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New residency law in force from Dec 14, 2016

Posted: 14.12.2015

The Law No. 21 of 2015 regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates will come in force on December 14, 2016, Al Sharq reports. 

The law was published in the official gazette (Issue No. 29) on December 13, said the daily. It is to be implemented one year after the date of publication in the official gazette, the daily added.

Issued on October 27, the law has replaced the Kafala (sponsorship) system with a contract-based system and cancelled the exit permit system. 

It has also removed the two-year period required for an expatriate worker to return to the country to take up a new job, after his departure. As per the new law, the worker can return to the country two or three days after his departure if he gets a new contract and fulfils entry visa requirements and if there is no court verdict against him.

Brig Mohammed Ahmed Al Atiq, Assistant Director General, Department of Boarder Passports and Expatriates Affairs at the Ministry of Interior, told a press conference at the Ministry of Labour yesterday that the Kafala system will end with implementation of the new law.

There will be a job contract to be signed by every expatriate worker with his employer which will rule the relation between the two sides. Both sides are obliged to respect the contract period, whether it be two or five years. 

An exit permit from the sponsor will no more be required for an expatriate worker to leave the country. He only needs to inform the employer that he will be leaving, the daily quoted the official as saying.

The Ministry of Interior earlier explained that to leave the country, an employee needs to apply its departments concerned through Metrash 2 and inform his employer three days in advance.

The employer has no right to stop the worker from leaving the country and in case of any objection from the employer, both sides can approach the grievances committee to be set up under the law to look into such complaints.

The law has stipulated that in case of an emergency, the worker can leave immediately after notifying the employer and by approval of the authorities concerned. The new law has raised the fine on employers for keeping the passports of expatriate employees from QR10,000 to QR25,000 for each passport.

With implementation of the new law, there will be a new contract for every employer based on the new system. 

The contract will be different from the one based on the Kafala system. However, the law will not be applicable to contracts signed before its implementation.

The law also allows expatriate workers to change jobs subject to conditions. 

Expatriate workers with fixed job contracts can change their work and sign new contracts if they wish so at the end of the contract period. For this they don’t need approval from their current employer. However, an approval is needed from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. If the job contract is open-ended, a worker can change job after five years with approval from both ministries.

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