In a major policy decision that will impact many expatriates in the Sultanate of Oman, a circular issued by the Ministry of Labour stated that expatriate employees who attained superannuation at 60, but still willing to work in the country, can renew work visa.

Accordingly, expatriate retirees could avail a five-year renewable visa if they were 60 or above. The condition here is proof of work in the Sultanate of Oman for not less than two years and a six-month bank statement in Oman showing monthly income of at least RO4,000.

Renee Johnson, a travel and tourism expert, said the new decisions visa can help support the ailing tourism sector.

The new circular from the ministry says it cancels its earlier decision that does not allow the renewal of the resident cards of expats who attained 60 years of age. “The ministry has communicated the decision to authorities concerned for appropriate action,” the circular said.

Speaking to the Observer, a spokesperson from the ministry said the decision aims to attract foreigners to choose Oman beyond their retirement age and continue living here as a measure to support the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

“The decision to allow expatriate workers to continue beyond 60 years of age is a mutual understanding between both the parties. It aims to retain experienced hands in the country,” he said.

“All the under-secretaries have been advised to take appropriate steps to implement the same,” he said.

Oman had earlier introduced an expatriate retirement scheme that offered eligible expatriates residence visas to stay in the country beyond their working period to support tourism in Q4, 2021.

“The introduction of new visa options is important for tourism promotion. As a travel and tourism expert, I’m convinced that these new steps will initiate new resources in the tourism sector that is under stress due to the pandemic. In due course, these steps will make the country a more attractive destination among tourists,” Renee Johnson said.

According to a recent estimate, nearly 35 million expatriate workers live and work in the GCC countries.

Figures released by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) in 2021 indicate that 30 per cent of Oman’s population, roughly 1,500,000, are foreigners.

However, more than 220,000 expat workers have left Oman between March 2020 and December 2021. Expats employed in the government sector accordingly fell from 53,332 to 49,898, while in the private sector, expat worker figures dropped from 1,608,781, to 1,403,287.

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