Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

About 2,000 Illegal Indian Workers Arrested in Oman in 2017

The Muttrah fish docks in Muscat, Oman

Around 500 expatriate workers break the labor law of Oman every week, according to a report by the country’s Ministry of Manpower.

More than 27,000 migrant workers were arrested in 2017 for violating labor laws in Oman, the Times of Oman reported, citing the ministry’s figures.  

The country’s capital, Muscat, topped the list with 8,923 arrests, followed by North Batinah where 6,918 laborers were arrested for breaking labor laws. Dhofar and South Batinah stood at the third and fourth place, with 3,017 and 1,798 arrests, respectively.  

Of the 27,837 arrests that took place in 2017, the maximum number of persons came from Bangladesh, with 20,557 violations. Pakistan came second with 3,285 of its citizens violating Oman’s labor laws. India stood third with as many as 1,955 violators. The rest 1,040 workers were of other nationalities, the report said.  

Of the violations reported, 15,674 employees or 58.4 percent of all violators absconded from work, while 9,567 were laid off, and 1,596 workers entered the country with a tourist visa and worked illegally once their visa permit expired. 

A majority of these workers, numbering 24,146, worked in the commercial sector while only 2,691 were employed in the household sector.  

A detailed report shows that most men who were detained for illegal reasons worked in the construction, retail, manufacturing, and food sectors while women were mainly working in education, health, social services, and retail. The report added that 365,971 new migrant workers started working in 2017, while 368,253 left the country. 

“They (workers) come to the ministry and hand themselves over. First, legal action is taken against them. We also contact the employer if there are any demands. If the illegal expat worker is wanted by the judicial authorities for committing crimes, he or she will be handed over to them. The door is open for them when they want to hand over themselves to the ministry. The amnesty period is exceptional, as the government pays lots of money to deport them,” the publication quoted a ministry official as saying.

The official added that raids on illegal workers are most often done jointly by the ministry and other government agencies like the Royal Oman Police (ROP), Public Prosecution and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.  

According to Oman’s labor law, a non-Omani is prohibited from joining any work in the Sultanate before obtaining a labor card. It also says that an employer shall not let any non-Omani worker authorized to work for him to work under any other employer, or employ any worker authorized to work for another employer or residing in the Sultanate illegally. Also, the Omani worker shall only work for the employer authorized to employ him.  

Several social organizations working with the Indian community in Oman often remind workers to comply with the local labor laws. “If you are coming here for a job, you should have a proper visa, and not come in on a tourist visa. If you have the proper visa, then you can get it cleared and get all the permits from the labor and manpower ministries, and complete the legal formalities,” a member of the Indian Social Club was quoted by the publication as saying.  

In May this year, Oman’s Ministry of Manpower extended the six-month ban on hiring expatriates that it announced in January to reduce the country’s high unemployment rate.