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Know About Absconding in the UAE

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Living and working in the UAE can be an exciting adventure. However, unfamiliar legal territory can sometimes lead to unexpected complications. One such term that can cause confusion for both employers and employees in the UAE is “absconding.”

Absconding in the UAE is a serious issue that can have major consequences for both employers and employees. This term refers to an employee leaving their job without notifying their employer or obtaining the necessary permissions. Especially In the UAE, absconding is taken very seriously and can result in legal action, fines, and even deportation for the employee.

For employers, absconding can lead to disruptions in business operations, financial losses, and difficulties in finding a suitable replacement.

Therefore, it is essential for both parties to understand the implications of absconding and to adhere to the proper procedures to avoid any negative outcomes.

What is Absconding in the UAE?

Absconding refers to an employee who is absent from work without informing their employer and disappearing.

An employee is considered absconding if they are continuously absent from work for seven days without any explanation or prior notice to the employer. This is according to Article 28(1) of Cabinet Resolution No.1 of 2022.

Here are some common scenarios that are considered absconding in UAE:

1. Leaving a Job Without Notice

If an employee quits their job without giving proper notice as stipulated in their contract, they risk being labelled absconding.

2. Overstaying a Visa

If an employee’s visa expires and they remain in the UAE without renewing it or exiting the country, it can be considered absconding.

3. Working for Another Employer

Employees under sponsorship cannot take up employment with another company without proper cancellation of their existing work permit and labor contract. Doing so can be seen as absconding.

4. Fleeing Sponsorship

If an employee sponsored by a company or individual disappears without informing them, it can lead to an absconding case.

Absconding in UAE for Visitors (Visit Visa)

Absconding typically refers to overstaying your visa and failing to depart the UAE within the permitted timeframe, including any grace period. Even a few days of overstay can be considered absconding, potentially leading to fines and complications.

Visitors with residence visas (not just visit visas) can also be reported as absconding if they violate visa conditions, such as not renewing their visa or failing to exit the country when required.

Common Scenarios:

1. Overstaying Visit Visa

If your visit visa expires and you don’t leave the UAE within the grace period, you could be labelled absconding.

2. Not Leaving After Visa Cancellation

If your residence visa gets cancelled and you don’t depart within the stipulated time, it can be seen as absconding.

Unlike employment absconding, there’s no requirement to be absent for a specific period. Any unauthorized overstay can be considered absconding. Resolving the situation before departure is crucial to avoid long-term complications.

Legal Framework Governing Absconding in the UAE

The legal framework governing absconding in the UAE is established by two main sources:

Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (UAE Labour Law)

This law sets the foundation for employer-employee relations in the UAE. While not explicitly mentioning “absconding,” it outlines employee obligations and potential consequences for breaching the contract.

Ministerial Resolution No. (721) of 2006

This resolution provides more specific details regarding absconding in the context of employment. It defines absconding and outlines the procedures employers must follow to report an absconding employee to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

There are separate regulations governing visa overstays for visitors on visit visas and other residence visas, typically handled by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Legal Consequences of Absconding in the UAE

Absconding in the UAE has significant consequences for employees, employers, and even visitors with residence visas.

1. For Employees

  • Deportation: Employees labelled as absconders face deportation from the UAE at their own expense.
  • Travel Ban: A travel ban can be imposed, preventing them from re-entering the UAE or potentially other GCC countries for a specific period or even permanently.
  • Blacklisting: The absconding record can be flagged in immigration systems, making it difficult or impossible to obtain visas for the UAE or other countries in the future.
  • Financial Penalties: Depending on the situation, the employee may be liable for fines or must compensate the employer for any damage caused by their absence.
  • Difficulty Finding Future Employment: An absconding record can severely limit employment opportunities in the UAE due to the strict labor laws.

2. For Employers

  • Administrative Hassle: Employers must follow proper procedures to report absconding and potentially face delays or complications during the process.
  • Potential Legal Issues: If the employer is found to be at fault for the employee’s absconding (e.g., unfair labour practices), they might face legal repercussions.
  • Damaged Reputation: Repeated absconding cases within a company can harm the employer’s reputation and make it difficult to attract new employees.

3. For Visitors

  • Fines: Daily fines are imposed for overstaying the visa validity period.
  • Deportation: Like employees, visitors who abscond will be deported at their own expense.
  • Travel Ban: A travel ban can be placed, restricting future travel to the UAE and potentially other GCC countries.
  • Difficulties Renewing Residence Visa: An absconding record can complicate the process of renewing a residence visa in the UAE.
  • Blacklisting: An absconding record can be flagged in immigration systems which can make it difficult to obtain visas for the UAE or other countries in the future.

Common Reasons for Absconding

There are several reasons why employees or visitors in the UAE might abscond, though it’s important to remember it carries serious consequences.

