It is ‘ab­so­lutely il­le­gal’ for some­one to hold pass­ports

7 Days in Dubai - - DEAR 7DAYS... -

In re­sponse to the let­ter ‘I thought it was il­le­gal to hold onto pass­ports’, it is ab­so­lutely not ac­cept­able – or le­gal – for any­one to re­tain a per­son’s pass­port. Tech­ni­cally a pass­port is owned by the gov­ern­ment that is­sues it, not even the in­di­vid­ual, so any or­gan­i­sa­tion that seeks to hold some­one’s pass­port is il­le­gally with­hold­ing gov­ern­ment prop­erty. In 2002 the UAE Min­istry of In­te­rior is­sued a cir­cu­lar that stated “As the pass­port is a per­sonal doc­u­ment that the law obliges its owner to keep and show when re­quired by the gov­ern­men­tal author­i­ties, it is not al­lowed for any party to de­tain the pass­port ex­cept by the of­fi­cial par­ties with a ju­di­cial or­der and ac­cord­ing to the law. Con­se­quently it will be con­sid­ered as an il­le­gal ac­tion to de­tain the pass­port in the UAE ex­cept by the gov­ern­men­tal par­ties”. This state­ment is still valid and noth­ing in UAE law per­mits em­ploy­ers to re­tain an em­ployee’s pass­port for any longer than is re­quired to ob­tain or can­cel visas. In ad­di­tion, no one can fine an in­di­vid­ual for want­ing their own pass­port. Em­bassies will con­firm that they ad­vise their cit­i­zens that the prac­tice of com­pa­nies hold­ing pass­ports is in clear vi­o­la­tion of UAE law, although there is not much that an em­bassy or con­sulate can do to help. A hand­ful will con­tact a com­pany on an em­ployee’s be­half if re­quested, but gen­eral ad­vice in the sit­u­a­tion of an em­ployer re­tain­ing a pass­port and re­fus­ing to re­turn it is to reg­is­ter a case with the Min­istry of Labour. An in­di­vid­ual can go to any labour of­fice or con­tact the helpline on 800 665. Khalid UAE

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