Foreigners wishing to settle and work in Qatar first have to obtain a work visa and a resident permit. They also need a sponsor.
To work in Qatar, it is compulsory to be in possession of a valid residence permit and a work visa. Administrative procedures to get legal authorizations to live and work in Qatar are often complex: first, you must find a “sponsor”, i.e. a local employer wishing to hire you. The sponsor initiates the work visa application by requesting all legal authorizations to hire a foreign worker to the Ministry of Interior of Qatar. The sponsor has a particular role to play since he must vouch for you for situations such as when you open a bank account or when you sign a rental lease in the country.
Once the procedure is underway, foreign workers must then travel to Qatar with a single entry visa, valid for at least three months so as to carry out all compulsory administrative procedures and apply for a residence visa once there. If you leave the country within this 3 month period, the process will reset to day one as soon as you enter the country again. You can contact your embassy for more information about entry visa applications.
Once in Qatar, you must get a residence permit and a work visa. Local companies generally undertake visas and permits procedures for their expatriate employees. However, blood tests and x-rays are compulsory. HIV testings are also performed; in case of infection, you must leave the country. You will also be fingerprinted.
Once the residence permit and work visa are in your possession, you will be allowed to work in Qatar. Note that you must work for your sponsor only; if you want to take another job, a minimum period of two years in employment with your original sponsor is compulsory. After two years, and if you want to take another job with another sponsor, your employer must give you a certificate: this is called the NOC (“No Objection Certificate”). Sponsorship cannot be transferred to another employer if you don’t receive your NOC from your initial sponsor.
Holders of work visas can bring their families with them if they earn a salary package of 8000 riyals or above. They must sponsor residence permits for their spouses and children under 25 years old. In most situations, it is very difficult for a wife to sponsor a husband, but not the other way around. In these situations, the husband will be required to get separate sponsorship or to apply for family visit visas for 6 months at a time. It is possible for women to be employed under their husband’s sponsorship. In these situations, you will not receive a full ex-pat package with extras such as a housing allowance, but you will be provided with a basic salary and the flexibility to change employers without a No Objection Certificate.
If a foreign worker must temporarily leave Qatar, an exit visa is compulsory. The exit visa does not apply for dependants.
Good to know:
Once in Qatar, it is necessary to get a local identity card containing your personal information (the type of visa you hold, nationality, etc..) To apply for a “smart ID card”, visit the Government of Qatar online to find out about the application procedure.
If you want to work additional hours for another employer or privately freelancing (for example tutoring), you may need the permission of your employer/sponsor to do so. Not requesting this permission can lead to serious consequences and a breach of contract.