Getting setup in Qatar as an expat

Getting setup in Qatar as an expat

Congratulations! If you are reading this, you will have signed a job offer from your prospective employer.

Your company should now apply to the Ministry of Interior for a single entry visa, which will be your temporary residence visa once you arrive.

Your company’s PRO officer is authorised to handle the application process from start to finish.

Approval takes 4-8 weeks and your company will send you a copy of the scanned entry visa or you can print a copy from the Ministry of Interior website. The Immigration Officer at Hamad International Airport will stamp your passport with the corresponding visa, which he/she will have on their system.

This entry permit will let you start working, but your employer should immediately start the process of obtaining your work/residence permit. 

You will need the following:

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of highest educational certificate/degree, authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Qatar Embassy in your home country. Please note that you will need an Arabic translation of this certificate, done either in your home country or here in Qatar – usually your PRO will undertake handling the translation if you intend to get it done here.
  • Police Clearance Certificate from the country of the passport you are entering on, authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatari Embassy of that country.

If you are in Qatar already, you may be able to attest the document at your Embassy and the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The standard immigration procedure for obtaining a residence permit is divided into the following stages:

  • Medical Check: A blood test for HIV and TB and a chest x-ray.
  • Fingerprinting: Once your medical results are published online, your fingerprints must be taken by the Criminal Evidence and Investigation Department (CEID).

Your company’s PRO should make the necessary arrangements and appointments.

  • Residence Permit and ID card: Your company’s PRO will apply for these through the Immigration Department.

Getting your RP takes about 2-6 weeks and you cannot leave Qatar before then.

Expats earning over QR 10,000 per month can now sponsor their family’s residence visa. Attested marriage and birth certificates will be required.

Your employer must ensure that your contract is attested by the Ministry of Labour. Contracts should specify the job description, working hours, salary and any benefits that the employee is entitled to. The Arabic version of the employment contract governs employment and business arrangements as per Qatari law.

It’s impossible to get a residence permit in Qatar without an employment contract and a local employer to act as a sponsor. Employees may work only for their sponsor. After two years with the sponsoring company, it is possible to change sponsors if granted a no objection certificate. Residents (except the spouse or children) always require an exit visa to leave Qatar.

 

Banking

You can begin your banking procedures before you arrive in Qatar. When you pick Commercial Bank as your financial services partner, you can easily open your bank account before you land and even have your debit card and mobile SIM card waiting for you. All Commercial Bank needs initially is a copy of your passport. In order to assist you with your early expenses in Qatar while you settle in, you can apply online and your account will be set up in just a few days. Once your Commercial Bank account is set up, you can transfer funds into your account, so you have immediate access to money during your first few weeks in Qatar, with the assurance that your transfers are safe and secure with us. Once your account is activated and money has been deposited in your account you will receive a debit card which will allow you to pay for goods and services at all retail outlets in Qatar and gives you access to cash at over 126 Commercial Bank ATMs as well as ATMs of other banks. Your Commercial Bank debit card is also your ideal travel partner, giving you the ability to shop at over 27 million outlets and transact at over 700,000 ATMs worldwide. 

You can open a current account with Commercial Bank for your everyday banking needs, including a chequebook. You can set up a sole account or a joint account and manage your finances via mobile, Internet, bank branches and ATMs. You can also open your savings account with Commercial Bank and earn interest on your money with our various savings accounts. You can set up a sole account or a joint account and grow your savings while still having instant access to the funds.

Commercial Bank’s Sadara Privileged Banking brings qualifying individuals a range of preferential services and benefits. Sadara customers receive priority service round-the-clock, access to Sadara Lounges, personal financial advice, and exclusive offers, all coordinated by a Personal Relationship Manager. Sadara Privileged Banking is subject to qualification criteria of QR 25,000 monthly salary for Qataris (35,000 for Expats) or QR 350,000 total deposits balance or QR 400,000 in loans and total deposits.

Hospitals and Healthcare

Expats can choose between public and private healthcare. A Qatari Health Card entitles you to receive low cost treatment at well-equipped government health facilities.

