MUSCAT, July 4 – Expatriates now have more flexibility vis-à-vis the visa transfer. A sponsor can shift a certain type of visa to another — work or temporary work visa — on payment of a fee of RO 50. Switching of the visa can be done without the need for a sponsored expatriate to leave the country, said Brigadier-General Ahmed bin Sultan al Nabhani, Director-General of Foreign Residency and Passports. He said there is no change in the fines imposed for violation of the Foreign Residency Law. However, there is a slight change in the definition of the non-departure violation in case the visa expires. He clarified that the visa is a permit allowing a foreigner to enter the Sultanate under specific conditions, including that the foreigner has a valid passport for a period not less than six months.
“Entry will not be denied to a foreigner provided he/she has an employer, citizens of countries who are allowed to enter the Sultanate without a sponsor, in addition to other conditions prescribed for each type of visa,” he said. According to him, the new amendments include increasing the validity of some visas prior to arrival in the Sultanate, including educational and family joining visas and the contracting visa for employment. The Brigadier-General said the new amendments include increasing the validity of some visas prior to arrival in the Sultanate, including the visa, visa of the owner, visa to join the owner and the contracting visa for employment, which requires the new amendment to enter Oman within three months from the date of issue.
Expatriate employees working in government sector in the Sultanate can now sponsor and bring domestic helps. Brigadier-General Al Nabhani said the sponsorship will be allowed based on the work permit a foreign employee has with the Ministry of Manpower. According to him, the new decision (No 129/2018) issued on June 13 by Lt Gen Hassan bin Mohsin al Shraiqi, Inspector General of Police and Customs, states that ‘foreigners working in the government sector’ is added to Clause 1 of Article 14 in the old decision, which defines sponsorship rules. “This is a privilege being given to foreign employees in the government sector,” he said in a statement, referring to the new amendments made in sponsorship rules.
Earlier, visas for housemaids were issued only through sponsorship of the government entity where a foreign worker was employed. “Now the expatriate employees in government entities can get the housemaid visa directly under his sponsorship,” he said. He also said the amendments also allow foreigners who own certain properties in the Sultanate to receive a visa without a sponsor. The new decision includes changes and additions to Articles 1, 2, 10, 14, 29, and 30 of Decree No 63/96. “Amendments to the executive regulations of the Foreign Residency Act are aimed at aiding tourism growth in the country with different visa options to attract foreign tourists,” he said.
Brigadier-General Al Nabhani said all types of visas will be available electronically via the e-Visa system as well as upon access to the ports of entry. With these rules, foreigners residing in the GCC countries with specific professions can now visit the Sultanate for tourism without a sponsor. “The holder is entitled to enter the Sultanate once and stay there for a period of four weeks,” he said. According to Brigadier-General Al Nabhani, the latest amendment also includes the addition of a 10-day tourist visa for a fee of RO 5. “The tourist visa, with its new amendments, gives the foreigner the freedom to choose between the available periods of 10 days, a month or a year, in accordance with his circumstances,” he said.