Living And Working In Qatar – An Expat FAQ

Qatar is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the booming economy is attracting increasing numbers of expat workers looking to live and work in the tiny Gulf state.

Between 2000 and 2010, the nation’s population rocketed from 600,000 to 1.5 million and more expat workers are heading there.

So how do expats get to work in Qatar?

Can anyone work in Qatar?

No, there are strict regulations about who can work in the country. Every expat, except a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) national, must have a Qatari national as a sponsor or a job with a Qatari registered business. This rule tends to discourage people looking for short term or casual work.

Do you need a visa to work in Qatar?

Yes, but don’t enter Qatar on a tourist, visitor or ‘on-arrival’ visa as these give no entitlement to work.

You need a work permit and a Qatari national or business will have these. A useful block application system means a Qatari national or business can issue a visa to expat workers, and they then send your details onto the relevant government agency.

Can you get a business visa?

Again, applicants need to be sponsored by a Qatari national or business and the visa is only valid for one month, though they can be extended. An application must be made before entering the country but, like work permits, they can be issued by a Qatari national or business. The visa holder can only represent themselves or their business – it does not entitle them to work in Qatar.

Can you get a residency permit in Qatar?

Residency permits are issued after a work permit has been granted and you will need to provide a copy of your passport, any education certificates and have sponsorship from a Qatari national or business. The catch here is that a residency permit only allows an expat to work for their sponsor and not for someone else. Family residency permits are available,  but you will also need to prove that you have sufficient funds to bring in dependents – the magic figure is currently around £1,700.

What happens if you leave your job in Qatar?

You can transfer work permits but only at the discretion of the Qatar immigration department, but you will need to have had a residency permit for more than a year and a letter from the original sponsor not raising any objections to do so.