Qatar’s sponsorship laws are making it increasingly harder for some families here to stay together.
In a report today, the Qatar Tribune profiled several expats who have had to leave their children with relatives in their home countries because they don’t make enough money to bring them here.
Speaking to the Tribune, Joana, a 24-year-old sales management officer, explained her family situation.
Until last November, Joana and her husband Daniel lived with their six- year-old daughter Frei in Qatar. However, all attempts to get a residence permit for her have failed, so she has had to return to the Philippines to live with her grandparents. Joana told the newspaper:
“It was a hard truth to accept when I was told that there was nothing else we could do but to let Frei go back. We were always together, all three of us.
I wanted to return to the Philippines with her. I was willing to resign from my job but my husband reminded me about our goals. We had to make some sacrifices. I pray that she’ll understand we’re doing this for her because we love her.”
The couple are continuing to apply for visas, hoping that recent pay rises and their combined salary will be enough to gain permission to bring their daughter back to Qatar.
Family visa rules
Complicating matters for some expats is a long waiting period before they can bring their families to Qatar. Employees of private companies here are now required to produce six months’ worth of bank statements to prove their salary, and a recent electricity bill before they can sponsor their families.
These two tests appear to be designed to stop employers from falsifying salary levels to allow their employees to sponsor their children illegally, and to make sure that the applicant is living in accommodation suitable for family life.
Applicants are also asked to provide certified copies of educational certificates, and a letter from their employer stating both their salary and their position.
The Peninsula has reported that some families are being refused visas based on their position in their company, even if their salary meets the required level. However, the government website Hukoomi does not list this among requirements for family visa applicants, so it’s unclear if such a rule exists.
Female expats can also sponsor their families in Qatar, although the rules which allow them to do this have been quietly changed since they were first introduced in 2010.
Currently, only female government employees and those working in “semi-government” groups like Qatar Airways, Al Jazeera and Qatar Foundation who make a minimum of QR10,000 monthly can sponsor their husbands and children.
Are you struggling to sponsor your family? Thoughts?
Credit: Photo for illustrative purposes only by Bar Fabella