The new and much-awaited sponsorship law, issued on Thursday, reveals little or no change to the current regulations regarding expatriates working in Qatar.
According to the new law, the freedom of movement of non-Qataris would still be restricted through the mandatory exit permits.
However, the law makes it illegal for sponsors and employers to retain employees’ passports and travel documents once their residence permits have been issued.
According to Article 4, any expatriate once dismissed from his job or quit on his own will not be allowed to re-enter the country before the elapse of two years from the date of his departure.
However, this condition can be waived by the Minister of Interior, or whoever represents him. Also the department (to be designated later) in charge of enforcing the law may exempt some cases from this period based on a written permission from the expatriates’ previous sponsor, according to Article 4.
The new law gives the Minister or whoever represents him the power to transfer sponsorship temporarily if there is a legal dispute between the sponsor and the expatriate worker.

The Minister or whoever represents him may transfer sponsorship of workers who are not covered by Qatar’s labour law (domestic helpers) from one employer to another if arbitrariness is proved on the part of the employer or if the general interest requires that.
The Minister can also approve the sponsorship transfer for workers, covered by the labour law, if the employer is found to be uncompromising, as mentioned in Article 12.
Amongst the few changes made in the new law is that Qatari women married to foreigners will be able to sponsor their husbands and children.
Also, expatriate women who are in the country on a work visa can sponsor their husbands, Article 21 says.
According to Article 14, an expatriate worker whose services are terminated by an employer, for causing gross financial loss to his employer or assuming false identity or nationality or providing false certificate as mentioned in Article 61 of the labour laws, will not be allowed to return to the country before the elapse of four years of the date of his departure.
The Minister has the power to order deportation of any expatriate deemed a threat to the national security or to public order or public health/national economy.
The Minister is also allowed, if needed, to suspend the deportation of an expatriate for 30 days extendable for one similar period.
Article 40 states that any expatriate who has been deported for a legal or administrative reason cannot return to the country without a decision from the Minister.
Those recruited by a company are not allowed to work for any other establishment, while the sponsor is not allowed to employ workers not under his/her sponsorship.
However, authorities can make exceptions by giving authorisation to sponsors for up to six months which is renewable.
The Minister will issue visas and residence permit (RP) for investors in huge projects, real estate owners, and other categories defined by the Council of Ministers.
The duration of this RP is five years, extendable for similar periods, and the holders can leave the country without getting exit permit.
Those coming under this category are allowed to get RP without provision for taking up jobs, for their spouses, sons and parents.
The law is not applicable for heads of foreign states, their family members and companions, heads of diplomatic missions, and attaché members and official delegations, and captains of ships.
Expatriates accused of violation of any law cannot leave the country before paying the fine or before a final acquittal decision from a court of law.
But the individual concerned can be allowed to leave if he/she provides someone who is ready to provide guarantee to pay the fine.
The new Law No 4 of 2009 regulating the entry, exit, residence and sponsorship of foreigners was ratified by the HH Deputy Emir and Heir Apparent HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
The law will be enforced with immediate effect.

By Anwar Elshamy – Gulf Times

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