  • If employees face unfair treatment, low wages, unsafe work environments, or excessive workload, they might resort to absconding out of desperation.
  • Unresolved disagreements between employers and employees regarding salaries, benefits, or contractual obligations can lead some employees to abscond.
  • Accidentals overstay due to losing track of time or missing deadlines for visa renewal is a common reason for visitors to abscond.
  • If a visitor loses their job before their visa expires, they might abscond out of fear of deportation or inability to renew their visa.
  • Running out of money before their visa expires might force a visitor to abscond to avoid accruing overstay fines.

The Process of Reporting Absconding Cases

The process of reporting absconding cases in the UAE differs slightly depending on whether it’s an employee or a visitor.

1. Gather Evidence

The employer must collect documentation to support the absconding claim. This could include:

  • Employment contract
  • Signed documents acknowledging the work schedule
  • Records of attempted communication with the employee (emails, phone logs)
  • Proof that the employee is still in the UAE (Emirates ID details, if available)

2. Timescale

The employer has three months from the last day the employee worked to report the absconding to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

3. Report to MOHRE

This can be done electronically through the MOHRE website or app using their e-signature card. Required documents like the trade license, work permit number, and employee details need to be uploaded.

4. Processing Time

MoHRE will review the case and may contact the employer for further information. The approval process typically takes 1-2 days.

5. Possible Outcomes

If MOHRE validates the claim, they might:

  • Cancel the employee’s work permit.
  • Impose a travel ban on the employees in the UAE.

If the employee provides a valid reason for the absence, MOHRE may dismiss the case.

 In the case of a visitor absconding, the sponsor of the visitor’s visa (i.e., a hotel, friend, or family member) is responsible for reporting the absconding to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA). There’s no specific deadline, but it’s advisable to report the absconding as soon as possible to avoid complications.

Amnesty Programs

Amnesty programs allow individuals who have overstayed their visas to leave the country without facing fines or penalties. They might also offer options to regularize their visa status and remain in the UAE legally, though this may incur additional fees.

In some cases, amnesty programs might allow individuals who have violated certain visa rules, like working without a permit, to rectify their situation and potentially avoid deportation or travel bans.

Keep in mind, UAE doesn’t offer regular amnesty programs specifically to address absconding. However, they do occasionally implement temporary amnesty programs that can help people in situations that might otherwise lead to absconding.

How to Avoid Absconding Situations

Here are some key strategies to avoid absconding situations in the UAE:

  • Thoroughly read and understand your employment contract before signing.
  • Maintain clear and open communication with your employer. If you face any issues like unfair treatment, delayed wages, or unsafe work conditions, address them with your employer or seek help from MOHRE.
  • If you decide to leave your job, follow the proper procedures outlined in your contract, which usually involves a notice period.
  • For visitors, carefully plan your trip duration and ensure you have a valid visa that covers your entire stay.
  • If you need to extend your stay, apply for a visa extension well before your current visa expires.
  • Communicate any changes in your travel plans to your visa sponsor (hotel, friend, family) to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Familiarize yourself with UAE immigration regulations to avoid any unintentional violations.

Seek Expert Help When Needed

Understanding the legalities surrounding absconding in the UAE is essential for both employers and visitors. Absconding can lead to serious legal issues like immigration bans, fines, and even arrest, so both employers and employees need to know their rights and responsibilities. Employers should follow the right steps to report absconding and take steps to prevent it from happening.

If you’re not sure about your rights or dealing with a complicated situation, it’s a good idea to talk to immigration experts like Shuraa. Our team specializes in UAE labour and immigration laws and can give you the help you need.

So, if you’re moving to Dubai or moving your business to Dubai or UAE, let Shuraa take care of the legalities, visas, and paperwork. Focus on your goals in the UAE, and we’ll ensure you stay compliant and avoid any absconding concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does absconding last in the UAE?

An absconding record can stay on your immigration file for a significant period, potentially years. The exact duration depends on the specific case.

2. Can I return to the UAE after absconding?

Returning to the UAE after absconding can be difficult. You’ll likely face a travel ban, and depending on the severity of the case, you may need to pay fines and resolve any outstanding issues before re-entering the country.

3. Can you exit UAE with an absconding case?

No, typically you cannot exit the UAE with an active absconding case. There will likely be an alert on your passport preventing you from leaving until the issue is resolved.

4. Is there amnesty for absconding in UAE?

The UAE occasionally offers amnesty programs for visa irregularities.  However, these aren’t guaranteed and may not apply to everyone who has absconded.

5. What happens If I overstay my visa in the UAE?

Overstaying your visa is considered absconding for visitors. You’ll accrue fines daily and face deportation upon discovery. You might also be banned from future visits to the UAE and potentially other GCC countries.

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