I was made redundant a while ago but have been doing visa runs using my British passport, living off my savings and doing some casual work. I haven’t found a suitable new job yet, but someone I know has offered to let me buy a visa under his company which is based in Ras Al Khaimah. This would allow me to stay in my apartment. However, a friend is concerned this isn’t fully legal. Surely if I have a visa I am not breaking the law? EF, Dubai
Under UAE law, it is illegal to purchase a visa in this way. Residency visas should only be procured for employees of a company or by the owners of a legal entity. Both the individual and the owner of any company who attempts to sell visas in this way can be fined and deportation is also a possibility.
It is also illegal to work on anything other than a valid residency visa, and casual work is not permitted under UAE law. Both the company and any individual who does this are breaking the law and can be heavily fined. An individual can receive a fine of up to Dh50,000 and/or be deported. Individuals may only work for companies who sponsor them. The only exception is someone who is legally employed by a company and on their visa and takes on certain freelance work with the full knowledge and written agreement of both employers.
The Wages Protection System usually spot people in this situation, as the Ministry of Labour expects a salary to go through the system each month for every person who has a visa for a company. While some may be getting away with fooling the system, the ministry will catch up with them eventually, and it has made it clear that it will not tolerate people flaunting and breaking the law in this way.
Do I qualify for a property visa? I own an apartment in Dubai that is now worth more than Dh1 million. My family and I live in it and I have a mortgage. My question is can I apply for a visa for my wife and two children based on ownership of this apartment? AS, Dubai
While it can be possible to obtain a property-related visa in Dubai, the rules are strict and even if someone fits the criteria, all applications are subject to individual approval. A property must have been bought for a sum of at least Dh1 million, and that must be shown on the Dubai Land Registry documents. The current value is not considered and it must also be owned outright, without any mortgage. An owner who applies for this visa cannot be in employment in the UAE as an employment-related residency visa must always take precedence. In this case therefore, AS will not be able to apply for a property-related visa and can only sponsor his wife and children through his own residency visa.
In August 2015 I started working for a company in Abu Dhabi on a two-year limited contract. Now I want to leave and I have already given my resignation and put one month’s notice in the letter. However, the company is telling me that you cannot go after one month and that they will make me stay and work for three months. What do the rules in the UAE say about this? Can they make me stay? SM, Abu Dhabi
Under UAE Labour Law, the minimum notice period required is 30 days, but in many cases a contract of employment may state a longer period, often up to three months and that is enforceable as it has been agreed by both parties. SM is on a fixed-term contract and this affords certain protections to the employee. In return there are restrictions on them breaking the terms of the contract early. In accordance with Article 116 of the law, SM can also be penalised financially for breaking the contract. This article states: “If the contract has been terminated on part of the employee … the employee becomes liable for compensating the employer against losses incurred by him in consequence of contract termination, provided that the amount of compensation may not exceed half a month’s pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of contract whichever is shorter, unless the terms of the contract provide otherwise”. Therefore SM would be advised to work the full notice period stated in the employment contract.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only