Staying in any country without a valid visa is obviously illegal. Illegal immigrants within country borders is not a problem that only Western countries such as USA or UK face, Qatar has a fair share of illegal immigrants in the region. Qatari authorities at regular intervals offer Amnesty schemes, which allow overstaying immigrants to travel back to their countries without any legal consequences as long as no matters are pending against them in the country’s courts.
Last year, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) offered one such Amnesty scheme, which ran for three months from September to December 1st, 2016. “A lot of people availed the amnesty offer and as the deadline draws closer the numbers will only increase as the illegals who avail this offer will not face any legal consequences, furthermore any fines against them are also waived off”, the Director of Search and Follow Up Department Brig Abdullah JaberLebdah told media as the scheme neared its end date.
However, the problem of overstaying foreigners is a recurring one and there is no permanent solution as of now. The best the authorities can do is launch routine crackdowns on illegal foreigners and deport them back to their native countries. The number of people who were illegally staying in Qatar before the Amnesty scheme was over 25,000, the latest numbers are yet to be released, however, they are expected to be significantly lower as large numbers of overstaying expats took advantage of the scheme to leave the country without any repercussions.
The authorities have taken several measures to crackdown on the illegals in country. Checkpoints, for instance, are setup regularly at random places in the country to check the identity documents of drivers and passengers, people who are not in possession of a valid id are taken in for questioning. To make it difficult for people to stay in Qatar illegally, the authorities have put laws in place to penalise employers who employ illegal workers. If any company is found employing illegal residents after the amnesty scheme has expired, they will face severe penalties, which may include imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of QR50, 000 or both.
However, overstaying people can leave the country anytime they want by paying a fine for each day they have overstayed here in Qatar. The amount of fine varies between visa types. The fine will be levied after one week from the date of Residence Permit cancellation. If the resident did not leave the country within seven days, the fine will be considered from the date of cancellation.Below is the list which shows the amount fined for overstaying in each visa category:
The maximum fine amount is QR 12000. If the fine amount exceeds this amount, it will be forwarded to the General Directorate of Borders Passports and Expatiate Affairs for its decision, says the MoI website