What is the change? Qatar announced that it will no longer allow foreign nationals to convert to a work visa in-country after entering on a business visa, arrival visa or tourist visa.

What does the change mean? Under the new immigration regulation, employees already in Qatar must leave the country to convert from business to work status.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas.
  • Who is affected: Employees who wish to change status.
  • Impact on processing times: The new regulations may increase processing costs and time.
  • Business impact: Foreign assignees and employees entering Qatar on a business or tourist visa and converting status in-country are now required to either obtain a work visa before arrival in Qatar or leave Qatar to convert status.

Foreign nationals currently in Qatar planning to convert status will need to travel outside Qatar to complete the process. The employee must apply for the work visa from a Qatari consulate or embassy abroad and then may return to Qatar and enter on the issued work visa.

The second option is for the employee in Qatar to apply for the work visa in Qatar. Upon issuance, the employee must leave Qatar and then re-enter with the work visa.

It should be noted that it is still permissible for those holding a work visa to convert while in-country to another work visa with a different sponsor.

Regarding dependents of employees, those entering Qatar on an arrival visa or tourist visa are still able to convert in-country to a family visa.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be familiar with the new regulation and plan accordingly in order to get foreign nationals on board. They should also be aware that the new rules could lead to increased time and costs.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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