Apply for new visa six months before passport expires

Keren Bobker is on your side and answering questions that concern everybody.

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I have just stopped working with a hotel group because I recently received a job offer with another company. But the hotel that is arranging the new visa has stopped processing my paperwork, as I have only four months validity left on my current passport. I am trying to find out if there is a way around this. I already have a residency visa, so it is really just a change of sponsor. I am already in Dubai and have been here for several years. My new boss, however, is telling me that they cannot process the new visa and I have to get a new passport. As I am a Russian national this is likely to take at least a month and I am worried that the job offer will be withdrawn. Do you know if the information I am being told is correct or is there something else I can do? RF Dubai

According to the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, for a new visa to be issued it is necessary to have at least six months left on a current passport, even if the person has an existing Dubai residency visa. RF has no option but to go through the process of obtaining a new passport in order for a new visa to be issued. Happily, in this case, her new employer is keen to employ her and will wait, but the lesson to all is to renew a passport well before it expires.

Every day I seem to receive a number of unwanted text messages telling me about sales and offers in which I have no interest. I have called Etisalat, but the person on the phone did not appear at all interested and said there was nothing they could do to stop them. I know it's a minor problem, but it is irritating and I would love to hear a way of stopping them. Any ideas? ML Al Ain

There was a change in policy in the UAE regarding this issue which came into effect in July 2010. Strictly speaking a company should have your permission in order to send out such a SMS, although often they are sent because you have left a business card in a restaurant or have filled in a customer information card in a shop. For any company to now send such messages they must have your agreement in either paper or electronic form. Legitimate messages are obliged to include a free unsubscribe mechanism to allow people to opt out. This should be activated no later than 24 hours later. If you are now receiving messages without this facility you may make a formal complaint to the service provider. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, the provider is obliged to 1) acknowledge receipt of your complaint 2) provide a complaint reference number 3) investigate the complaint in a reasonable timeframe and 4) communicate the result to you. Another policy change worth noting is that companies are only permitted to send out such marketing SMS between 7am and 9pm, although my own experience is that many are not complying with this rule.

I have been in Dubai for nearly a year, but I still have a small company in the UK. It has been dormant so far, but I may start doing some work via the company while remaining employed here. I completed the HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) form P85 to declare myself as non-resident and received an acknowledgement. What I'd like to know is, in view of this and the fact that I will not be visiting the UK and effectively doing the work here, will I have any issues with tax in the UK? EH Dubai

Although you are considered a UK non-resident for tax purposes in respect of "overseas earnings", this is in respect of the income that you receive for work carried out outside of the UK and generally paid to you outside of the UK as well. If you carry on any business in the UK, or that business is transacted through your UK company, it is likely to be treated as UK income and thus taxable. Bear in mind, however, that you would usually draw income after costs to the company and can, to a certain extent, choose when to draw the monies and also have an annual personal allowance. In the current tax year, 2010/11 you would have to be in receipt of personal UK income in excess of £6,465 (Dh23,745) before you had any tax to pay. If your company is active, and has limited company status, you must keep annual accounts and submit these to HMRC each year.

I have just started work with a company, but despite having been there for a month, I still do not have my new residence visa or labour card. As I am Australian I was able to re-enter the UAE on a visitors visa after my previous visa was cancelled, and have since renewed that, but now I am working on a visitors visa. I have been told by friends that although many companies make their staff do this, it is illegal and not only can the company be fined, but I could be, too. Clearly I am very concerned as I don't want to get into any trouble. NG Dubai

The Ministry of Labour states that you must have a residency visa and labour card provided by your employer in order to take up employment, but they realise that it can take a few weeks for visas to be processed. Provided the application has been made immediately, and there is evidence to this effect, there is a grace period of 60 days maximum during which an individual may work without penalty.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter. Letters can also be sent to