‘Can my employer extend my visa after termination?’

The Abu Dhabi resident has asked his company to continue sponsoring him until he finds a new job

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Stock. A UAE visa in a passport. Monday, August 31st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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I was recently terminated from the company where I worked since 2013 due to Covid-19 related reasons. I agreed to this after a conversation with management and signed the termination letter. I served my one-month notice period, which ended on August 30. I am searching for a new job but it is hard to find one at this time. I have asked my HR department not to cancel my visa until December or until I find a new job. My current visa is valid until October 2022 but they are not willing to help.

Is there any UAE law about this that I can show to the company to get a visa extension? I have my family in the UAE as dependents. The HR department is in a rush to cancel my visa before August 30. SR, Abu Dhabi

The obligations of the employer depend on how they are regulated as there are variations between those governed by free zones and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

As stated in Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, generally referred to as the UAE Labour Law, and as stated in Article 3: “The provisions hereof shall not apply to the following categories: a) Employees and workers of the Federal Government and the governmental departments in the Emirates, members of the State, the employees and workers in public entities and institution, whether Federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, federal and local projects.”

That said, most government departments largely follow the provision of the law and in some situations, employees have additional benefits.

Although the visa may show an end date of October 2022, it is invalidated upon cancellation when employment ends.

In this situation, notice has been given so the company does not have to extend the visa, although there have been government statements encouraging employers to allow people to remain on a company visa for a period of time after their employment ends to allow them more time to find a new job. Not everyone is physically able to return to their home country at this time.

If no extension is provided, SR has a 30-day grace period after the cancellation of his visa and by this date, he needs to exit the country, or apply for a paid visit visa both for himself and his family. His dependents’ visas must be cancelled before his, so their grace period will end sooner. Note that if SR and his family overstay without obtaining new visas, they will each be subject to penalties of Dh125 for the first day and Dh25 for each subsequent day.

I worked in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 1992 to 1997. Unfortunately, I was deported because I broke the law. My partner and I would like to visit the UAE but we are unsure if I can enter the country because of my past. How I can find out if I can visit the UAE? SC, Australia

Due to being deported, SC will not be able to visit Saudi Arabia again but whether she can visit the UAE is a grey area. The immigration systems of countries in the GCC are separate, although some information is shared in criminal cases, but deportation or a legal issue in one GCC member country does not necessarily mean a blanket ban.

Deportation or a legal issue in one GCC member country does not necessarily mean a blanket ban

Information is shared for security reasons. In most cases, across all six GCC member countries, deportation is a permanent ban from entering a country unless it is specifically cancelled by the authorities following an application.

In order to find out if she is able to enter the UAE, SC will need to contact the immigration department in the emirate she wishes to enter as the relevant division of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs (GDRFA), which is part of the Department of Interiors, oversees the entry and exit of visitors to the UAE.

She will need to provide her passport details, both past and current, for this to be checked in the government systems. Each emirate has its own GDRFA but on the assumption that she plans to visit Dubai, the only emirate that is currently permitting tourists to enter, the contact details from outside the UAE are: +971 4 313 9999 or +971 4 501 1111. There is also an email address for enquiries: amer@dnrd.ae.

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