Qatar tweaks exit visa policy for expatriate workers

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Construction workers from India and Bangladesh near the Kahlifa Stadium, Doha, Qatar, 11 January 2017. PHOTO/COURTESY: Fanack.com

Qatar has quashed its much debated exit visa system policy which required expatriate workers to get approval from their employers before exiting the country.

The initial policy had been labeled as modern day slavery by many but following public outcry; mostly from foreign workers and human rights activists, the Qatari government promised to revise the reforms in September 2018 and a statement made by government officials on Sunday confirmed that the revised policy had already taken effect.

“Law No. 13 of 2018 that regulates the entry, exit and residency of expatriates is being implemented starting today; Sunday, October 28,” Qatar’s Interior Ministry said in a tweet.

According to the Qatar government, foreign employees are free to move out of the country temporarily or permanently. However, the new reform still gives employers in the country the option of submitting a list of employees to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs who cannot leave the country without getting consent from their bosses.

This will however apply to only 5 per cent of the Qatari foreign work force who hold high end positions in firms across the Middle Eastern country.

Similarly, the Qatari government reiterated that any worker denied exit from the country can table their complaint to the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee where it will be addressed within three working days.

The new reforms have been positively received across the globe and in Kenya as well.

“It is a welcome development that will put an end to a heinous and outmoded system. We welcome the development and hope that Qatar’s enlightened leadership will resonate across the Middle East where similar systems that deny basic human rights and freedoms are still in play,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau is quoted as saying by a local daily.

Qatar has been in the limelight in recent years for having sub-standard policies that protect the interests of foreign workers in the country. Most workers who have gone to the Middle Eastern Country in search of greener pastures have only come back with harrowing tales of mistreatment, harassment and discrimination that borders on slavery.

At the moment, Qatar is currently being observed intently by the world as it prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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