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:
Cost: QAR 200 per application
2. 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:
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.
3. 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:
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
4. 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:
Time: 2 – 4 weeks
5. 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:
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
6. 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.
|Category||Description of Visa|
|Qatar Tourist Visa||
Qatar tourist visas may be obtained on arrival by visas from a selection of 33 countries. The purpose of this visa is for short-term stays for the purpose of leisure. The tourist visa is valid for two weeks and may be extended up to three weeks. A reservation at a hotel in Qatar or a relative residing in Qatar is required to apply and pay for the visa.
A Longer Tourist Visa may be obtained for up to three months’ stay and must be applied for prior at a Qatar embassy prior to arrival.
Required documents include: application submitted through a hotel manager, copy of passport, ID card of the hotel, ID card of the applicant.
Fees: QAR 100
|Qatar Business Visa||
The primary purpose of the Qatar business visa is for employees who will travel to Qatar and will work for a Qatari company for a short term. Only government-approved sponsors may sponsor business visas. The business visa is valid for two weeks and may be extended to four weeks. Any stay beyond four weeks requires an exit visa to leave the country. During this period, the employee may engage in limited business activities, but not direct work.
Requirements: The applying company must have prior approval by the relevant departments. The application form must be submitted through a company representative or owner. A copy of the passport of the employee should e provided. The ID of the company and the visa applicant is also needed.
Fees: QAR 200
|Qatar Work Visa||
Qatar work visas are arranged by the employer and are valid for 1 – 3 months. This is most applicable to employees who are intending to work for a Qatari employer for a period of time. To apply for a work visa, the employee must have a valid employment contract in place that must be approved by the Ministry of Labour. The employee must remain with the employer for the duration of work and must leave once the contracted job has been completed, unless there are provisions for the transfer of the employee to another employer.
To obtain the work visa, several medical tests must be conducted, including a blood test, fingerprinting, health check and a chest X-ray.
|Qatar Family Visa||
Any employee who currently works in Qatar may become a sponsor of their family so they may travel to Qatar and live with the employee. There is no expiration date on a Family Visa and is valid as long as the employee continues sponsoring them. The family sponsor must arrange his/her family’s residence permits in advance.
The following documents must be provided by the sponsor: passport photos of family members, applicable birth, education and marriage certificates, bank statement indicating at least 6 months’ salary worth of funds, and an approval letter from work.
Fee: QAR 200
|Qatar GCC Resident Visa||
Any resident of a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) country and are in an approved profession may obtain a one-month GCC Resident Visit Visa through a Qatari embassy. The visa may be renewable for an additional three months. Proof of their profession must be provided during the application of this visa.
Fee: QAR 100
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