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Monday, March 8, 2021

Qatar’s new exit permit grievance panel gets 500 complaints in a month

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Expats seek help with exit permit problems.

Some 500 Qatar residents have sought help from the government after their employers denied them permission to leave the country over the past month.

The country’s Ministry of Interior set up an Exit Permit Grievance Committee in mid-December after new labor reforms took effect.

Since then, it has met almost a dozen times and resolved some 321 cases. That’s about 64 percent of the petitions.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a statement, the MOI said that 20 exit permits were issued immediately. And another 296 were granted after “friendly coordination” with employers.

But the MOI added that 177 applications had issues that were beyond the scope of the committee.

This included petitions filed by expats who quit their jobs by fleeing their employers (labeled “absconders” under the law) and people who face travel bans.

Flawed system

The government noted that once it got involved, employers were usually willing to grant the exit permits fairly quickly.

However, Qatar has come under fire from rights groups over the past month for not removing its exit permit requirement in the first place.

This was not initially the plan.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

When it was signed by the Emir, Law No. 21 of 2015 on the entry, exit, and residence of expatriates stated that an automated system would be set up under the MOI to grant “leave certificates” for expats.

However, an amendment to the law was approved this month to keep control of exit permits under one’s employer.

Any expats who have trouble leaving the country can appeal to the new Exit Permit Grievance Committee.

This can be done by visiting a government services complex or a police station.

The committee must respond to requests for an exit permit within 72 hours of a complaint being lodged, although it may be sooner, especially in emergency situations.

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