UAE: Working on a visit visa can get you into trouble

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Stock Dubai office staff working street
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Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: If you have been working with a company, while on a visit visa, can you claim monetary compensation, in case the company fails to pay your dues? A Gulf News reader wrote in asking the question.

He said: “I was hired by a Dubai-based company in January this year. I arrived in the UAE on a tourist visa, which I had paid for. I was told by the human resources (HR) manager that I have to work on the tourist visa till the time the company sponsors my work visa. After submitting all the required documents and several follow ups, the process for applying for the employment visa was never initiated. The HR department also confirmed that the company will pay a per day amount in addition to the monthly salary to cover my food and accommodation expenses during my stay in the UAE, which was never paid to me. Since the day I joined, I was asked to do tele-calling for sales and was also asked to go meet customers, which I did. I objected to it many times, as no individual is allowed to work without a valid work visa, but every time I was threatened by senior colleagues that everyone is working in the same manner and to do what I was asked to by the management and senior colleagues. On regular follow-ups regarding my work visa and other formalities, I was handed over the termination letter without any discussion. I was forced to work late regularly. I do not want to get rehired by the company, I only want to make sure I get my dues, as I have to settle my payments in the UAE and return to my home country.”

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Gulf News raised the query with Aditi Gandhi, who is a Dubai-based legal adviser, who warned people against working on a visit visa.

“Please note that it is illegal to work in the UAE while being on a tourist visa, without a valid work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) or any of the free zones. Similarly, it is also unlawful for the companies to employ people on a visit visa. Both parties can face sanctions from the relevant authorities for doing so,” Gandhi said.

Immigration and labour laws

Article 11 of Federal Law No. (6) of 1973 Concerning Immigration and Residence, more commonly referred to as the Immigration Law, expressly states that a foreigner who obtains a visit visa may not work anywhere in the country, with or without pay or for his own self. Also, if a work visa is issued by an individual or an establishment, the holder may not work for another individual or establishment without the written consent of the visa sponsor and the approval of the Directorate of Nationality and Immigration.

Also, Article 13 of the UAE Employment Law stipulates the requirement of an approval and work permit to be issued by MOHRE once the conditions mentioned in the immigration law are fulfilled.

It is illegal to work in the UAE while being on a tourist visa, without a valid work permit issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) or any of the free zones. Similarly, it is also unlawful for the companies to employ people on a visit visa. Both parties can face sanctions from the relevant authorities for doing so.

– Aditi Gandhi, a Dubai-based legal adviser

If a foreign worker is found violating the visa requirements, Article (34) of the Immigration Law states: “The court shall in all cases order to deport the violating foreigner.”

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Employers too, are liable to pay a fine of Dh50,000, according to the same article, and also face deportation. Article (34) states: “A fine of Dh50,000 shall be imposed on any person who has used a foreigner who is not under his sponsorship without complying with the terms and conditions prescribed for the transfer of sponsorship or without obtaining the necessary permit.”

Can I file a labour complaint?

As the worker is not legally working in the UAE, raising a complaint with the relevant regulatory body is not an option.

“For an employee to file a labour claim against his employer for outstanding salary or other claims, one is required to first approach MOHRE or the relevant free zone, where the employer is set up, to amicably settle the matter, failing which, the case is transferred to the court. In the present instance, since the employee was working while being on a tourist visa and without a work permit, he will not be eligible to institute proceedings against the employer before MOHRE. If the employee elects to initiate any action before MOHRE or any UAE Courts against the employer to claim outstanding dues, then the aforesaid breach of the Immigration Law and Employment Law will be highlighted and may lead to legal action taken against both – the employer and employee. Therefore, the employee must bear the above in mind before weighing his options,” Gandhi said.



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