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Editorial

Travel Ban in UAE: All you need to know

The freedom of movement and residence will be granted within limits of laws” quotes from Article 29 of the UAE constitution offers freedom and simultaneously curtail it on the basis of law. It implies that everyone enjoys the freedom to travel inside and outside the country unless specifically objected by law through a travel ban. 

The notion travel ban or deportation is used common parlance in UAE and can be imposed on various grounds such as, as a consequence of a criminal act, violating immigration laws, unpaid debts, under a civil claim. The concerned article, by Criminal Lawyers in Dubai, intends to guide the readers in comprehending the laws pertaining to a travel ban in UAE, the procedure for removing a travel ban in UAE and other similar points.

In legal terms travel ban is a restriction on ongoing freedom of movement or prohibiting a particular individual from entering, re-entering or exiting the country. The travel ban so issued by the government of UAE restrict the individual to cross the border through any means of transport. As mentioned above, travel ban can be caused through a variety of claims and complaints and some of these claims arose due to legal implications or due to immigration. A travel ban is distinctly different from a labour ban or an arrest warrant, and the difference is highlighted as below:

A.      Travel Ban and Labor Ban: a labour ban does not restrict the individual to enter or exit the country. However, it restricts to receive a work permit from MOHRE (Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization) for a limited period pursuant to Federal Law Number 8 of 1980 concerning the Labor Law of UAE and its amendments. In such circumstances, the employee can either visit the country on a different visa and can apply for a job where a work permit from MOHRE is not required such as in free zone companies or public sector. On the other hand, a travel ban is a ban on immigration to enter UAE for all or any reason.

B.      Travel Ban and Arrest Warrant: An arrest warrant is issued for detention of a person by a competent authority who committed a criminal offence under Article 45-46 of the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 concerning the Penal Code or who fails to oblige with the final judgment of execution court under Federal Law Number 11 of 1992 regarding the Civil Procedure Code. An arrest warrant under criminal law is issued if the public prosecutor has sufficient evidence of his guilt, whereas, under the Civil Law, the arrest warrant can be issued by a judge of Execution court, should the debtor fails to submit the claim which is more than AED 10,000. Ergo, the objective of an arrest warrant is entirely different from that of the travel ban, as, in an arrest warrant, the accused is kept in custody until the happening of a specific event, whereas, the travel ban does not let the person enter or exit the country permanently until specifically removed. In the case of a travel ban, the accused will not be allowed to cross the border or enter UAE, however, it does not mean that he will be detained at the airport unless specifically mentioned by the court or competent authority. All the arrest warrants entail travel ban, but all the travel ban does not require an arrest warrant.

UAE Laws on Travel Ban

The legislature of UAE does not involve a particular law designated to issues pertaining to a travel ban and the procedure for its removal. However, its existence is evident from various federal laws of UAE. Accordingly, Federal Law Number 6 of 1972 regarding the Immigration law and an amendment through Ministerial Decree Number 83 of 2002 which provides a non-exhaustive list of categories under which an expatriate cannot enter or exit the country. The preceding list is defined under Article 94 of the Decree as follows:

Individuals restricted from entering the country:

      The individual against whom a criminal complaint has been filed;

b.      A person who has been deported by the competent authority;

c.       An individual who has been expelled or has a travel ban from GCC countries;

d.Anyone who is involved in the activity reported by Interpol;

e.      Someone who suffers from a disease which is hazardous for public health.

Individuals who are restricted to leave the country:

a.      Anyone who holds a travel ban imposed by any public prosecutor due to an ongoing investigation;

b.      Someone who is banned by the criminal or civil court;

c.       Ban issued by the Minister for those who default in the payment of debts of UAE government.

Reasons and Removal of Travel Ban

Although UAE does not have a specific legislature for a travel ban, foreign expatriates can still face travel bans on several grounds which is broadly classified under following groups along with a procedure to remove the ban, subject to the discretion of UAE government:

i.                    Violation of laws of Immigration

Under the laws of Immigration, an expat a face travel ban on several grounds such as:

·         If a person is employed without a valid work permit;

·        Illegally entering into the country;

·         Overstay on the visa;

·         Resigning the job without updating the employer or leaving the country without cancelling work permit.

Procedure for removal

The bans are issued automatically by a competent authority and can be extended for a lifetime. This ban can be imposed if requested by one party like the employer, and the competent authority declares the employee as absconding and imposes a permanent travel ban. The accused can submit an application before the immigration authority for removal of the travel ban. However, it is advised to seek legal representation from Criminal Lawyers in Dubai for removal of such ban.

Outstanding debt

In case of unpaid debt, the creditor is empowered under Article 329 and 330 of the UAE Civil Procedure Code, through which he can submit a request before the competent court to prohibit the debtor from travelling when there is a strong apprehension that the debtor will abscond from the country without paying the debt which will frustrate the whole proceedings. Therefore, the request for the ban is to recover the outstanding payments. However, the ban ceases to exist if the debt is repaid.

Procedure for Removal

The ban is imposed upon the request of the creditor. However, there are certain conditions and perquisites which the creditor must consider prior to submitting a written request for travel ban as outlined in Article 329 of the Civil Code as follows:

·         The creditor must prove beyond any doubt that the debtor will abscond;

·         The amount of debt exceeds AED 10,000;

·         The debt should be of definite amount;

·         If the debt amount is not clear, then the judge is authorized to analyze the debt on the basis of written evidence and the guarantee submitted by the creditor to cover the damages.

Under the preceding circumstances, the debtor can apply to the court to object the travel ban by filing a complaint before a higher judge. Also, the ban can be removed in some instances as follows:

·         If a creditor takes back the application;

·         If debtor submits a bank guarantee;

·         If debtor repays the claim in the court or to the creditor.

iii.                Criminal offence

An automatic travel ban is imposed on the person if he is charged with a criminal offence or has violated any provision of the criminal law. It can also be imposed in civil or commercial transactions such as cheques bounce.

Procedure for Removal

A ban in a criminal offence remains into force until the period of investigation, trial and judgment of the criminal case. In such circumstances, the accused can submit a complaint before the competent court and can request a bail, however, it is pertinent to note that under a travel ban of criminal offence, the accused can submit application for bail and can be released from the police custody, however, will not be allowed to travel until the final judgment.

iv.                Personal Status law

In accordance with the Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 concerning the Personal Status Law, the guardian can request the court to impose a travel ban on the child/children as a consequence of which the fosterer will not be able to travel outside the country without the written consent of the guardian. However, if the party fails to seek prior approval must justify before the court the reasons behind the travel. 

Procedure for Removal

The procedure for this travel ban is completed within 24 hours from the time of applying. In such circumstances, the relevant parent can apply for the removal of the travel ban on the child with strong reasons. Thus, it is always advised to seek legal representations to convince the court for such motion.

Careful Comparison between Deportation and Travel Ban

One of the most significant differences between the travel ban and deportation is the interest of the parties wherein; travel ban is imposed to protect the individual interest, whereas, deportation is imposed in the interest of the public at large. The annulment of a deportation order is though difficult, however, not impossible as under Article 132 of the UAE Penal Code, the deportation order can be lifted upon the request of the relevant authority.

Another issue which has been resolved by the Civil Procedure Law is regarding a situation in which a person having a deportation order holds a travel ban as well. In such cases, an ad hoc committee will be established which will decide the merit of the case. Also, if sufficient evidence for his outstanding dues has been submitted, the deportation order might be put on hold.

Conclusion

In any case, if you have a suspicion that a travel ban has been imposed on you in UAE, it is advisable to contact a Best Lawyers of Dubai and to conduct a check on your legal status before visiting UAE.