Your company may offer you private medical insurance. Qatar has many private facilities offering a full scope of medical services.

Schools

September is when most international schools begin their new academic year but securing school places is always difficult.

Schools in Qatar follow a wide spectrum of curricula: British, American, French, Indian, International Baccalaureate as well as Lebanese, Egyptian and so on.

You may have to go on a waiting list for the school you want but with expats leaving all the time, there’s always a chance of getting a place. 

Most public schools have separate schools for boys and girls while private and international schools tend to be co-ed. The majority of schools use English as their medium of instruction.

If you decide on home schooling, the Doha Home Educators network can help get you started. If you have children with special needs, these groups can help you with your queries.

Family visas

You can bring your family out to Qatar to visit you on a short-term Family Visit Visa that is valid for one month.

This visa can be extended to a maximum of six months for immediate family members. In order to get an extension, family members who wish to stay longer than one month have to undergo a medical examination within 72 hours of arriving in Qatar. Other relatives can extend their stay to a total of three months.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to apply for a Family Visit Visa:

  • Complete the application form, which can be found here
  • Attach a copy of your Qatar ID, passport (with Visa page), along with a copy of the applicant’s passport
  • Attach a letter from your employer stating your salary and position in the company
  • Supply copies of marriage and / or birth certificates, as required, to show proof of relationship
  • Attach a copy of your rental lease, as proof of where the applicant will be staying while in Qatar. If you are on your spouse’s sponsorship and the rental lease is in your spouse’s name, then you will need to supply a marriage certificate to show proof of relationship and
  • Carry at least eight passport photographs of each applicant with you. Most visa applications require at least six passport photographs.
  • Submit the application to the Ministry of Interior’s main immigration office. This is located just west of D-Ring Road on Al Luqta Street.

Applying for family residence visa If you’re thinking about bringing your family out to Qatar to live with you, you will need to arrange for residence visas for them. If your monthly salary is over QR 10,000, your spouse and/or children are eligible for Family Residence Visas, under your sponsorship, once your residence visa and Qatar ID card have been issued.

Before you begin the application process for Family Residence Visas, check with your employer to see if they make provision for these. Employers are not obliged to process or pay for Family Residence Visas, but some companies do take care of this process as part of their policy.

One of the things to be aware of when applying for visas is that male children aged 25 years and over are not eligible to be on either parent’s visa; there is no age restriction for daughters, as long as they are not married.

There are certain simple administrative steps to follow when applying for Family Residence Visas. Your employer will usually take care of these administrative steps, so please check before you get started:

Your family can enter Qatar on entry visas.

They must then undergo the medical test and have their fingerprints taken.

The application for residence visas is only made after the medical tests have been completed.

The application process takes up to six weeks.

Spouses who wish to work, require special dispensation (in the form of a work permit) in order to be able to work while in their spouse’s sponsorship. This work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labor’s Employment Department.

When applying for a Family Residence Visa, you will need to prepare the following documents:

A completed application form

A letter from your employer, stating your position in the company and your monthly salary

Six months’ worth of bank statements

Copies of all family members’ passports

If you have adopted children, statements of adoption as well as reasons for adoption will be required

Copy of your marriage certificate; this document will need to be notarised by your country’s embassy in Qatar, as well as Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Copy of your children’s birth certificates; these documents will need to be notarised by your country’s embassy in Qatar, as well as Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Copy of your electricity bill to show proof of address

Things to remember when making your application:

The application must be filled out (typed) in Arabic. This can be done at a translation centre

You must have a Qatar ID before you apply for residence visas for your family

While you will only need to leave copies behind, you will need to show all originals at the time of application, so please be sure to bring all original documents with you (including bank statements)

You must earn at least QR 10,000 in order to be eligible to sponsor your family

If you work for a government agency, your employer’s letter stating your position and salary, will need to be approved by the Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Housing

If you are a GCC national, and your wife is of a different nationality, and you would like to bring her to Qatar, you will need a no-objection letter from your country approving your marriage to a foreigner

Once you have all the paperwork in order, you will need to make the application for Family Residence Visas to the Ministry of Labor’s Department of Employment for approval.