Thursday, October 28, 2021 | Rabi' al-awwal 21, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Oman launches long-term residency program for expat investors
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Muscat: The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotions (MOCIIP) on Wednesday launched a program for granting long-term residency to expat investors in the Sultanate.


Aimed at enhancing the investment quality in Oman and create more job opportunities, the “Investor Residence” program offers foreign investors and retirees the right to long-term stay in the Sultanate. Applications will begin from October 3 through an online system of MOCIIP.


A number of 22 investors of different nationalities have received their investment cards during the activation ceremony of the "Investor Residency" program.


As of 3rd October 2021, the Investment Services Center at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Investment Promotion MoCIIP will start receiving applications to obtain the investor residence electronically, according to MoCIIP.


The Investor Residency program aims at attracting and enhancing qualitative investments which are aligned with the objectives of the Oman vision 2040 and capable to contribute to the growth of the gross domestic product , creating job opportunities, enhancing the localization of industries, and transferring the advanced technology , strengthening the economic diversification in all productive sectors in accordance with a well-studied plan that enhances the investment environment as well as taking into account the security , legal , social and economic aspects .


The Investor Residency program also will contribute to simplifying investments procedures, tackling the administrative challenges that facing the investment procedures, helping in setting appropriate indicators to assess and measure the number of new foreign investment companies, the volume of foreign investment, and the new employment opportunities for Omanis.


The “Investor Residency” program is considered as an addition to the incentives and advantages offered by the Sultanate to investors, while the Sultanate’s foreign capital investment law offers various incentives to investors, including allowing the foreign investor to own 100% of the invested capital without specifying a minimum capital. The Sultanate also has launched the automatic licensing service for more than 1500 economic activities through the “Invest Easy” portal so as to facilitate the start of doing business in Oman.


According to MoCIIP , the number of automatic licenses that have been submitted through the electronic portal “Invest Easy” and through the service provider offices (Sanad) since the launch of the automatic licenses service on 4th April 2021, till Monday 27th September 2021 , reached to (62,896) automatic licenses, while the upcoming period will witness the launching of several programs and initiatives aim at enhancing the business environment and attracting foreign investments to the Sultanate.


Khalid bin Said Al Shuaibi, Advisor to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion for Trade Relations, stated : “ In line with the objectives of Oman's Vision 2040,which aims at diversifying and growing the national economic , raising the Sultanate's rating in international indicators , promoting foreign direct investment , balancing the governorates development , promoting and diversifying the Sultanate’s exports, and creating new jobs”


He added : The launch of the investor residency program comes in order to promote quality investments that contribute to the growth of the domestic product, creating job opportunities and supporting the national economy to align with the capabilities, pillars and objectives of the Oman vision 2040 “


Al Shuaibi pointed out that , the investor residency program is one of the milestones of the national program for attracting investments and promoting exports (Invest in Oman Program), which is being supervised by the Ministry of Commerce , Industry and Investment Promotion in cooperation with the Oman Investment Authority and the Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit”


This step is an essential step to develop appropriate indicators to evaluate and measure the number of new foreign investment companies, the volume of foreign investment and new employment opportunities for Omanis within the framework of this program to evaluate its effectiveness periodically and measure the financial and economic impact and develop it in proportion to each stage of the work. Khaled Al-Shuaibi added:


Al Shuaibi pointed out that one of the most important factors that push investors to choose the Sultanate as one of the important investment destinations is Oman’s strategic location which is close to the emerging markets in the Middle East, East Africa and India, in addition to its logistical network that enhances the reach of products to the largest segment of consumers at a competitive cost, as well as the Sultanate enjoys attractive investment environment, best ports in the Indian Ocean, best infrastructure , while it provides modern lifestyle and appropriate environment for families to live and stay in the country.


Briefing the criteria and requirements for obtaining an investor card in the Sultanate, Azzan bin Qassim Al Busaidi, Advisor to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion stated : “ The investor residency program has been approved with the aim at facilitating granting residency to the foreign investors who would like to invest in the Sultanate for periods ranging from 5 to 10 years, subject to extension in accordance with clear controls and procedures, provided that these residencies are not permanent.”


Upon obtaining the residency, the investor will be granted various encouraging advantages and incentives, provided that the regulations and standards to be adhered to throughout the specified residency period. Azzan added .


He clarified that, the criteria and conditions for granting the residence card within the investor residence program include two categories, as (the first category) relates to those who own housing units , while the residence applicant must own one or several fully constructed housing with a market value of not less than RO (500) thousand , and shall attach to the application a copy of the title deed and an authenticated purchasing contract registered at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning or an evaluation of the housing unit issued by a specialized valuation company approved by the Ministry or proof the housing unit value by the developer of the property .


He added that, the applicant also can establish a public/closed joint-stock company and must submit a certificate from one of the licensed brokerage companies operating in the Sultanate proving his ownership of shares with a market value of not less than RO (500) thousand.


