‘How do I cancel my residence visa if my sponsor goes missing?'

The Dubai resident must register a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation about the sponsor’s disappearance

An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Dubai Airport. WAM
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My visa will expire in December 2021 but there is no sign of my sponsor, who owns the business and is responsible for cancelling it.

How can I legally cancel my residence visa if the sponsor goes missing or is there a way of renewing it?

Alternatively, is there a provision to change status at the time of expiry to a new sponsor’s visa? RN, Dubai

This is an irregular situation as it is the employer’s responsibility to both obtain and cancel employment visas and an employee can't just cancel their own work-related visa.

I sought advice from Sarah Brooks, managing director of Dubai-based Fikrah HR, who has experience in dealing with such problems. She said: “My advice would be to register a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation in regards to the situation and the absenteeism of the sponsor, presuming you have already approached the company's HR department with your issue, but to no avail.

“The ministry will contact the sponsor and try to facilitate the cancellation or renewal. In the event that the sponsor has absconded, they will enable the cancellation and ultimate transfer of residency to a new employer or sponsor as needed.”

This is the situation for a mainland employer. If someone is employed in a free zone, their sponsor will be the free zone itself. So, if the owner of a company is not around, the person needs to contact the main office of the free zone to organise the cancellation of their visa.

My visa was cancelled two weeks ago. I have heard that the 30-day grace period has been increased to either 90 or 180 days. Is this right? Can I stay in the UAE for longer? RD, Sharjah

UAE residents still have a grace period of 30 days after visa expiry to either amend their status by obtaining a new residence visa, applying for a visa or leaving the country
Keren Bobker, Holborn Assets

A few weeks ago, there was an announcement about coming changes as part of “Projects of 50” that include several reforms to the entry and residency system.

One of the many proposals is an extension of the grace period upon job loss to either 90 or 180 days, but this has not come into effect yet.

At the time of writing, UAE residents still have a grace period of 30 days after visa expiry to either amend their status by obtaining a new residence visa, applying for a visit visa or leaving the country.

I was hired from abroad on an unlimited contract for a company in Abu Dhabi.

My employment start date was July 4, 2021, but I did not sign an employment contract until July 25. The company then abruptly decided to move me from one place to another. I would like to resign now.

Can I resign after serving the one-month notice and not pay any fines if I quit during the six-month probation? Is it OK to resign because I was moved from the original place of employment to another? BT, Abu Dhabi

There are a number of issues to be addressed here.

Employees should be provided with a contract of employment before they start working for a company so that they are fully aware of the terms of employment and company procedures and guidelines.

An employer should apply for a residence visa and work permit by the time a person starts working, not several weeks later. Both parties need to sign a labour contract to make an application.

As BT is on an unlimited contract, he is able to resign at any time but, in accordance with the law, he must give the employer a written notice.

This is generally covered by Article 117 of the UAE Labour Law, which states: “The employer and the worker may terminate the employment contract with undetermined term for valid grounds at any time subsequent to the conclusion of the contract, and such after notifying the other party thereof in writing at least 30 days prior to the termination thereof.”

If an employment contract refers to a longer notice period and both parties agree to this, it can be longer but this is often not the case.

Provided proper notice is given, BT is not liable to pay any fines or compensation to the employer. No employer is permitted to pass on any visa or employment costs and there is no financial penalty for resigning with proper notice if on an unlimited contract.

An employee can resign without having to provide a reason for the resignation. But, in a situation like this, they should not have any penalty, even on a limited term contract. If the employer makes a significant change to the terms of employment, such as relocating the place of work to somewhere that is far away, as this would be a change of contract terms.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 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: November 08, 2021, 9:33 AM