The majority of Qatar’s workforce is made up of foreign workers, and getting a visa or work permit for the country is reasonably straightforward.

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) oversees all immigration matters by overseeing the application process and issuing the necessary permits. Hukoomi, the government’s ePortal, facilitates visa applications by providing a platform for registering with the MOI. Expats can simply track their applications by entering their country of citizenship, application number and passport details.

That said, waiting periods may be an inconvenience, especially during Ramadan, but typically take about six weeks. Many suggest that it’s best for visa applications to be submitted well before or just after this time. In any event, we strongly recommend checking the MOI website regularly and contacting the nearest embassy and consulate for support.

Tourist visas for Qatar

Citizens from many countries must apply for a visa in advance, and this can be done by contacting the nearest embassy directly and doing the application process online.

Note that not all citizens need to apply beforehand. Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) do not need to apply for a visa to visit Qatar. Expats from 80 other countries, including the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain and Germany, can also enter without a visa. Foreign nationals must check if their country of citizenship is included on this list on the MOI website.

Upon arrival, these visas are obtained at the port of entry, but visitors can also receive theirs online before travelling.

Visitors on tourist visas must ensure that their passports are valid for at least six months after the date of arrival, and they must show an itinerary of travel plans, including accommodation details and a return ticket.

These visas are generally valid for one to three months.

Sponsored tourist visas

Several types of tourist visas are available, some of which can be organised through authorised hotels, embassies and employers, as well as Qatar Airways. For more on this process, expats should contact these bodies and organisations directly.

Note that these visas cannot be extended and are only valid for one month.

Joint tourist visas

Joint tourist visas allow free travel between Qatar and Oman. Expats may apply for these before travelling but can also obtain them upon arrival. These Qatar/Oman visas are valid for one month and can be renewed for another 30 days.

Transit visas

Travellers transiting through Qatar do not require a visa if they wish to leave the airport and explore a bit before continuing their journey, departing within 24 hours. Passengers with layovers between 5 and 96 hours on Qatar Airways are eligible for free transit visas.

Business visas for Qatar

Expats coming to the country for temporary work need a business visa for Qatar. The approved local company receiving the overseas visitor often takes responsibility for the process and will need to provide a letter of invitation.

Expats planning to carry out contractual work can receive this business visa, valid for only three months. Those looking to work in Qatar for extended periods will require a work and residence permit.

72-hour business visas

Applicants who will be in Qatar for three days or less may opt for the 72-hour business visa, generally issued on arrival. These individuals must show proof of their business and carry the necessary documents, like confirmation of accommodation, vaccination certificates and a valid credit card.

Investor visas

Applicants investing or invested in business ventures in Qatar can apply for an investor visa. Expats require documents on property ownership (or a detailed business plan and proof of investment funds), a certificate showing good behaviour and an authorised medical certificate.

Investor visas in Qatar offer long-term residency without employer sponsorship and are designed for individuals looking to invest significant capital in the country to contribute to its economic growth.

Visit visas for Qatar

GCC residents and family members can apply for short-term visas to visit Qatar.

GCC resident visit visas

On arrival, residents of GCC countries are allowed entry to Qatar for stays of one month, renewable for a further three months. The profession on their residence card needs to be on a list of 200+ approved professions, and they will need to provide evidence of a ticket home.

Family visit visas

Expats moving to Qatar for work can bring their family over on family visit visas. These visas are valid for one month and can be extended to six months for immediate relatives (spouse and children) and three months for other family members. When applying for extensions, applicants require a medical check-up.

Residence visas for Qatar

To stay in Qatar, expats can enter on the relevant visa and apply for a working residence permit after they arrive. Residence permits are only granted to applicants sponsored by a company, those with a family member in the country who earns more than the minimum threshold, or those investing in property. Expats must stay in Qatar while their entry visa is converted to a residence permit.

Family residence visas

Expats working in Qatar who want their family to stay with them during their time in the emirate can sponsor their residence visa. The sponsoring resident generally needs a work history of at least six months, a monthly income of more than QAR 10,000 (or QAR 6,000 if accommodation is employer-provided), a valid Qatar ID, and a residence visa.

Education residence visas

Study visas can be obtained free of charge. Students require proof of acceptance to an approved educational institution, and visas are valid for the duration of the course in question.

Real estate visas

Expats interested in buying property and owning real estate in Qatar must apply for this visa through the MOI. Expats usually require a valid passport, a letter from a relevant real estate agent regarding property investment and purchase, a certificate of good conduct and a medical check-up.

Return visas

Expats in Qatar must note that, just as they require an entry visa for their initial visit, they likely need a return visa when they leave and return to the country. This includes citizens with valid residency who have been out of Qatar for more than six months and are returning.

Exit permits in Qatar

The exit permit system in Qatar was established to prevent migrant workers from leaving the country without their employer's knowledge. The process to abolish this was started in 2018, and as of 2020, foreign workers don't need exit permits to leave the country as long as they're not in the armed forces. Domestic workers still need to give their employers three days' notice before leaving the country.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

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