What is the change? Oman has extended its ban on hiring expatriates in 87 positions in 10 different industries, including information and technology, marketing and sales, insurance and engineering.

What does the change mean? Employers will not be able to hire expatriates to fill jobs in any of the affected positions through January of 2019. Foreign nationals who were already working in the country will be able to work until their work permit expires.

  • Implementation time frame: Between now and Jan. 31, 2019.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, including renewals.
  • Who is affected: Private sector employers and expatriates looking to take jobs in affected industries. Exemptions may apply in limited circumstances.
  • Business impact: The ban imposed a dramatic reduction in the number and types of jobs that will be available to expatriate workers.

Background: Oman’s Ministry of Manpower initially imposed the ban in January, aiming to help Omani nationals find jobs that might otherwise go to foreign workers. Officials subsequently decided to extend the restrictions through the end of January. The affected industries include:

  • Information and technology.
  • Accounting and finance.
  • Marketing and sales.
  • Administration and human resources.
  • Insurance.
  • Information/media.
  • Medical professions.
  • Aviation professions.
  • Engineering professions.
  • Technical professions.

A list of the 87 positions that will be covered by the six-month expatriate hiring ban is available here.

Aside from these 87 positions, Oman has placed restrictions on companies hiring foreign nationals as construction workers, cleaners, carpenters, workers in metal or brick factories, salesmen or purchase representatives. Exemptions may be available to certain international consulting companies or companies that are working on government projects. Exemptions may also be available where the owner of the company is also the manager and where the company is registered with social security and the Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada). SME registration requires a company to be owned by Omani individuals, have its headquarters in Oman, be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, not exceed 99 employees and not be a branch, subsidiary or sister company of a larger entity.

BAL Analysis: A number of countries in the Middle East are adopting immigration measures aimed at protecting their local workforces. The hiring restrictions in Oman continue to represent one of the region’s most dramatic attempts to protect domestic workers. Employers with questions about whether they will be able to recruit expatriate workers for specific jobs, or whether an exemption might be available, should contact BAL.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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