LIBERAL: Qatar is the most liberal country in the Gulf which permits a lot of freedom for migrants and permits them almost equal rights with citizens

Unlike in other Gulf countries Qatar offers you a permanent residency visa and work permit and even permits you to set up your own company in the Sultanate. It is not widely known that Qatar was originally a British colony in which Dhirubai Ambani was a petrol attendant!

The rules governing the employment of workers in Qatar are governed by law No.14 of 2004 of the Labour Law, administered by the Labour Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. For persons intending to work in Qatar, a permanent residency visa and a work permit is required to legally work in Qatar. The employer acts as the local sponsor for the employee and arranges the necessary appointments to obtain both the visa and permit.
The employment process for Qatar is much more complex than other countries due to the traditional kafala sponsorship system which binds the employee to the employer. Employers hold much more power over the employee in employment matters, where employees must obtain an exit visa and the consent of the employer before terminating their work and leaving the country. In addition, Qatarization places priority of employment to Qatari workers, while non-Qatari workers may only be employed if it is approved by the Labor Department, work permits are issued and if there is a need for such stuff. Careful consideration of these factors must be given prior to hiring employees in Qatar.

  1. Registration of Business with the Immigration Department

The first step is to register the business entity with the Immigration Department of the General Directorate of Borders, Passports and Expatriate Affairs at the Ministry of Interior in order to apply for a work permit. The business entity becomes a worker’s sponsor upon obtaining an immigration card, which expires on the same date as the business’ trade license. A Representative Card must also be obtained so an appointed employee may act on behalf of the company when dealing with the Immigration Department and Ministry of Labour.
The required employer documents are as follows:
• Completed application form for Immigration Card/Representative Card typed in Arabic, stamped and signed
• Copy of passport of all authorized signatories, business owners and representatives
• Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
• Copy of Trade Licence
• Immigration card (For Representative Card application)
• 2 colour passport-sized photos of representative
Cost: QAR 200 per application

  1. Approval of Ministry of Labour

The business must apply for the approval of the Ministry of Labour for the amount of work permits that will be issued to foreign workers to be used in the following year prior to any hiring. This is done through a block visa application that will be considered by the Labour Department.
The following documents and information must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour by the employer:
• Completed application form in Arabic
• The total number of expatriates to be employed
• Positions of each employee
• Nationalities of the employees
Due to Qatarization laws, the Ministry will consider factors such as the existence of unemployed Qatari nationals who may fill the position and whether the position can only be filled by a foreign national in the process of approving work sponsorship of the company.

  1. Employment Visas

It is the responsibility of the employer to obtain an employment visa for each employee that will be hired before he/she enters Qatar. There is a possibility of entry into Qatar of the employee under a visit visa, who can then apply for an employment visa, although work must not commence until the employment visa is acquired. It is the employer who will become each worker’s sponsor.
The following documents and information must be submitted to the Ministry of Labour by the employer to obtain an employment visa:
• Completed application form in Arabic
• Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
• Immigration card of the business
• Copy of a valid employment contract between sponsoring company and employee
• Copy of the employee’s passport
• Four passport-size photos
Once the employment visa is acquired, a copy should be sent to the employee and the original lodged at the employee’s arrival airport prior to the employee’s arrival into Qatar. Employment visas are generally valid from one to five years.
Cost: QAR 200
Time: 2 – 4 weeks

  1. Work Permit

A work permit must be arranged for within seven working days of the employee’s arrival in Qatar. Usually, this can only be done after an employment arrangement has been agreed upon. Before an application for the work permit is submitted, a medical certificate must be obtained indicating the health of the employee. The employee must take a medical test at a government-approved hospital, and requires a copy of their passport, employment visa, four passport-sized photos and a fee.
Once the medical certificate is issued, an application for a work and residence permit can be applied for, issued for one, two or three years.
The required employer’s documents needed for a work permit are as follows:
• Completed application form from the Ministry of Labour
• Employment contract
• Medical certificate of the employee
• Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
• Immigration card of the business
• 2 passport-sized photos of the employee
• Copy of the employee’s passport
• Employment visa
• Relevant educational documents
• Biometric fingerprints test
Time: 2 – 4 weeks

  1. Residence Permit

Once the employment visa and work permit are approved and copies are sent to the employee, the employee may travel to Qatar and collect the visa and necessary documents from the airport. In addition, a medical check-up and fingerprint scans must be taken. The residence permit application begins now which converts the work entry visa to a residence permit, where the employee may not leave the country. The residence permit application is lodged by the employer and must be commenced within 7 days of arrival.
The Labour Department must approve a dual language English and Arabic local contract under Law No.14 of 2004 in the Labour Law. The employee’s employment documents such as the employment contract must be presented for the application, otherwise other relevant documents such as payroll records and bank statements must be submitted.
The following documents must be submitted by the employer to the Ministry of Labour:
• Completed Residence Permit application for in Arabic and English
• Original medical certificate
• Copy of the Commercial Registration of the business
• Copy of the immigration card of the business
• 2 passport sized photos of the employee
• Original employee’s passport
• Original employment visa
• Sponsor’s passport if employer is an individual
Once the residence permit is issued, the employee may work under the employer until their employment terminates, which must be renewed every few years depending on each case.
Cost: QAR 1,200 per year
Time: Approximately 6 weeks

  1. Exit Visa

An additional step for foreign nationals employed by a Qatari employer is that they obtain exit permits from the Ministry of Interior before leaving Qatar. The sponsor/employer holds the power to approving an exit permit to employees. The visa is valid for only seven days, and may be a multiple-exit visa.
Cost: QAR 10 for a single exit permit. QAR 500 for a multiple-exit permit

Types of visas in Qatar

Types of visas in Qatar

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