Visas and Work Permits 8 min

Work permits and visas in Qatar: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman

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The Middle Eastern nation of Qatar has recently emerged as a major destination for remote workers and relocated workers from around the world. And it’s no surprise why. The country boasts relatively low living costs, high-speed internet, and an investment in technology that has made it a particularly attractive destination for digital nomads and tech workers. Plus, Qatar’s immigration system is much more straightforward than that of many other countries. 

Still, companies that want to hire remote workers based in Qatar, or relocate existing employees to Qatar, need to recognize and comply with relevant Qatari immigration, taxation, and labor laws. Though Qatar’s simplified immigration system is fairly straightforward, employers without owned entities in Qatar should still be aware of the relevant residency laws, or else face potential fines, penalties, and loss of employment in their workforce. 

This guide is a great resource to ensure that you are fully compliant with Qatari law when hiring employees living or traveling through Qatar. The guide will cover:

  • How to hire a candidate in Qatar without an owned entity there

  • How to hire a non-citizen of Qatar

  • How to relocate an existing employee to Qatar

  • How to hire a digital nomad living in Qatar while staying in compliance with Qatari law

The importance of immigration compliance in Qatar

If an employee is working remotely from Qatar, he or she will still have to ensure that all relevant visas and work permits are in place. 

Violations of immigration law in Qatar can result in fines or imprisonment for the relevant employee. Companies that are found to have hired employees in Qatar without proper right-to-work entitlements may face fines and lose specific business privileges under Qatari law. 

In Qatar in particular, it is notably important for employers to comply with Qatari immigration laws. This is because non-citizens in Qatar seeking to apply for a work visa will need sponsorship from their employer.

If a company is found to be out of compliance with relevant aspects of Qatari immigration law, it may have a much harder time finding new workers to sponsor there. Qatar is also known for strictly enforcing its labor laws, even going so far as to hold random inspections of workplaces to uncover violations. 

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Which workers need a right-to-work check in Qatar?

Qatari citizens do not need a specific right-to-work check to work for a foreign company. The key Qatar work visa requirements for a non-Qatari citizen are the possession of a legal residence permit and a legal work permit. 

With work permits in place, employees will not need additional right-to-work checks. However, a Qatari work permit is distinct from a basic residence permit. So if you are looking to hire non-Qatari citizens in Qatar, you will need to ensure that these employees have a valid work permit on top of their residence permit. 

Most people entering Qatar from another country will enter on a basic tourist visa. However, Qatar offers other types of visas as well for different circumstances. Family members of Qatari citizens can apply for family visas, while businesses can apply for business visas. 

However, if an employee living in Qatar would like to apply for a specific work permit, he or she will need specific sponsorship from an employer. As the employer, your company will need to register your employees with the Qatar Ministry of Immigration to begin the process of getting that employee a valid work permit. 

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Qatar?

Non-Qatari citizens who are members of the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states can attain a GCC residency visa to live and work in Qatar. This applies to citizens of the states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Outside these countries, non-citizens will need to acquire a work visa to legally work in Qatar. 

Due to Qatar’s specific laws, female employees may require additional considerations when applying for a work permit. Though a man who is living in Qatar under a family residency permit can apply for a work permit on his own, a married woman living in Qatar on a family residence permit may need official permission from her husband. 

All non-Qatari citizens outside GCC citizens will need preexisting employee sponsorship to apply for a work permit.

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Qatar?

Eligibility for work visas under Qatari law is largely dependent upon a preexisting employment contract. When a non-citizen applies for a work visa in Qatar, he or she must have an employment contract in place with a company, which can be submitted to the Qatari Ministry of Immigration. 

Additionally, the applicant must have a valid passport from another country and must be able to submit a medical certificate ensuring that he or she is in good health. If a married woman living in Qatar on a family residence permit wishes to apply for a work visa, she will submit permission from her husband in addition to her employment contract. 

What are the long-stay visa types in Qatar?

As mentioned before, Qatar has a few different types of long-stay visas for non-citizens. The work visa is contingent upon an applicant’s employment in Qatar, and will generally last during the length of the employment contract. Additionally, Qatar offers several types of long-term visas. These include:

Investor visa

Under Qatar’s investment visa, foreign nationals who have invested in specific Qatari businesses can obtain long-term residency without employer sponsorship. To apply for a Qatari investor visa, applicants will need to demonstrate ownership of a relevant stock or property, provide a certificate of good health, and pass a criminal background check. 

Real estate visa

Similar to an investor visa, this visa offers long-term residence in Qatar for foreign nationals who have purchased or invested in Qatari real estate. The application requirements for a real estate visa are the same as those of an investor visa. 

Family residence visa

As stated before, Qatar’s family residence visa is for the dependents (including spouses) of Qatari residents on another type of long-term visa. 

How do you get a work visa for Qatar?

In addition to a sponsorship from a Qatari employer, applicants for a Qatari work visa will need:

  • A completed application form

  • A valid passport

  • Payment of application fees

  • Biometric information

  • Medical records confirming good health

  • Proof of work qualifications

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in Qatar?

The work visa sponsorship process in Qatar begins when an employer first issues an employment contract for a foreign worker. This contract serves as a temporary work permit that allows the employee to legally enter Qatar without having to apply for a separate tourist or family visa. 

Once the employee arrives in Qatar, they will need to undergo a medical examination and a fingerprint screening within two weeks. During this period, the employee may not be allowed to leave Qatar legally. Once the employee’s work visa application is approved, he or she will be issued a Qatari work visa ID card. 

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Qatar?

Qatar does not offer specific visas for digital nomads.

However, employees do have a few means for legally taking on remote freelance work while living in Qatar under a work visa. The most common avenue for legal remote work in Qatar is to work as a “secondee.”

In this case, the employee will have an official work sponsorship from a Qatari employer but will receive permission from his or her employer to work for a secondary company. This can include both full-time work and part-time work done on top of the employee's main job. 

Generally, these secondee arrangements last for six-month periods, though they can be renewed. If you are looking to hire remote workers in Qatar without a legal presence in Qatar, your best bet will be to hire a “secondee” working under a work visa for a Qatari company. 

How Remote makes compliance in Qatar so much easier

When hiring remote workers in Qatar, or relocating current workers to the country, the employer will have to manage visas, immigration documents, employment contracts, medical records, and several other documents. Failure to account for any one of these variables can lead to legal or financial issues for the employer.

If you would rather not take on the hassle of opening and maintaining a legal entity in Qatar or the stresses of hiring, paying, and managing employees abroad, you can choose to partner with an employer of record like Remote. Remote can help you understand labor and immigration laws and help you manage everything from international payroll to taxes and benefits for a global team.

To learn more about the process of international employee relocation, download Remote’s useful Relocation Guide. If you have any questions about international hiring or employee relocation, contact our friendly team of employment experts who are happy to help.

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