QATAR: New Sponsorship Law Implemented

January 26, 2017

A new sponsorship law which came into effect at the end of last year (Law No 21 of 2015) will facilitate the changing of jobs and processing of residence permits for certain residents. Law No 1 of 2017 was issued at the beginning of January by His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which amends some of the provisions of Law No 21 of 2015.

Below is a summary of the provisions of the new law and amendments:

Residency Permit Processing Times

Under the new law, foreign nationals moving to Qatar will now have 30 days to process their residency permits, as opposed to the original deadline of seven days.  However, foreign nationals who do not begin the process within this time will be subject to a fine of up to QAR10,000.

Transferring Jobs

Previously, foreign nationals had to request a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their sponsor before they could change employment. Should their sponsor refuse to issue an NOC, the employee would have to wait for a period of two years before they could join a new company.

Under the new law, any foreign national on an open-ended contract will no longer need an NOC from their sponsor once they have completed five years of service.

Foreign nationals on a fixed-term contract will no longer need an NOC from their sponsor once their agreement has finished.

Instead, all foreign nationals will have to seek the permission of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) to change employment. Those on a fixed-term contract are required to give notice 30 days’ notice before their contract ends. Those on an open-ended contract are required to give 30 days’ notice if they have been employed for five years, and 60 days’ notice if they have been employed for more than five years.

Foreign nationals over the age of 60 years are not permitted to seek a job change. The above terms and conditions are meant for the private sector only.

Leaving the Country

Law No 1 of 2017, the amendment issued this month, allows foreign nationals to exit the country for holiday purposes, emergencies, or any other reason, after notifying the person who licensed them to enter Qatar.

The employer is compelled to approve any leave owing to the employee which is stated in the contract between them. The employer is also liable to grant leave to his employee in the event of emergencies.

Should an employer refuse a request to exit the country the employee is entitled to lodge a complaint with the Exit Permit Grievances Committee, which was set up in accordance with Law No 21 of 2015. The Ministry of Interior (MoI) have said that the panel would be able to reach a decision on granting travel permits to foreign nationals within three days of a request being submitted.

Once a request is submitted, the committee will check whether the applicant is facing any criminal charges and whether there is any legitimate reason for why their request for permission to exit was refused.

The employer will then be contacted and asked to provide a reason for the refusal. If there are no serious complaints against the employer, the committee will grant the exit permit.

For further information on the new law or for advice on Qatari immigration in general, please email us at