Qatar lifts Exit Permit requirement for most expatriates

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Most expatriates in Qatar under the labour law will no longer have to obtain exit permits in order to leave the country temporarily or for good within the duration of the work contract.

In a widely-welcomed move, Qatar has amended its residency laws to allow expatriates to leave the country without exit permits from their employers.

The Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani issued on Tuesday the Law No. 13 of 2018, amending certain provisions of the Law No. 21 of 2015 regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates, The Peninsula reported.

Law No. 13 of 2018, amends provisions of Law No. 21 of 2015 and Law No. 1 of 2017, which regulate the entry and exit of expatriates.

Under the new law, most expatriates would be able to leave the country without having to obtain permits from their employers under the law.

Who needs exit permit under the new law?

The new law specifies that employers may submit for approval to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs the names of workers for whom a “no objection certificate” would still be required, with a justification based on the nature of their work.

  • However, the number of these workers per company shall not exceed five per cent of their workforce, which means most of the expatriates would not require an exit permit.

A Ministerial Decree will follow outlining rules and procedures allowing the exit of workers who fall outside the Labour Code.

ILO welcomes the move

The International Labour Organization hailed the move as a “significant step” for gas-rich Qatar, which committed last year to introducing sweeping labor reforms, including changes to the exit visa system.

“The ILO welcomes the enactment of Law No. 13, which will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of migrant workers in Qatar,” said Houtan Homayounpour, the head of the ILO office in Doha, which was set up in April.

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According to Reuters, the official Qatar News Agency confirmed the adoption of Law No. 13, saying it amended “certain provisions” of previous laws regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates. It did not specify which provisions or offer details on the changes.

Qatar government’s other pledged reforms include introduction of a minimum wage and a grievance procedure for workers.

Published on 4 September 2018

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