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Expats above 60 can renew work visa: MoL

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Muscat: Expatriate employees who attained superannuation but willing to continue work in the Sultanate of Oman can do so, according to a new instruction from the Ministry of Labour.

The new circular from the Ministry says that it cancels the earlier decision to ban the renewal of the resident cards for expats over 60 years old and instructs all concerned undersecretaries and other authorities to take appropriate actions to implement the same.

Speaking to the Observer, a spokesperson from the Ministry said the decision is to attract foreigners to choose Oman beyond their retirement age and to continue living here as a measure to support the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

"The decision to allow expatriate workers continue their work beyond 60 years of age at a mutual understanding between both parties is to attract experienced hands continue to live and work here," he said.

"All undersecretaries have been advised to take appropriate steps to implement the same," he added.

Oman has earlier introduced expats retirement scheme that offered eligible expatriates residence visas to stay in the sultanate in a bid to support tourism in Q4, 2021.

Accordingly, expatriate retirees can avail a five-year renewable visa if they are 60 years old or above. All the applicant has to provide are a proof of work in Oman with employment of not less than two years and a six months' bank statement in Oman showing monthly income of at least RO4,000.

Renee Johnson, a travel and tourism expert said that these new decisions can help and support the ailing tourism sector and contribute to the national drive.

"The introduction of new visa option is very pivotal to tourism promotion. As a travel and tourism expert, I'm pretty much convinced that these new steps will initiate a new awakening in the tourism sector which is bearing the brunt of the pandemic. In due course of time, all these will result in making the country a more attractive destination," Renee Johnson said.

According to a recent estimate, there are nearly 35million expatriate workers living and working in the GCC countries, and nearly 5,309,608 citizens and expatriates in the Sultanate. Figures released by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) in 2021 indicate that 30 percent of Oman's population, roughly 1,500,000 are foreigners.

However, more than 220,000 expat workers have left Oman from March 2020 till December 2021. Expats employed in the government sector accordingly fell from 53,332 to 49,898, while in the private sector, expat worker figures dropped from 1,608,781, to 1,403,287.

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