Are you having trouble getting your passport from your employer when you return to your home country? You must understand that employers keeping the passport of their employees are illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The practice of keeping the passport of foreign employers has been going on for quite some time in UAE. However, it is clearly stated in Circular No. 267 of 2002 which was issued by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) that this practice of withholding passports is illegal unless done in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Meanwhile, if the employee gives consent to the employer and handed over the passport, then such possession of the passport is considered not illegal as long as there is written consent. The employer must also agree to return the passport upon the employee’s consent.

Additionally, if the employee is employed at a company that is based in the mainland of Dubai, the provisions which are stated at the Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 which regulates the Employment Relations in the UAE (Employment Law) will be applied.

By this, if your employer terminates you from your work if you demand your passport to be returned, then the termination will be tagged as arbitrary termination.

“A worker’s service shall be deemed to be arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for termination is irrelevant to the work. More particularly, termination shall be regarded as arbitrary if it is prompted by a formal complaint filed by the worker with the competent authorities or a legal action instituted against the employer that proved to be valid,” says Article 122 of the Employment Law.

In case your employer refuses to return your passport, you can approach the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation over this matter or you can simply file a complaint at the nearest police station.

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