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Oman launches long-term residency programme for expat investors

Oman’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotions (MOCIIP) on September 29 launched a programme for granting long-term residency to expat investors.

Aimed at enhancing the investment quality in Oman and creating more job opportunities, the “Investor Residence” programme offers foreign investors and retirees the right to long-term stay in the Sultanate.

Applications will begin from October 3 through an online system of MOCIIP. Up to 22 investors of different nationalities have received their investment cards during the activation ceremony of the Investor Residency programme.

On 3 October, the Investment Services Center at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion MoCIIP will start receiving applications to obtain the investor residence electronically, according to MoCIIP.

The Investor Residency programme aims at attracting and enhancing qualitative investments which are aligned with the objectives of the Oman vision 2040 and capable to contribute to the growth of the gross domestic product, creating job opportunities, enhancing the localisation of industries and transferring the advanced technology, strengthening the economic diversification in all productive sectors in accordance with a well-studied plan that enhances the investment environment as well as taking into account the security, legal, social and economic aspects.

The Investor Residency program also will contribute to simplifying investments procedures, tackling the administrative challenges that facing the investment procedures, helping in setting appropriate indicators to assess and measure the number of new foreign investment companies, the volume of foreign investment and the new employment opportunities for Omanis.

The Investor Residency programme is considered as an addition to the incentives and advantages offered by the Sultanate to investors, while the Sultanate’s foreign capital investment law offers various incentives to investors, including allowing the foreign investor to own 100% of the invested capital without specifying a minimum capital.

The Sultanate also has launched the automatic licensing service for more than 1,500 economic activities through the “Invest Easy” portal so as to facilitate the start of doing business in Oman.

According to MoCIIP, the number of automatic licences that have been submitted through the electronic portal Invest Easy and through the service provider offices (Sanad) since the launch of the automatic licenses service on 4 April 2021 and till 27 September 2021 reached 62,896 automatic licences, while the upcoming period will witness the launching of several programmes and initiatives aim at enhancing the business environment and attracting foreign investments to the Sultanate.

Mr Khalid bin Said Al Shuaibi, Adviser to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion for Trade Relations, said the programme is “in line with the objectives of Oman’s Vision 2040, which aims at diversifying and growing the national economy, raising the Sultanate’s rating in international indicators, promoting foreign direct investment, balancing the governorates development, promoting and diversifying the Sultanate’s exports and creating new jobs”.

He added: “The launch of the investor residency programme comes in order to promote quality investments that contribute to the growth of the domestic product, creating job opportunities and supporting the national economy to align with the capabilities, pillars and objectives of the Oman vision 2040.”

Mr Al Shuaibi pointed out that the investor residency programmr is one of the milestones of the national programmr for attracting investments and promoting exports (Invest in Oman Program), which is being supervised by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion in cooperation with the Oman Investment Authority and the Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit.

This step is an essential step to develop appropriate indicators to evaluate and measure the number of new foreign investment companies, the volume of foreign investment and new employment opportunities for Omanis within the framework of this programme to evaluate its effectiveness periodically and measure the financial and economic impact and develop it in proportion to each stage of the work, Mr Al-Shuaibi added.

Mr Al Shuaibi pointed out that one of the most important factors that push investors to choose the Sultanate as one of the important investment destinations is Oman’s strategic location which is close to the emerging markets in the Middle East, East Africa and India, in addition to its logistical network that enhances the reach of products to the largest segment of consumers at a competitive cost, as well as the Sultanate enjoys attractive investment environment, best ports in the Indian Ocean, best infrastructure, while it provides modern lifestyle and appropriate environment for families to live and stay in the country.

Briefing the criteria and requirements for obtaining an investor card in the Sultanate, Mr Azzan bin Qassim Al Busaidi, Adviser to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, said: “The investor residency programme has been approved with the aim at facilitating granting residency to the foreign investors who would like to invest in the Sultanate for periods ranging from 5 to 10 years, subject to extension in accordance with clear controls and procedures, provided that these residencies are not permanent.”

Upon obtaining the residency, the investor will be granted various encouraging advantages and incentives, provided that the regulations and standards to be adhered to throughout the specified residency period, Mr Azzan added.

He clarified that the criteria and conditions for granting the residence card within the investor residence programme include two categories.

The first category relates to those who own housing units. The residency applicant must own one or several fully constructed housing with a market value of not less than RO 500,000 and shall attach to the application a copy of the title deed and an authenticated purchasing contract registered at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning or an evaluation of the housing unit issued by a specialised valuation company approved by the Ministry or proof of the housing unit value by the developer of the property.

He added that the applicant also can establish a public/closed joint-stock company and must submit a certificate from one of the licensed brokerage companies operating in the Sultanate proving his ownership of shares with a market value of not less than RO 500,000.

