Muscat: In a bid to curb illegal foreign work, the Ministry of Manpower in Oman has decided not to allow small construction and cleaning companies to recruit expatriates for the next six months.

“Starting from November this year, we will not issue any clearances for recruitment of expatriate staff in construction as well as cleaning companies,” a spokesman for the ministry said.

He pointed out that the decision to suspend recruitment of foreign labour in these two sectors stems from the labour market regulation and review of the actual needs of the labour force in different activities.

He clarified that the decision to suspend an expatriate workforce does not apply to listed companies in categories (excellent, international, consultant) and to installations operating in implementing governmental projects.

According to industry sources the decision had more to do with smaller companies giving visas and allowing their employees to work outside in a practice popularly called ‘free visa’.

The ministry has been relentlessly working to root out the illegal workforce from the country so that more job opportunities can be created for the national workforce.

In the last two months 2,320 expatriate workers were caught for violating the country’s residency and labour laws. In September the authorities cancelled 16,147 visas including those of overstaying visitors.