Work Permits

Shield GEO is not operating in Qatar at this time. However, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to assist you with your employment needs or connect you with a trusted partner.

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.

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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.


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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

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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:

  • 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.

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:

  • 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.

Time: 2 – 4 weeks

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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:

  • 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

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:

  • 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.

Time: Approximately 6 weeks

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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.

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Types of visas in Qatar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Shield GEO: Global Immigration and Work Permits 

When an expanding company does not want the effort or cost of setting up a local entity themselves, a Global Employment Organization (GEO) provides them with a problem-free and cost-effective mechanism for a quick start. The company that is expanding into the foreign market can use Shield GEO to employ and payroll their staff in a particular country.

As the Employer of Record Shield GEO then assumes the legal responsibility for these employees, sponsoring them on work permits (if required), complying with local employment law and handling every aspect of immigration requirements.

The client remains responsible for day to day management of employees, and Shield GEO takes on responsibility for visa and work permit sponsorship and administering local employment.  The only difference for the employee is that their pay slip comes through Shield.

Shield GEO services can benefit a company in several scenarios:

  1. As a long term solution for employing staff in a foreign market
  2. temporary solution prior to establishing an entity

Challenges and Requirements of Obtaining Work Permits 

If a company does not have an entity established in a foreign market, there may be barriers to obtaining work permits.  Since many countries require a formal, registered business presence for work permit sponsorships, there is a tendency to look for ways around this regulation.  For example, sending employees on multiple short assignments, using the wrong type of visa or extending a work assignment without the proper documentation.

Failure to secure the proper immigration permissions carries risks for a company including:

  • Being denied entry/exit from a country if using a method of frequent travel for short term assignments, that violates visa requirements
  • Civil and criminal penalties for companies that attempt to circumvent immigration procedures
  • Tax violations, where extended stays or certain types of business activities require local tax and withholding compliance

By using the services of Shield GEO a company can avoid these ongoing pitfalls of staffing foreign offices, including the expense and damage to business reputation in the instance of any violations.  Repeated non-compliance by a company in a foreign market could create barriers to future business activity and expansion in that country.

Areas of Employment and Immigration Services By Shield GEO 

When a company uses Shield GEO to handle employment requirements, we can assist in the following areas:

  • Business visas, work visas, spouse and dependent visas
  • Immigration compliance based on local rules and practices
  • Employment contracts, payroll administration and tax withholdings

Each of these areas has their own specific in country structure of laws and regulations, and many foreign markets are becoming more strict in the enforcement of these rules.  Shield GEO helps you avoid any compliance or immigration issues that could delay or interrupt your staffing process.  For the client this means quicker deployment, reduced compliance risk and less expense.

The Shield GEO immigration service uses these basic steps on behalf of the client:

  1. Shield provides the client with a roadmap outlining all processing steps, timeframes, actions and who is responsible for each activity.
  1. Employee / client supplies supporting documentation to Shield GEO. e.g. job description, CV, passport copy, educational and technical qualifications, etc.
  1. Shield lodges application with immigration department and handles the approval process.
  1. Shield advises client when the employee has been granted the immigration approval and can commence work in the host country.
  1. Shield becomes the Employer of Record and employs the staff on local Employment Contracts that are fully compliant with the host countries employment regulations.
  1. As their employer in the eyes of the host country, Shield GEO is fully responsible for the staff’s compliance with employment, immigration, tax and payroll.
  1. Shield GEO invoices the client each month, deducts tax and social security and payrolls the staff.
  1. No change in day to day relationship between Employee and Client, just their pay slip comes from Shield instead of the Client.
  1. Shield GEO monitors immigration requirements in the host country and advises the client of any changes which affect the employment (e.g. changes in renewal requirements, etc).
  1. When the assignment comes to an end, whether because the assignee is leaving country or the client has decided to take over employment directly:
  • The client gives notice under the framework agreement
  • Shield GEO gives the employee the notice required under the Employment Contract
  • Shield GEO informs the immigration authorities that the work permit will terminate on the last date of employment
  • Shield GEO runs the final payroll.

The Disadvantages of Using In House Resources for a DIY Approach 

If a company decided to handle all of these areas on its own, there is a great deal of work, management and expense involved, which will differ between each host country.  Some of the steps involved will include:

  • Full registration of a local entity to sponsor work permits
  • Obtaining a business license from the immigration department
  • Liability for every aspect of compliance with employment laws
  • Expense of hiring immigration attorneys to ensure compliance
  • Regular reviews of the business license, and potential changes in conditions or limitations of the scope of work activity
  • Immigration inspections of the local office to review documents, permits and visas
  • The task of processing all visa and work permit documents


There is a real advantage for expanding multinational companies in using the immigration and work permit services of Shield GEO.  Shield handles the complex and country-specific employment administration, while the client can focus on the substantive business activity and employee performance.  When the client uses Shield for its immigration and work permit documentation, they are assured that employees will be in compliance with local laws and can pursue their assignment without delays or obstacles.  If you are interested in learning more about immigration rules in a particular country please contact us.