Qatar abolishes exit visa system

Foreign workers in Qatar will no longer need exit permits from their employers to leave the country.

Foreign workers in Qatar will now be able to leave the country without having to acquire exit permits from their employers.

The amended residency laws were announced by Qatar’s Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, Issa al-Nuaimi.

However, employers will be allowed to apply from exemption from the new law. Such applications must include “justifications based on the nature of the work”, and can only be applied to at most 5% of the employer’s workforce.

Further, foreign workers in Qatar who wish to change jobs, still require the permission of their current employers.

More than 90% of Qatar’s population comprises foreign migrant workers. Most of these hail from Asia, particularly India and South Asia. 

Under the controversial "kafala" system, practised in the Gulf countries, migrant labourers are at the mercy of their visa sponsors. The treatment of workers under this system has long been criticised by international labour groups as abusive and exploitative.

It has been reported that Qatar is looking turn this image around, and to present a picture of progress and development during the 2022 football World Cup, which it will be hosting. Other proposed labour law reforms include the introduction of a minimum wage and establishment of formal grievance procedures.

 

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