The investor can also establish other companies where he must have a bank certificate issued by one of the banks/commercial banks operating in the Sultanate confirming the existence of the specified amount as a share of the residence applicant in the company’s account, or submitting a report issued by one of the approved auditing companies approved in the Sultanate proving the share of the residence applicant in these companies is not less than RO 500,000.

Mr Azzan emphasised that the investor residency applicant must own a company in which the number of Omani employees is not less than 50, while the applicant shall submit an official certificate from the Ministry of Labour or the Public Authority for Social Insurance showing the number of Omani employees in the company.

The applicant for the first category of residence card also must possess Omani governmental bonds of a market value of not less than RO 500,000, while the remaining period of these bonds should not be less than two years, Mr Azzan added.

As for the criteria and conditions for granting the second category of residence card within the investor residence programme, the residence applicant must own one or several fully constructed housing with a market value of not less than RO 250,000 and shall attach to the application a copy of the title deed and an authenticated purchasing contract registered at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning or an evaluation of the housing unit issued by a specialised
valuation company approved by the Ministry or proof of the housing unit value by the developer of the property, Mr Azzan confirmed.

Mr Azzan pointed out that the applicant for the second category of a residence card must submit a bank certificate issued by one of the banks/commercial banks operating in the Sultanate confirming the existence of the specified amount as a share of the residence applicant in his company’s account, or
submitting a report issued by one of the approved auditing companies approved in the Sultanate proving the share of the residence applicant in these companies by not less than RO250,000.

The applicant for the second category of residence card also must possess Omani governmental bonds of a market value of not less than RO250,000, while the remaining period of these bonds should not be less than two years, Mr Azzan added.

He also clarified that the retires who are interesting in obtaining the investor residency must prove that he has worked in the Sultanate by submitting a work contract, provided that the total period of his work in Oman is not less than two years, and must submit a six months personal bank statement from one of the operating banks in the Sultanate to prove that his monthly income is not less than RO 4,000. He must also submit a home title deed or a residential lease contract in the name of the applicant along with an integrated curriculum vitae.

Mr Azzan said that those interested to invest uner the Investor Residence programme should meet a number of conditions. Among them, they must provide the documents required by the competent authorities, pay the prescribed fees and adhere to the regulations regarding the investment in Oman. The beneficiary of the programme is not entitled to claim for Omani citizenship, except in accordance with the regulations in force in this regard.

He pointed out that in the event of the investor’s death, members of his family will be given a grace period of 90 days to adjust their situation, any of them may transfer his residence to the first or second category of the investor’s residence if he /she meets the required conditions.

The companies subject to the foreign investment law registered in the Sultanate and whose capital exceeds the specified amounts for the first and second category, can nominate one of the partners or its employees to obtain an investor residence of any of the categories, while the company has the right to nominate more than one partner or employee in the event that the company’s capital is multiples of the amounts specified in the procedures of the first and second category.

The residency shall not be forfeited in the event of a judicial ruling against the residency holder, unless the ruling decreed deportation from the country or in accordance with the provisions of the Aliens Residency Law.

The investor must submit a non-conviction certificate or its equivalent from his country, provided that it is authenticated by the competent authority and the Sultanate’s embassy in his country or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The fulfilling of all requirements is not a condition for obtaining the final approval of the application. In case any of the conditions according to which the investor obtained the residency permit during its period is not fulfilled, he must adjust his situation within a period not exceeding 3 months, renewable only once after the approval of the Minister. If the investor fails to adjust his situation during the specified grace period, the residency will be cancelled.

Highlighting the incentives that investors will enjoy when they obtain the investor residency, the adviser to the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion said: “The investor who obtained the first category of investor residency is being granted the right to own one property outside the integrated tourism complexes – ITCs, whether for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, while it is transferable to others, with the exception of owning lands that are prohibited for non-Omanis.”

He pointed out that the holder of the first category of investor residency has the right to reside with his family without specifying the number of family members and without specifying their ages, while the holder of the second category of the investor residency can reside with his children with a maximum age of 25 years.

The investor residency gives its holder the right to use the corridors designated for Omanis at airports and ports, while the investor is allowed to open a bank account and issue visiting visas for relatives, he /she can also practice economic activities or work in the Sultanate with no need for a sponsor to obtain a work visa or work permit. He/she can also recruit up to three domestic workers in private professions.

Clarifying the procedures for submitting the application to obtain the investor residency, Mr Azzan said: The application to be submitted through the Investment Services Center at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, via an electronic system that connects all concerned parties, which include the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, the main supervising body of the program In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, the Oman Credit and Financial Information Center (Mala’a), and in partnership with the Oman 2040 Vision Follow-up Unit, and the Ministry of Information (Government Communication Center). Accordingly, the concerned center will carry out the following steps: Evaluate the application in line with required procedures, determine the type of the required investment, and respond by approving the application within one month from the date of submission, while the failure to respond during the specified period means rejection for the
application.
Oman Observer

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