'Can I return to the UAE after absconding?'

Under the labour law, workers can receive a one-year employment ban if they fail to give notice that they have left their job

An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Dubai Airport. WAM
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I would like to know if I can enter the UAE if I have an absconding case against me. RS, The Philippines

The term “abscond” is used when an employee in the UAE does not return to work and fails to give notice that they have left their job. This results in a one-year employment ban.

The guidance for this situation can be found in Article 50 of the new UAE labour law under “Unlawful Absence From Work”.

“If the foreign worker leaves work, for an illegitimate reason, before the end of the contract term, he shall not be granted another work permit to join another job in the state in accordance with the provisions hereof, for a period of one year from the date of the absence from work,” the law says.

“It is also not permissible for any other employer, who is aware of the same, to employ him or keep him in his service during that period.”

A person with an absconding case against them will be unable to enter the UAE or secure employment in the country during this period. Absconding bans are not permanent, although someone who receives more than one could find that they end up with a permanent ban.

It has been eight months since I left the country because the company I worked for did not pay me properly. So far, my residency visa has not been cancelled. The company has not given a proper answer when asked why.

Can I request for you to cancel my residency visa for me, please? RSK, India

While I can help readers with many things, I cannot cancel a residency visa for them.

It is unusual for a company to fail to cancel a visa as they may receive a refund for doing so and they are likely to have a limited number of them.

The official process is that the sponsor — the employer in this case — must cancel a residency visa and also the work permit.

It is not necessary for the employee to be in the UAE for this to happen. Their original passport is not required as it is no longer necessary for the visa to be officially stamped as cancelled.

Contrary to many claims, no visa is automatically cancelled after 180 days outside of the UAE. It only becomes invalid and still needs to be cancelled.

If the employer refuses to cancel the visa, RSK should contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation as it can intervene and resolve the situation.

As he is outside of the UAE, he should use the online chat function on the ministry's website.

I note that RSK states that he was not paid by the employer, so if he is owed any income, he can include that claim in the case he raises with the ministry.

It is important that the visa is properly cancelled as failure to do so will cause problems should he wish to return to the UAE.

I have a query regarding an outstanding telecoms bill. I have not paid it for two months as I am short of money. I would like to know if it is possible to receive a travel ban from the immigration department because I have not paid the bill yet. NB, Abu Dhabi

The non-payment of a bill can result in an immediate or automatic travel ban.

If a person fails to pay a bill for a utility company, the first step is for the company to chase the payment and if none is forthcoming, the service will be cancelled.

The company will continue to try to collect the monies owed and follow up with the person several times.

However, if there is no communication and no payment forthcoming, the company can then take action against the person for non-payment of a debt.

Quote
In all cases, it is best to make regular arrangements to pay bills, loans and credit cards to avoid potential serious consequences
Keren Bobker

Any creditor can choose to register a police case for non-payment of a bill and the larger corporations will do so if the amount owed is substantial and the person has failed to reply to any request for payments.

A police case can be registered with a request for the court to approve a travel ban.

The information will then be passed to the Department of Immigration. This means that a person attempting to leave the UAE can be prevented from doing so and will be detained until the matter is resolved.

In all cases, it is best to make regular arrangements to pay bills, loans and credit cards to avoid potential serious consequences.

Even a partial payment is better than nothing and ignoring all calls in a situation such as this will only make the situation worse. If a company knows that the money owed will be repaid, even if not all at once, they are more likely to be reasonable.

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: September 11, 2022, 5:00 AM
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