Those entering the country via Qatar Airways may be able to receive a 14-day tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. This applies to tourists from over 33 countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, and Iceland. However, for most expats moving to Qatar a tourist visa is not sufficient. Additionally, changes to visa regulations can occur on short notice. Make sure to always check with your airline and/or embassy for up-to-date visa information.
Expats who visit Qatar for meetings or to set up a business can enter the country on a business visa. A Qatari company should organize this visa, which is valid for two weeks and may be extended for another two weeks.
However, most expats do not travel to Qatar for short visits but in order to live and work there. Before entering the country, they may need to get police clearance from their home country, also referred to as “Certificate of Good Conduct”. The employer in Qatar then arranges for their work visa and residence permit to be processed. Before a visa is approved it has to be reviewed by the Ministry of Interior.
In Qatar, foreign workers can sponsor their family as soon as their work visa and residence permit are in place. As this process can take some time, many expats go ahead and arrange for their family to follow once everything has been organized.
To apply for their family’s visas, expats have to visit the Expatriate Affairs and Unified Services Centers. They have to turn in their completed application form together with all relevant documents:
Spouses and children can stay in Qatar for up to six months on this visit visa. However, other relatives may stay for up to three months. Please remember that this visa is only valid for an initial period of one month and must be renewed afterwards.
All expats need an exit visa before leaving Qatar. They need the permission of the sponsor, and sometimes even an additional guarantor agreeing to repay all of the applicant’s debt if necessary.
The Qatari government offers an online service to submit all application forms. However, applicants may also complete their forms the old-fashioned way. This may be helpful for expats who are not fluent in Arabic. As the application should be in Arabic, those expats may want to find a translation service.
Women and children can be sponsored by their husband or father and do not require an exit visa. The government agency responsible for this kind of visa is the Al Gharaffa Immigration Department. Several visa application forms are also available for download from the Ministry of Interior.
Expats should use the first weeks of their stay to get their medical checkup. It usually includes a blood test and a chest x-ray. In the end, fingerprints are taken, and the applicant has to pay a fee. The medical checkup is supposed to ensure the patient does not have any communicable diseases and is able to do the work they have been assigned. For this checkup, expats must visit the Doha Clinic on Al Mirquab Al Jadeed Street.
While most expats undergo the checkup after arriving in Qatar, some have to get their medical clearance before entering the country. This applies only to expats from certain countries, such as Saudi Arabia or Oman.
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