The Qatar government recently announced new visa and travel suspensions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key points:

  • All non-Qatari nationals are banned from entering to Qatar until further notice.
  • Beginning March 15, inbound travel from France, Germany, Spain and Sudan has been suspended until further notice.
  • New work, business and family visas will no longer be issued beginning March 15 until further notice, for companies under QFC authority.
  • The suspension likewise applies to new resident permit applications, for companies under QFC authority.
  • Exit permits for government and semi-government employees will be discontinued from March 19.
  • The exit permit system (for travel notifications) for government and semi-government employees not subject to the Labor Law, will be discontinued from March 19 for all but 5% of employees as determined by their employers.
  • Employees allowed to leave the country on a temporary basis or a final exit, can do so without using an exit permit during their work contract period.
  • The new exit policy applies to employees and workers in various professions: the oil and gas sector and its subsidiaries, agriculture and irrigation, private offices, public bodies and ministries, marine vessel employees in Qatar waters, and government agencies and other institutions.
  • Five percent of these employees are not covered by this policy and must apply with their employers for a temporary or final exit permit.
  • A text message will be sent to those individuals in this group to notify them they must apply through their employers in order to exit the country temporarily or permanently.

Analysis & Comments: The new suspensions on visas and inbound travel will greatly disrupt travel into Qatar. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing.

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