The investor can also establish other companies where he must have a bank certificate issued by one of the banks/commercial banks operating in the Sultanate confirming the existence of the specified amount as a share of the residence applicant in the company’s account, or submitting a report issued by one of the approved auditing companies approved in the Sultanate proving the share of the residence applicant in these companies by not less than RO. (500) thousand.


Azzan emphasized that the investor residence applicant must own a company in which the number of Omani employees is not less than (50) Omani employees, while the applicant shall submit an official certificate from the Ministry of Labor or the Public Authority for Social Insurance showing the number of Omani employees in the company.


The applicant for the first category of residence card also must possess purchased of Omani governmental bonds of a market value of not less than RO (500) thousand , while the remaining period of these bonds should not be less than (2) two years.Azzan added .


As for the criteria and conditions for granting the second category of residence card within the investor residence program , the residence applicant must own one or several fully constructed housing with a market value of not less than RO (250) thousand and shall attach to the application a copy of the title deed and an authenticated purchasing contract registered at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning or an evaluation of the housing unit issued by a specialized valuation company approved by the Ministry or proof the housing unit value by the developer of the property . Azzan confirmed.


Azzan pointed out that the applicant for the second category of a residence card must submit a bank certificate issued by one of the banks/commercial banks operating in the Sultanate confirming the existence of the specified amount as a share of the residence applicant in his company’s account, or submitting a report issued by one of the approved auditing companies approved in the Sultanate proving the share of the residence applicant in these companies by not less than RO. (250) thousand.


The applicant for the second category of residence card also must possess purchased of Omani governmental bonds of a market value of not less than RO (250) thousand , while the remaining period of these bonds should not be less than (2) two years.Azzan added


Azzan Al Busaidi clarified that ,the retires who are interesting in obtaining the investor residency must prove that he has worked in the Sultanate by submitting (a work contract), provided that the total period of his work in Oman not less than two years, and must submit a six months (personal) bank statement from one of the operating banks in the Sultanate to prove that his monthly income is not less than RO (4000) and to submit a home title deed, or a residential lease contract in the name of the applicant along with an integrated curriculum vitae.


Azzan al-Busaidi stressed that “ Those who are interesting to invest within the Investor Residence program are required to meet a number of conditions, which includes that, the applicant’s age must be less than 21 years, to submit a valid health insurance for him, and for all his relative applicants , the age of the investor’s childrewho applied for the second category of the investor residency should be less than (25) years and must fulfill the documents required by the competent authorities,must pay the prescribed fees and must adhere to the regulations that organizing the investment in Oman, while the beneficiary of the program is not entitled to claim for Omani citizenship, except in accordance with the regulations in force in this regard.


He pointed out that , in case of the investor’s death, members of his family will be given a grace period of (90) days to adjust their situation, any of them may transfer his residence to the first or second category of the investor’s residence if he /she meets the required conditions.


The companies subject to the foreign investment law registered in the Sultanate and whose capital exceeds the specified amounts for the first and second category, can nominate one of the partners or its employees to obtain an investor residence of any of the categories, while the company has the right to nominate more than one partner or employee in the event that the company’s capital is multiples of the amounts specified in the procedures of the first and second category.


The residency shall not be forfeited in the event of a judicial ruling against the residency holder, unless the ruling decreed deportation from the country or in accordance with the provisions of the Aliens Residency Law.


The investor must submit a non-conviction certificate or its equivalent from his country, provided that it is authenticated by the competent authority and the Sultanate’s embassy in his country or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The fulfilling of all requirements is not a condition for obtaining the final approval of the application. In case any of the conditions according to which the investor obtained the residency permit during its period is not fulfilled, he must adjust his situation within a period not exceeding 3 months, renewable only once after the approval of the Minister. If the investor fails to adjust his situation during the specified grace period, the residency will be canceled.


Highlighting the incentives that investors will enjoy when they obtain the investor residency , the advisor to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion stated that , : “ The investor who obtained the first category of investor residency is being granted the right to own one property outside the integrated tourism complexes -ITCs, whether for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, while it is transferable to others, with the exception of owning lands that are prohibited for non-Omani “


He pointed out that, the holder of the first category of investor residency has the right to reside with his family without specifying the number of family members and without specifying their ages, while the holder of the second category of the investor residency can reside his children with a maximum age of 25 years old.


The investor residency gives its holder the right to use the corridors designated for Omanis at airports and ports, while the investor is allowed to open a bank account and issue visiting visas for relatives, he /she can also practice economic activities or work in the Sultanate with no need for a sponsor to obtain a work visa or work permit. He/she can also recruit domestic workers in private professions with a maximum of 3 .


Clarifying the procedures for submitting the application to obtain the investor residency, Azzan Al-Busaidi said: The application to be submitted through the Investment Services Center at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, via an electronic system that connects all concerned parties, which include the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, the main supervising body of the program In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, the Oman Credit and Financial Information Center (Mala’a), and in partnership with the Oman 2040 Vision Follow-up Unit, and the Ministry of Information (Government Communication Center).Accordingly the concern center will do the following steps : Evaluate the application in line with required procedures , determine the type of the required investment , and respond by approving the application within one month from the date of submission, while the failure to respond during the specified period ,means rejection for the application .


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