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Monday, October 18, 2021

Illegal residents to be granted three-month amnesty to leave Qatar

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Authorities are giving residents in Qatar living here illegally a three-month grace period to exit the country without “legal consequences.”

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) said these people should report to the Search & Follow Up department between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1 of this year. Hours are 2pm to 8pm, Sunday to Thursday.

The amnesty applies to those in violation of Law No. 4 of 2009 Regulating the Entry, Exit, Residence and Sponsorship of Expatriates.

According to the Peninsula, it’s the first grace period that Qatar has announced in over a decade.

Currently, is illegal for expats to work in Qatar without a visa. And those who wish to switch jobs must get approval from their current employer.

Sometimes, a person who quits his/her job – usually domestic workers who leave their sponsor’s home – can be classified as “runaway” or “absconding” employees.

They are subject to arrest and deportation, and anyone who hires them without proper documentation faces fines and jail time.

Changes

The new grace period expires shortly before amendments to the country’s kafala sponsorship law are due to take effect in mid-December.

The rules were approved by the Emir in October 2015. They should make it easier for some expats to leave the country or change jobs.

One of the big differences is that expats will apply to the government – rather than their sponsor – for an exit permit to leave the country.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Sponsors will have an opportunity to object to an employee leaving, but applicants will be able to appeal a decision to refuse an exit permit.

Similarly, expats who finish fixed contracts will now need the permission of the government – rather than consent from their sponsor, as is the case now – to take up another job.

The changes have gotten a mixed reception here and abroad.

Some lauded the new rules as a sign of progress. But others have said they don’t go far enough to ensure people’s human rights.

Thoughts?

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