- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Oman Guide (PDF)
Expats will be relieved to know that the process of securing a visa for Oman is relatively hassle free. Tourist visas for Oman are easy to come by and, although the process of securing employment visas requires a lot of paperwork, most of this is undertaken by the expat's Omani employer.
Online applications are available from the official Royal Oman Police website. We recommend that those looking to apply for visas for Oman investigate the latest information and specifics on requirements and supplementary documents. Applications for visas will normally be typed in English for non-Arab nationals and in Arabic for Arab nationals.
Whether just visiting or moving to Oman, be sure to know the type of visa needed as there are various options for tourists, those buying property, students, employees and family dependants.
Tourist visas for Oman
Nationals of countries on a designated list can obtain single-entry or multiple-entry tourist visas for Oman. This includes nationals from New Zealand, South Korea, the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan, among others.
Tourist visas must be applied for before leaving for Oman and the duration is normally 30 days, or 30 days within one year. Passports must be valid for at least six months when arriving in Oman.
Nationals of certain countries are able to apply online for an eVisa. This process is much easier than applying for a paper visa, but is only valid for a short period of time, and is specifically for tourist purposes.
Visas for buying property in Oman
New housing developments and accommodation pop up frequently in Oman and foreign citizens can buy property under certain conditions. Foreign nationals looking to buy and invest in housing units in designated tourist complexes can enter on specific Off-the-Plan Owner Visas. These visas are limited to stays of 21 days and supporting documents are needed including contracts for purchasing the property and a letter from the building’s developer stamped by the Ministry of Tourism.
Once expats have bought a property in Oman, they must apply for a resident Property Owner Visa. They must include a copy of their title deed and the building’s floor plan. These visas last two years and are renewable.
Visas for foreign investors in Oman
Oman has recently launched an Investment Residency Programme in which foreign investors can gain residency for five or 10 years, after which it can be renewed. To be eligible, expats are required to invest a certain amount in Oman. This can be in the form of investing a certain amount in a local company or property, owning a business that employs a certain number of Omani locals, or taking out government bond investments.
More information regarding these visas can be found on the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment promotion website.
Student visas for Oman
Non-Omani citizens accepted to study in Oman can apply for a multi-entry student visa. Student visas are valid for one to two years and can be renewed according to the duration of the course being studied.
Students must provide a letter from the training or educational institution where they have been accepted to study.
Work visas for Oman
Expats looking to live and work in Oman will require an employment visa, which can only be obtained in partnership with a sponsoring Omani employer – so it is necessary to have a job before applying for this visa.
Although the application process for this visa demands a significant amount of paperwork, the good news for expats is that the administrative burden of applying falls largely on the shoulders of their Omani employers.
Omanisation – essentially widening the local workforce – means strict expat quotas across economic sectors, and authorities must be convinced certain positions cannot be adequately filled by an Omani citizen. Employers must be aware of the required regulations and apply for a labour permit from the Ministry of Manpower.
Since employers invest so much in helping prospective employees obtain employment visas, it is difficult to change jobs while in Oman. Expats need their employer to agree and sign a No Objection Certificate (NOC), or need to leave the country for at least two years and start the employment visa application all over again. Imminent plans to scrap the NOC have been a relief for expat employees.
Employment visas are valid for two years and allow for multiple entries.
Temporary work visas
Expats who plan to stay in Oman for a short term can also apply for a temporary work visa, valid for four, six or nine months. Applicants for work visas must not be younger than 21 years of age.
Temporary work visas also allow multiple entries, which is useful for business people and employees who go on frequent business trips abroad.
Family joining and family residence visas for Oman
Family joining and family residence visas are granted to the spouses of holders of Omani employment visas as well as to their children, provided they are younger than 28 years old. These visas are valid for two years and allow for multiple entries.
Family joining visas are applied for when families are travelling to Oman to join their spouse who is already working there, while family residence visas may be applied for while both parties are still in their home country.
The process is much the same: expats will require a sponsor to act on their behalf and must supply certified copies of marriage certificates to prove their status as a 'family unit'. The family joining visas are generally easier to procure as the spouse who is already in Oman (on an employment visa and possessing a resident card) can easily prove their legal right to reside in the country.
Bear in mind that family joining visas require the expat residing in Oman to be in a senior job position according to GCC standards. They will also need to be earning a salary at or above a specified minimum income threshold.
Citizens from certain countries may need to provide a medical certificate along with their application.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►For more on the work culture and business etiquette, read Doing Business in Oman
"Getting a work permit was effortless on my side, my employer did everything as, due to the labour law, an Omani must sponsor your visa. All they needed from my side was a medical certificate. They covered my visa and ticket cost." Read more in our interview with Caroline, a Kenyan expat living in Salalah.
Are you an expat living in Oman?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Oman. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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