From May 2015, it should be noted that as per the new immigration regulation in Qatari Law, the following visas may not be converted in-country to Work Visas:
This will mean that employees and visitors who are already present in Qatar must leave the country to apply for a Work Visa before re-entering to commence their employment.
There are essentially 2 ways to approach this change in process:
The employee can leave Qatar and then apply for a Work Visa at a Qatari consulate or embassy abroad. Once the Visa has been issued, they can return to Qatar to start their employment with the newly-issued Work Visa
Alternatively, while the employee is in Qatar, he can apply for the Work Visa with an NOC (No Objections Certificate document) processed by the employer. Once the visa is issued, the employee would need to exit the country and re-enter using the new Work Visa.
The following types of applications can still be made in-country:
Those who are already in the country under a Work Visa are permitted to switch sponsors in order to work for another employer
Those who initially enter on an Arrival Visa are permitted to switch to a Family Visit Visa or a Family Residence Permit.
This is in fact not an unusual policy and many other countries across the world require foreign nationals to exit the country in order to apply for their first Work Visa. In Qatar, this change will mean additional processing times and costs. Presumably, this new policy is intended to more accurately monitor the number of foreign workers present in the country.
Should you need any information regarding Qatar immigration, please contact us.