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Oman reduces salary limit for family visas

With the change in rules, more expats can now bring their families to the country

Gulf News

Muscat: Expatriates earning a monthly income of 300 Omani riyals (Dh2,865) and more can now bring their families to Oman, according to the Royal Oman Police (ROP).

Earlier, the minimum salary for an expat to get a ‘family joining visa’ was 600 riyals.

Sultan Al Abri, Oman’s Shura Council member representing Ibri province, told Gulf News the decision was made following a recommendation by the Council to boost the Omani economy.

“We recommended this earlier this year. With the change in rules, more expats can bring their families now,” Al Abri said.

Ahmad Al Mamari, an economist, told Gulf News that if more expatriates who earn 300 riyals decide to bring their families to Oman, more revenue will be generated as they will be spending more in the country.

Expats can also bring their children under the age of 21 under the ‘family joining visa’.

“The important thing is that money can be generated through visa services, too,” he said.

“With the new rule, more expatriates will stay in Oman. Thousands left the country when a law issued in 2013 restricted expatriates earning less than 600 riyals a month from acquiring the family joining visa.”

Figures from the Central Bank of Oman showed a decline of 6.5 per cent in expat remittances in 2016, compared to 2015; 4.2 billion riyals was remitted overseas in 2015, the number fell to 3.95 billion in 2016.

The report attributed the decline to the fact that many expats found it difficult to send money home, due to the economic downturn as well as a rise in the cost of living.

Many expats earning about 300 riyals welcomed the move.

“I am really happy as it is difficult to stay away from family throughout the year,” said Rajesh Mahesh, an Indian national working in the private sector.

Rajesh is planning to bring his family to Oman soon.

Mohammad Munsef, a Bangladeshi worker expressed his delight.

“I was excited when my friend told me about the new decision. It’s a great feeling to go back to your family every night after a hard day of work,” he said.

Oman first introduced the minimum monthly salary rule for ‘family joining visa’ in 2011.

The Omanisation percentage in the private sector at the end of August this year stood at 14.6 per cent; more than 1.5 million expats work in Oman’s private sector.

Oman currently has around 2 million expats in total, including family members.

—Fahad is a freelance journalist based in Muscat

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