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Qatar Immigration Information
 
 
 

NOTE: The information below is just a general guide. Please refer to the relevant embassy/consulate for updated information.

Visa & Permit

The movement of foreigners is tightly controlled in Qatar, and issuing of visas and other permits is subject to strict bureaucratic procedures.

Those who are denied access therefore have little opportunity for appeal. Fortunately, the average expatriate doesn’t need to deal with much of the bureaucracy. Most companies and institutions, large or small, have a ‘fixer’, whose job is to wade through the red tape generated by the various ministerial departments in order to obtain work and residence visas for foreign workers and their families. The fixer will also act as your guide whenever your presence is required.

The documents required to enter Qatar include the following:

a passport valid for at least six months (it’s useful to have at least three or four photocopies);
at least six passport-size photographs;
a marriage certificate (if applicable);
birth certificates for all family members;
a medical certificate in the case of workers.

Note that foreigners working in Qatar must have a certificate to show that they’re in good general health and free from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, although tests are usually also carried out locally. Your sponsor will advise you what’s required.

Note also that any visible connection with Israel, e.g. an Israeli passport or an Israeli entry stamp, will disqualify you from entry.

While you’re in Qatar, you’re required to carry identification documents, e.g. passport or national identity card and appropriate entry and residence visas. Note that it’s common for labour officials to carry out spot checks on businesses in search of workers employed illegally and to inspect passports in the possession of the employer.

This isn’t to suggest that the region’s countries are repressive regimes: expatriates have little to worry about if they conduct themselves in a reasonable way, obey the laws and observe the rules of the culture. Indeed, you will usually be treated with kindness and generosity.

Obtaining a Visa/ Permit

GCC nationals can enter Qatar freely, as can holders of full status British passports (with rights of abode).

All other nationalities must obtain Qatari sponsorship through a hotel or an individual. It’s necessary to check that the embassy or consulate you choose to approach has the facility to issue visas.

Tourist Visa
Only hotels are able to procure these, and the visa duration corresponds to your length of stay at the hotel. An onward or return ticket is required, along with the usual documents.

Visitor Visa
You can obtain a visitor visa either via a Qatari sponsor or by submitting your documents to the embassy or consulate in your home country. Single journey stays can be up to three months, but stays of over 30 days require a medical.

Business Visa
Business visas are valid for three months from their date of issue and are for a single visit for a period of one week, with possible extensions up to four weeks. The simplest and quickest route to secure a business visa is for your sponsor to organise one in Qatar.

Work & Residence Visas
The procedure for obtaining work and residence visas is lengthy and complex and is put into motion by your sponsor. A number of formalities must be observed, including a full medical examination (including an HIV test) and the submission of academic and professional qualifications. In many cases, these formalities are dealt with during a visit to Qatar on a visitor or business visa. You might also need to supply original marriage and birth certificates if applying for family status. Residence visas are valid for between one and three years. Multi-entry visas are available in certain circumstances.

Exit Visa
The sponsored individual (i.e. the working member of a family) is required to obtain an exit visa if he has been in the country for 30 days or more. This can be obtained by your sponsor. Families are exempt from this requirement.

Citizenship

As a foreigner, you won’t be granted rights of citizenship in Qatar.

Qatar’s government is keen to protect the status quo and doesn’t want to compromise its cultural values or standard of living by allowing foreigners to become a permanent part of society. Your only route to becoming a naturalised citizen is by marriage to a national; even this, however, doesn’t guarantee citizenship, particularly for non-Muslims.

In exceptional circumstances only, Qatar’s ruler might grant citizenship to a foreigner who has provided outstanding service to the state over a number of years. A generous employer might reward a loyal worker who has made a major contribution to the company over many years by providing him with a work and residence permit of indefinite duration. After your retirement, however, the employer would have to be a figure of considerable influence to maintain this gift and satisfy the labour authorities. In this case, you wouldn’t be a citizen, but merely be allowed to remain in the country indefinitely.

Children of foreigners born in Qatar don’t have rights of local citizenship and automatically assume the nationality of the parents. If one of the parents is a national of Qatar, the child will usually be granted local nationality and may later become a national of Qatar and obtain a local passport.

It’s recommended that you fully acquaint yourself with the implications of giving birth in Qatar.

In many cases, the child isn’t affected, but any children that he has might not enjoy the same rights of nationality, citizenship, abode, etc. as his parents and grandparents.

 

 
 

 



 


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