Employer visa issue - ongoing 13 months

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Employer visa issue - ongoing 13 months


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Old 20th April 2014, 09:20 AM
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Default Employer visa issue - ongoing 13 months

Hi all,

I am a Director-level professional working in Dubai, having a very complicated and confusing process towards obtaining my work visa. I have been here since March 2013 - so to summarise have been working here 13 months now on visitor visas (runs to Oman, travelling overseas on business and renewing when I come back through, etc).

I have searched the threads for anyone having a similar issue and havenít found anything unique to this problem, so apologies if this topic has been covered previously.

I am originally from the USA, and was recruited over here by the UAE branch of my company when working in London. I hold the appropriate work / residency visa for the UK in my US passport.

Before moving over last year, I had my masters degree attested, as I was told this was required to obtain my visa, specifically as it related to my job title. Since moving over, my employer has engaged what now feels like a series of smoke and mirror tactics to delay obtaining my visa, under the guise of being stuck in the mire of UAE paperwork bureaucracy. Whilst I appreciate how difficult it can be to get things done here, as compared to the way we might be used to back home, I am not naÔve enough to believe that it takes 13 months to obtain a work visa for a US citizen. My partner moved over here in September (UK passport holder) and his visa was processed in 4 weeks.

So my questions are:

1. Am I in real jeopardy of bringing legal trouble upon myself, having worked here for so long without a visa (I am paid in cash)
2. I am now actively seeking new employment (reasons being hopefully fairly obvious), and have made it through the final round for a job I would be very keen to take in the AD govt. If this goes through to offer, will there be any issue with the fact that I worked here so long without a visa? Obviously in the recruitment / interview process I did not mention this situation, but if I were to go through to a new job they would have my passport to process a new visa, and this would come up.
3. Does my employer have any contractual hold over me, considering they did not fulfill their part of the contract (providing an employment visa and private health insurance)? I signed a standard employment contract when I moved out, as this was required to submit with the visa paperwork, and because of my position of management for both the UK and UAE offices I have a 3-month notice period. I do not want to fulfill this entire notice period, if and when I am offered a new job, as I really need to get myself into a better (and more legal) position and standing in this country.

In this whole tangled process it had also surfaced that my companies trade license had expired without their knowledge at the end of last year (they have an on-shore trade license rather than a free zone), so it appears many aspects of their activities have not been managed tightly and above board. In no way do I want to start any trouble for them, I am merely concerned about any implications this might have on my standing in the UAE by association.

I really appreciate any insight or advice anyone here might have, into the employment laws in the UAE, as they relate to this situation.

- Jess

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Old 20th April 2014, 09:36 AM
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You are correct that 13 months is not a realistic period to process a residence visa and there is most likely something else happening in the background.

You are unlikely to have any problems by association as you do not have a residency visa issued by the company. They cannot issue you a labour ban if they never had you officially on their sponsorship in the UAE to begin with. Essentially your situation right now is that you are a consultant/overseas employee who is traveling from abroad to the UAE very regularly pending the formalization of your UAE employment.

I was in a marginally similar situation last year when I transitioned from being an overseas employee of a UAE Freezone company to being an employee of a new local LLC joint venture. I spent a few days short of 4 months in semi-limbo living/working here but being paid overseas and shuffling in-and-out of the country as needed until my Residence Visa was finally issued. Two other colleagues of mine (US/UK citizens respectively) had similar situations that lasted around 3 months each. None of our situations raised any flags (for this reason) whatsoever and I can't imagine that the situation is particularly uncommon in today's world.

As always, the disclaimer applies that I am not a lawyer (nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn last night). You might want to contact the Ministry of Labour or an actual lawyer if you want more definitive legal guidance.

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Old 20th April 2014, 10:44 AM
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No visa, your contract is invalid. By the way, your original contract should have only been valid for the first full year of employment anyway so if you never signed a renewed contract for the second year you're in an even better position.

