'Can a divorced woman stay in the UAE without a visa?'

The Dubai resident, from India, wants to remain in the Emirates with her son after her divorce is finalised

Divorce wedding ring on dictionary. Getty Images

I am divorcing my husband and I will be getting the apartment we own. This means I will stay in Dubai with my son. The apartment is small and we bought it a long time ago so it is not worth enough to get a property visa and I will be living off savings for a while before I look at getting a job at the end of this year once I've finished getting some qualifications. My ex-husband won't be sponsoring me and I think he may leave the country. As I have an Indian passport I can't easily extend my visa to stay here. A friend has told me there is a way of a divorced woman staying without a sponsor but is this a possibility for me in my situation? RH, Dubai

The good news for RH is that in October 2018 the UAE introduced a new visa for widowed and divorced women. This allows widowed and divorced women, and their children, to apply for a one-year residence visa extension without a sponsor; the visa is valid from the date of death of the husband or of the divorce. This type of visa can only be renewed once.

Conditions apply, namely that the husband sponsors the woman and any children at the time of death or divorce. Also the visas must be valid at that time and a child's residency period must not exceed the mother's.  Applications must be submitted via the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs in the relevant emirate with evidence of the death or divorce, proof of a place to live, medical fitness certificates for anyone aged 18 or over, and a source of income. You will also need proof of medical insurance if resident in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. There is a cancellation fee of Dh100 for the cancellation of each existing visa and a further fee of Dh100 for each of the new one-year visas.

I was working for a small company and did some part-time work on the side for another business as I had spare time. I have now been terminated for breach of contract. My employer is asking me to pay them Dh4,000 as cancellation costs and saying they will send me to jail and not return my passport. What rights do I have at this point? Do I need to pay them anything? The company is in Abu Dhabi and I have worked for them for four years.  PC, Abu Dhabi

The law in the UAE is clear in that where a person is employed on a full-time basis they are only permitted to work for their sponsor. While there are cases where a person may take on additional work, this can only be with the express written approval of the sponsor. This was not the case, so PC was rightly dismissed for breach of contract and this will be a standard clause in all UAE employment contracts. Article 120 of UAE Labour Law states: "The employer may dismiss the worker without prior notice in any of the following cases … should the worker fail to perform his main duties in accordance with the employment contract." This applies to this case as the contract forbids additional employment. As PC has been dismissed in accordance with Article 120 of the law, the end of service gratuity is also forfeit as per Article 138 of UAE Labour Law.

Despite the circumstances, the employer cannot ask PC to repay any fee in relation to her employment. It was made clear in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6, that all expenses incurred in taking on an employee must be borne by the employer and cannot be passed on to the employee.

The employer cannot send anyone to jail, no matter the circumstances, and has no right to retain a passport once the visa cancellation has been processed. In respect of the employer requesting payment and retaining the passport, PC need to make an immediate case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (helpline number 800 66473) or her local Tasheel office.

I finished a two-year fixed employment contract and the company made me sign another contract, also for two years, but there is no increase in my salary. Can they do this to me? SK, Sharjah

No one is obliged to sign a second fixed-term contract with any employer, and cannot be forced to do so, but if they do not want to renew, they should advise the employer prior to expiry. In this case, the issue is about the salary not being increased. The employer is not legally obliged to raise a salary, even if it has not been increased for two years. However, SK has signed the contract so from a legal perspective she has agreed to the terms. I can only suggest she tries to talk to the employer to discuss a cost of living increase in her income.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 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