After I blogged last week about the NOC issue and changing jobs here in the Sultanate, I received two emails, one from someone I know in recruitment, and one from someone I don't know - and this email I'm copying here for all to read.
Because, it seems that there is some misinformation on the issue of a NOC and how to change jobs out there, I've also, it appears, gotten the wrong end of the stick with this NOC issue. As you will see from the email below, there is no reason why an employer shouldn't issue a NOC (no good ethical reason at least) as it appears that once an expat leaves the country and has their visa cancelled, as long as their new employer has a labour clearance, your old visa is cancelled - and the old employer can then re-apply for a replacement visa clearance.
Here's the email explaining it all:
There were and still are 2 ways of changing jobs in Oman.The common thread between the 2 is that the new employer has to obtain a clearance for your employment. This is the key requirement as there are multiple documents that have to be submitted by the new organization to secure your clearance proving that an expat is required and the role cannot be filled by an Omani (at least not to date). This is a very important document for any expat to get a visa. Now, what I was given to understand, a clearance issued is valid for 15-18 months before which it must be assigned/ issued to an expat. Once assigned to an expat, it stays as long as the expat is in the country. If the expat leaves the job after the initial 15-18 months, the clearance just expires. Why this is important becomes clear in the next part.
Coming back to the 2 ways of shifting jobs:
The first one used to be to leave the country getting your visa cancelled and the new organization applies for a new visa using their clearance. Now, this is where the NOC comes in. The NOC is a letter (just a letter in Arabic and English on the official letterhead) issued by the existing employer on your visa getting cancelled stating that they have cancelled your visa and that they have No Objection to you working elsewhere. Generally, this letter is given to the new employer at their request. So, the new employer takes all the documents that used to be previously as well required and add this NOC letter and apply for a new visa. Here the existing employer DOES NOT lose the clearance. But, they have to apply for a new clearance claiming it to be a REPLACEMENT CLEARANCE.This process takes anywhere between 3 weeks to 2 months. [This is a long time in business terms, and is a reason why employers are loathe to issue NOC's]
The second process used to be called transfer. Here the exisiting employer used to fill up and sign an official form and this used to be submitted by the new employer in the ministry transferring the clearance and visa to the new employer. In this case the expat simply stayed in the country and everything was done locally. This is now called a RELEASE. In case the existing employer now issues a Release, he loses his clearance. But, if the new employer has a clearance already and the employee has already completed 2 years, the existing employer still retains the right to ask for a new clearance (not a replacement clearance). This is where the trouble starts. The new clearance takes anywhere between 3-6 months.
Just the amount of time it takes to get either a Replacement or a New Clearance is what spoils the intentions of the existing employer.
But none of this is properly ever communicated to people and some organizations take their employees for a ride. In most cases, the existing company never loses a clearance or the right to apply for one. It is just that they do not want the employee to leave to competition. The fact that the media or relevant people never highlight this process properly gives everyone a wrong picture.
So - if you leave Oman, and cancel your visa, your employer can apply for a replacement clearance once your visa is cancelled, and should therefore have no problem with giving you a NOC once you've had your visa cancelled.
Well that changes things a bit doesn't it?