Probably the best strategy is to end your employment very quietly and quickly if you get the job offer. Wait till you've been paid then just disappear the next day. Call in and say that family emergency has called you back home and you've resigned ASAP. Because they never gave you a proper visa, you were never a legal resident of the country, they can't hold you to anything, including the contract t's and c's. They can't place a ban on you without getting into trouble with immigration and MoL. I highly doubt they would go through all the hassles of bringing a case against you for violating the 3-month notice when it would expose the company to additional trouble with the government for not getting you a visa in the first place.

The one downside is you may be in some trouble if you ever need to use the company as a reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessindubai View Post
Hi all,

I am a Director-level professional working in Dubai, having a very complicated and confusing process towards obtaining my work visa. I have been here since March 2013 - so to summarise have been working here 13 months now on visitor visas (runs to Oman, travelling overseas on business and renewing when I come back through, etc).

I have searched the threads for anyone having a similar issue and haven’t found anything unique to this problem, so apologies if this topic has been covered previously.

I am originally from the USA, and was recruited over here by the UAE branch of my company when working in London. I hold the appropriate work / residency visa for the UK in my US passport.

Before moving over last year, I had my masters degree attested, as I was told this was required to obtain my visa, specifically as it related to my job title. Since moving over, my employer has engaged what now feels like a series of smoke and mirror tactics to delay obtaining my visa, under the guise of being stuck in the mire of UAE paperwork bureaucracy. Whilst I appreciate how difficult it can be to get things done here, as compared to the way we might be used to back home, I am not naÔve enough to believe that it takes 13 months to obtain a work visa for a US citizen. My partner moved over here in September (UK passport holder) and his visa was processed in 4 weeks.

So my questions are:

1. Am I in real jeopardy of bringing legal trouble upon myself, having worked here for so long without a visa (I am paid in cash)
2. I am now actively seeking new employment (reasons being hopefully fairly obvious), and have made it through the final round for a job I would be very keen to take in the AD govt. If this goes through to offer, will there be any issue with the fact that I worked here so long without a visa? Obviously in the recruitment / interview process I did not mention this situation, but if I were to go through to a new job they would have my passport to process a new visa, and this would come up.
3. Does my employer have any contractual hold over me, considering they did not fulfill their part of the contract (providing an employment visa and private health insurance)? I signed a standard employment contract when I moved out, as this was required to submit with the visa paperwork, and because of my position of management for both the UK and UAE offices I have a 3-month notice period. I do not want to fulfill this entire notice period, if and when I am offered a new job, as I really need to get myself into a better (and more legal) position and standing in this country.

In this whole tangled process it had also surfaced that my companies trade license had expired without their knowledge at the end of last year (they have an on-shore trade license rather than a free zone), so it appears many aspects of their activities have not been managed tightly and above board. In no way do I want to start any trouble for them, I am merely concerned about any implications this might have on my standing in the UAE by association.

I really appreciate any insight or advice anyone here might have, into the employment laws in the UAE, as they relate to this situation.

- Jess


Last edited by TallyHo; 20th April 2014 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 20th April 2014, 11:34 AM
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Thank you for the advice... I am a perpetual worrier so good to hear someone else has been through a similar situation and came out unscathed on the other side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sm105 View Post
You are unlikely to have any problems by association as you do not have a residency visa issued by the company. They cannot issue you a labour ban if they never had you officially on their sponsorship in the UAE to begin with. Essentially your situation right now is that you are a consultant/overseas employee who is traveling from abroad to the UAE very regularly pending the formalization of your UAE employment.

I was in a marginally similar situation last year when I transitioned from being an overseas employee of a UAE Freezone company to being an employee of a new local LLC joint venture. I spent a few days short of 4 months in semi-limbo living/working here but being paid overseas and shuffling in-and-out of the country as needed until my Residence Visa was finally issued. Two other colleagues of mine (US/UK citizens respectively) had similar situations that lasted around 3 months each. None of our situations raised any flags (for this reason) whatsoever and I can't imagine that the situation is particularly uncommon in today's world.

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Old 20th April 2014, 04:41 PM
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The only thing I can think of, is that while your visa is being processed you MUST stay in the UAE Even if it takes a couple of weeks. You cannot leave the country or the whole process has to start again.

Have you been unknowingly breaking this lockin period while your application is being processed?

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