Expats relocating to Qatar get extended time for residency permits

Published:  23 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving, Visas, Jobs
A law passed last October giving foreigners extra time to process residency permits is due to come into force on December 3.

The new sponsorship law is expected to make the lives of foreigners arriving in the emirate less stressful, as it extends the time allowed for arranging residency permits from seven days to 30 days. The same extension will apply to departure, residence and sponsorship.

It’s also expected the extension will make changing jobs or leaving the emirate more straightforward. However, the ruling has been received with mixed reactions, as the ,majority of expats will continue to need No Objection Certificates before a change of job, and those leaving will still have to get exit permits.

Quatari companies employing foreign staff have been attending briefing sessions held by government officials in order to fully understand how the new law will function in practice. Few of the details have yet been shared with the general expat community, but local media have now published a general outline of the requirements provided by Brigadier Abdulla Jabir al-Libdah.

Basically, expats will be allowed 30 days to begin the residency paperwork, and will be fined should they not comply. Those on open-ended contracts who have worked for more than five years will no longer need permission from their sponsor before moving on to a new job.

Expats on fixed-term contracts will not need to obtain an NOC in order to change employers after the end of their contracts. However, all expats wishing to change jobs must have the approval of Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.

At present, should an existing employer refuse to give an NOC, the employee must wait at least two years before taking another job. The new law is as yet unclear as to whether it will apply to existing contracts or require new contracts to be issued to foreign employees.

As regards exit permits, formerly issued by sponsors, these will now be granted by the BOI, with applications to be made three days or more before departure. However, employers must still give permission for expats to leave, with those denied the permit able to appeal to the Foreign Nationals Exit Grievances Council.
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