'How can I check if a UAE travel ban is still active?'

By law, travel bans usually last for one year and are automatically lifted at the end of the period

Airline travelers wait to clear immigration control at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates on August 25, 2016. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
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I overstayed in the UAE after my employer cancelled my work visa as part of a series of layoffs before the 2020 pandemic. The visa was cancelled in July 2020 and I left the country in January 2021.

At the airport, customs gave me the option to pay half of the amount owed for overstay fines with the caveat of a one-year travel ban to the UAE instead of paying the fines in full. I took this option.

Now, more than a year after I left UAE, I wonder if I can travel to the UAE. I have a passport that allows me to get a visa on arrival. How can I find out if the travel ban is still active and what can I do? RR, US

RR has not advised which emirate his visa was issued in but the advice is broadly the same. If a full 12 months has passed, the travel ban will have expired and should be removed from the immigration system.

But the sensible course of action is to check this, as there are occasional cases in which the removal of a travel ban has been overlooked or the system has not updated as it should.

If RR had a Dubai residency visa and still has his Emirates ID number, he can check the travel ban on the Dubai Police app. He can also email mail@dubaipolice.gov.ae.

For someone who had a visa issued in Abu Dhabi and has their ID number, they should use the Estafser e-service.

If RR had a visa from one of the other five emirates, or no longer has an ID number, he will need to contact the General Directorate of Residents and Foreigner Affairs, which has a main office in each emirate, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The websites give several options for making contact to check the visa status of an individual.

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Watch: New UAE labour laws come into effect

I work in a company of 30 employees and, except for management, we all do the same job. There really is no difference with the hours we work and most of us have been with the company for two or three years.

I recently found out that we are all paid different amounts. The men are paid more than the women and it is also different depending on our nationality.

My friends here all agree that this is unfair but is there anything we can do? Is it legal to pay staff based on if they are male or female and where they come from? PL, Sharjah

The UAE has laws that specify that all expatriates should be treated equally and fairly. It is covered in the labour law under Federal Decree-Law No 33 of 2021, which came into effect on February 2 this year.

Article 4 of the law, titled Equality and Non-discrimination, states: “Any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, national or social origin or disability which would have the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity, or prejudicing equal treatment in the employment, the maintenance of a job and the enjoyment of its benefits, is prohibited. Employers are prohibited to discriminate against workers in jobs involving similar tasks.”

It then goes on to say: “A woman is granted a wage equal to the wages of a man if she performs the same work, or an alternative work of equal value. By a resolution of the Cabinet, upon the Minister’s proposal, the procedures, terms and standards necessary for evaluating work of equal value shall be issued.”

Employees have the right to raise a case against an employer with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, as they are breaking the law if everyone does the same work and there is a large disparity in what they are paid.

There are usually some differences due to length of service and seniority but it should not be based on sex or nationality.

If several employees register a case with the ministry, or if all staff ask the company that they are paid equally and fairly that may be beneficial.

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

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Updated: September 25, 2022, 5:00 AM
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