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When Law No. 21 of 2015 that regulates the entry, exit and residency of expatriates in Qatar comes into force towards the end of next year, the current two-year ban on expatriates who want to come back to the country on a new work visa will no longer be applicable.

A foreign worker who has got a new contract to work in Qatar can come back even the next day, provided he has met the other requirements like visa, a top official of the Ministry of Interior has clarified.

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Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed al-Atiq, assistant-director general of the Department of Border, Passport and Expatriates Affairs, pointed out that the two-year ban on return of an expatriate worker was directly linked to the sponsorship (kafala) system. Since the new law abolishes kafala, a person who had previously worked in Qatar would not have to seek the approval of his former sponsor if he is recruited by a new employer, he said.

Brigadier al-Atiq said expatriates are deported only on the basis of a court order and this had no connection with the issue of a two-year ban even in the old law, according to reports in the local Arabic media.

According to Article 26 of the new law, if a foreign worker is fired as a punitive measure and he did not appeal his dismissal or his plea was rejected by a court, he shall not be permitted to come back to Qatar before the passage of four years.

Also, an expatriate worker repatriated upon a court verdict cannot come back unless he got the approval of the Minister of Interior.

Brigadier al-Atiq stressed that according to the stipulations of the new law, the work contract will be the prime document that will determine the employee-employer relationship.

It will be the basis for litigation, rights and liabilities between the employer and the worker. The contract, which both must sign has to be approved by the authorities concerned in the country. The duration mentioned in the contract shall be binding on both parties.

Saleh al-Shawi, director of the Legal Affairs Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA), said that expatriate workers can take up new jobs upon the conclusion of their contractual obligations but they have to seek the approval of both the Ministry of Interior and MOLSA.

As in the old system, workers can change jobs any time if the current employer issues a no objection certificate.

“As per provisions of the new law, closed contracts shall not exceed a period of five years. Workers who have open-ended contracts can move to another employer after spending a minimum of five years with the first employer. The notice period shall be two months for less than five years of service and it will be the period agreed in the work contract in case of more than five years of service,” Arabic dailies quoted al-Shawi as saying.

He stressed that the law protected the rights of expatriate workers. “If the work contract endows a worker with more privileges and advantages than mentioned in the law, the former will be approved and applied. It is possible to modify the contract at any time provided both the employer and the worker agree to the changes. In case of discrepancies, the worker will be given the best possible terms.”

The new law makes it possible for expatriates to apply themselves for exit permits through the approved channels of MoI, without having to seek the permission of the employer. The request would be granted within three working days. The employer will be notified in case he has any objection. In case of disputes a grievance committee will resolve the issue within three working days. If still not resolved, the issue will be referred to the court .

“In cases of emergency and the mutual agreement of both the worker and the employer the exit permit will be granted immediately.”

On October 27, HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued Law Number 21 of 2015 which abolishes the stipulations of Law Number 4 of 2009 regarding Regulation of the Expatriates Entry, Departure, Residence and Sponsorship.