To legally work in Qatar, expats require the relevant permits. Aside from business visas, expats working in Qatar for long periods must obtain a work permit, formally known as Work Residence Permits or an RP. All types of visas allow entry into the country and can be exchanged for an employment-based residence permit after the holder arrives.

Getting a work permit for Qatar

Expats will need to have found a job and a local employer to act as their sponsor before they apply for a work residence permit for Qatar. After the necessary paperwork is completed, the employing sponsor usually takes responsibility for the application and follow up on its progress.

Here are five steps to securing a work residence permit for Qatar:

Step 1 – Find a job

Expats must first find and secure a job before applying for their working visa. Once this is done, the employer is largely responsible for the application process.

Step 2 – Prepare documents as advised by the employer who applies for a temporary visa

After negotiating the terms of employment, the employer applies to the Qatari government to hire an expatriate. Given the number of foreign workers in Qatar, many companies are familiar with the application process and some even have a separate department devoted to it.

The company should know which documents are needed to start the application process since requirements often vary between jobs. Expats should have multiple, notarised copies of all the required documents for their personal records.

Step 3 – Receive a temporary visa and travel to Qatar

Employers will organise and send a temporary visa which can be tracked using the Hukoomi website. With a temporary visa, expats can travel to Qatar.  

Step 4 – Apply for a work residence permit

After arriving, applicants must then follow bureaucratic and administrative procedures to convert their temporary visa to the Work Residence Permit, the RP. This generally takes two to four weeks and, during this time, applicants are not allowed to leave the country.

Expats must have prearranged documents as per their employers’ instructions. They generally must submit their:

  • passport
  • certificate of good conduct
  • latest educational certificate, either originally in or translated to Arabic

Documents must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatar embassy in the expat’s country of application

Expats must also take a health and medical examination, which they can book in advance through the official website of the Ministry of Public Health. This then gets sent online to the Criminal Evidence and Information Department.

Step 5 – Collect RP and register employment contract

Finally, with the RP, applicants can properly begin their life in Qatar, and obtain their Qatar ID, apply for driving licences, sign rental accommodation agreements and open a bank account.

They must ensure their employment contract is registered in Arabic at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs. This must record the job title, working hours, salary and other working benefits.

Family visit and residence visas

Expats can sponsor their relatives to come on a family visit visa or a family residence visa. Expats who have a residence work permit for Qatar and earn more than QAR 10,000 per month can legally sponsor their family for a residence visa.

Certain documents must be submitted, usually including application forms for each family member, an employer’s letter, passport copies and proof of residence, as well as birth and marriage certificates, where applicable.

Expats in Qatar on a family-sponsored residence permit are not allowed to work, but can apply to the Labour Department for the right to do so after they arrive. Women under this visa sponsored by their husband must get their approval to work.

*Visa and work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.