is not that easy to get a 'NOC' from the employer."

Yolanda Elena Sevgen posted, "It would depend on the situation I guess. My husband got his NOC easily as his contract was coming to an end anyway and his employers didn't want to hold him back - they encouraged him to move forward and wished him the
best of luck.

"Depends how forward thinking your employer is, I don't think international companies or unselfish employers will refuse especially since you've completed your first two years anyway.

Samia Mansour said, "As what everyone is saying, NOC is very difficult to obtain."

Aziza Al Busaidy posted, "Many companies give NOC if employee pays for initial costs of bringing them over which is fair enough after all why should they pay for you to come over so you can go and work for someone else. I am against Sponsorship System as it places a big burden on companies."


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Reader Comments

The Rule is OK but the NOC after two years is very bad rule, and then now Omani will start a new business of NOC sale,

I think if any body will complete his agreement it should be free of NOC rule. its not good he will complete his agreement and then he is forced his last boss its injustice.

this is an very inhuman law Sultanate is going to implement. It will give wrong message to world about this good country which is having best command. All expats are praying this law should be cancelled. Hope this country will not disappoint expats. Especially this time there will be announcement of Noble Peace Award.

This is nothing but helping the big companies to have a rule of dictatorship over their employees as due to fear of losing bread butter if che wants to change over for a better career so this decision and rule implementation cannot be only of ministry of lsbour they must have definstely taken opinion of few vchairmans and directors of big distributors in oman feeling sorry for the staff who would like to accept challenges and grow but yes they have a opportunity to go to other country and expolre their capability and talent they are carrying but yes this is nothing but companies are loosing their experienced team to the competitors as omans buisness is growing and oman has changed a lotwith the support of locals and expats so ministry of labour should understand the problems of expats also and brfore implementing it should have take the opinion polls of the expats on random

backward rule in a forwarding country !!

nobody wil wait 2 year to come to oman.wil go other contry

There should not ban for those who worked 4 years with same sponsor then both side win win situation.

My Contract Period already completed and i want to join new company but the current company is not interested to give NOC, then what to do, i know its much rush in manpower for new.

Is there anything called "labour welfare" left in Oman??
If there is, it should be aptly changed to " Employer welfare"..

No offence, the ban should be applied on certain nationalities and professions. The overwhelming majority is consisting of Indians so does the amount of issues they have generated across the years which finally led to this pathetic ban decision. Why shall the small European or American communities suffer along with them? The Westerners come here on high profile jobs, most of them joined by their families. Probably they would also get NOC without hassle, but the ban should be on the main source of troubles.

If you are ignorant, then please stay away from passing stupid comments. I challenge you to list out at least 20 serious issues committed by Indians in this country? I guess you really have to do some geography lessons again. Forget high-profile job, there are so many westerners roaming in and across Arab countries with underserving jobs and pay scales. I personally know at least 30 of them who have got into companies fooling the management with just the English language, skin colour and no professional competencies at all. Some of those peeps ran away looting thousands of Rials from their employers. I suggest you to try hard to get a train ticket from 19th century. Grow Up!
Btw, didnt you get a high profile job in your country?

Someone is saying westerners to be exempted and Indians to be banned? westerners are getting employed at top level to deal clients and consultants, that is white color job. But the Indians and other nationalities have jobs from sweepers to Middle management / top management, do westerners will clean Muscat city or do carpentery / masonry jobs? do oman have local workforce to do that? until oman become self sufficient in low level to top level taskforce, expats are necessary. Most of the developments, infrastructure, commercial, etc are evolved because of the helps of Expats. Just because of few persons dont blame overall community, 5 years back I was attacked and robbed by local youths one fine evening near CBO, I went to ROP, no one ready to listen and no one was showing interest to listen, first try to streamline local educational system to all and workforce training to all youths. All of a sudden nothing will happen in this country. Progressive improvement of local workforce to all levels automatically cut short the expats. We are happy to see that! Compare the UAE, how they manage the situation? now they are one of the leading Commercial hub in gulf.

NO more local news paper JOB adds for Expats

Is the rule covers all professions? I mean it will also implement on Health professionals (like Doctors,Medics, pharmacist) also. Because Doctors and others health professional have to pass a very tough MOH exam to get the license that is renewable within 02 years while working in oman and within one year after depart otherwise it will be considered as cancelled. so if this implement and some doctor finish his 1st contract or cancelled his 1st visa, then if he has to complete 02 years he will loose his License and if want to come back to oman, again he has to pass the MOH exam etc.?? then this rule will effect Doctors more than all other profession. Did the officials think of this.???
Somebody have any idea regarding this.??

If Employee is terminated by the employer without mentioning any proper reason.In that case employee will stay at home country for two yeras. Is it like that.?

I find no rational link between Omanisation and the 2 Yr Ban. This is only a game play of big corporates on enforcing their wits. A carrot -stick rule of Win-Loose. Thoroughly appaled at this decision.

this is a bad news for others like i can feel that my boss will not give up his clearance so i will not be able to get a NOC..even the reason for leaving the current is valid (not getting my salary for more than 8 months but doesnt want to take legal action as much as possible) need to find new sponsor before the new law will be implemented.