If you’re reading this article, then it's likely that you understand the relevance of the country of Qatar on the international stage. Qatar became famous in recent years for its immense wealth, its influence on international issues (for better or worse), and most recently for being selected as the host country for the 2022 soccer (football) World Cup. However, while you may be familiar with the relevance of the country itself, what you may not be familiar with is why understanding Qatar's immigration system is so vital.
Qatar rarely releases demographic information, but it is estimated that over 80 percent of Qatari males work in the public sector because of high salaries and luxury employment conditions. This means that for any company looking to hire a resource in Qatar, there is an overwhelming likelihood that that resource is going to be a foreign national, which means the company is going to have to deal with the Qatari immigration system.
Instead of examining the entire immigration system in Qatar, this article will strictly focus on the two aspects of Qatar immigration that pertain to obtaining a valid work visa. In its simplest form, obtaining work authorization in Qatar can be boiled down into two different scenarios:
- An individual who does not currently live in Qatar and needs to get a new work visa; and
- An individual who currently lives and works in Qatar, but needs to transfer the visa from his/her current employer to a new employer.
Beginning with the first scenario, every non-Qatari citizen needs to be sponsored by a local company in Qatar in order to work in the country. The person’s employer acts as the sponsor and takes care of much of the administration required. As well as covering a person’s right to work in Qatar, the process of employer sponsorship also includes obtaining a residence permit.
A Work Residence Permit cannot be obtained unless the individual has a job offer or contract from an employer. Once a job offer is accepted, the employer will begin the application and inform the employee of what documentation is required. Documents such as a certified educational degree verification, passport and marriage certificates (if applicable) will need to be attested by both the Foreign Office in the country of issue and the Qatar embassy to confirm they are genuine. A medical test is also required.
Workers coming to Qatar can initially come into the country on an Entry Visa and must remain in the country until the Work Residence Permit has been issued, which can take approximately six weeks.
As for the second scenario, when an individual is already living and working in Qatar, but wishes to switch employers, the individual must have his/her work visa transferred to the new employer. In order to achieve that transfer, the most important piece of the process is obtaining a Non-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the current employer. The current employer must draft an NOC granting permission for the employee to transfer to a new employer. The NOC then must be submitted to Ministry of the Interior and the process for the transfer typically takes about 3 weeks.
*This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this document should be construed as legal or formal immigration advice. Please contact your immigration counsel for advice regarding specific cases.