Since our last article regarding the subject, as of October 28, 2018 Law No. 13 of 2018 amending certain provisions of Law No. 21 of 2015 Regulating the Entry, Exit and Residence of Expatriates (the “New Law”) has gone into full effect. The New Law effectively abolished the exit permit system for expatriate employees living and working in Qatar. Various government bodies in Qatar including the Ministry of Interior (“MOI”) and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (“MOADLSA”) have officially implemented the new system which no longer requires employer permission to leave the country.
The MOI has updated their website whereby individuals can now check their exit permit status (i.e. whether they will require an exit permit in order to exit the country). Although the Joint Coordination Committee between the MOI and MOADLSA has been encouraging sponsors/employers to submit the list of names of employees for which an exit permit will still be required (up to 5% of the overall work force for a particular company), the relevant authorities have confirmed that providing such a list is entirely optional.
In its efforts to lead the region on labour reforms and ensure high standards for labour rights and safety as well as a strong workforce, Qatar has also set up visa centres abroad, with the first already set up in Sri Lanka. The overseas visa centres are tasked with taking fingerprints and vital data, conducting medical examination and signing employment contracts for expatriates out of the State of Qatar. One of the aims of this initiative is to protect workers coming to work in Qatar from exploitation by agents, who often charge workers large sums of money in facilitation of their immigration process.
By Lama Bakroun – Associate
Michael Earley – Senior Associate