Supplying Qatar Events: Immigration Focus

The visa requirements for companies providing goods and services to Qatar are outlined for MEI readers by Matthew Amoils, director, ASG Immigration.

In nine years time, Qatar is set to host the biggest football show on earth, the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is the biggest sporting event scheduled to take place in Qatar to date. However, the oil and gas rich country has for years been reinvesting its natural resource derived wealth into the creation of a knowledge based economy. Qatar is now home to El Jazeera and is seen as a liberal bastion within the Middle East and on the World stage. There has been heavy investment in sport and tourism and in addition to international visitors coming to watch these major events, there are many visitors arriving for the purpose of temporarily supplying goods or services to the spectators, event participants, journalists and others.

Qatar’s Visa Requirements

The requirement to obtain a visit visa before travelling to Qatar depends on a person’s nationality. Visitors from most Western nations can apply for and obtain visas upon arrival, as long as they are travelling by Qatar Airways. There is a defined list of non visa nationals* eligible for tourist visas on arrival. These tourist visas are usually valid for 14 days and can be renewed for a further 14 days. There are also special rules in place for citizens of the Gulf Cooperation CouncilGCC’ States. Citizens of countries not part of the GCC or listed below must usually apply for a tourist visa from their local Qatar Embassy or Consulate in advance of their travel.

Conducting business is not permissible when entering Qatar on a tourist or visit visa. If you intend to conduct business for example making sales visits or negotiating potential deals you should apply for a Business Visit visa. This application must be filed in advance of travel. The application is filed with the local Qatar Embassy or Consulate and requires the completion of a prescribed form, payment of a fee and various support documents such as two passport photographs, the applicant’s CV, qualifications or credentials and a supporting letter from their employer or Host Company.

It is also not permissible to work in Qatar if you are entering as a tourist or business visitor. This is regardless of whether or not the work is paid or unpaid. Foreign nationals who intend on taking employment in Qatar will require sponsorship from the local employer or hosting company. Work visas are issued to employees of private entities, companies, and individual sponsorships, which need to be approved by Ministry of Interior. The application must be made by the employer company to the Ministry from within Qatar. Workers either on a short or long term contract who will be remunerated by a Qatar entity must apply for a work visa prior to travel. There is no separate visit visa category for journalists, film crew and photographers or news correspondents. Qatar is fairly liberal in this regard and as the home a Middle Eastern free press, foreign news correspondents are generally allowed permission to enter. They are on the list of 188 professions or occupations. Citizens from the GCC States can apply for work permission on arrival as long as they have a GCC residence permit that is valid for longer than six months and their occupations is one of the official 188 listed professions or occupations.

2022 is still a long way off so Qatar has not announced any special visa arrangements that can be discussed in this article. People attending events in Qatar at the moment are subject to the tourist or business visit visa requirements as outlined above. For businesses interested in sending employees to work in Qatar facilitation will probably be required from a local partner. Individuals or employees supplying goods or services to bodies closely related to the running of an event, for example directly supplying services to an event organising body, will require facilitation from a local Sponsor.

Although Qatar is very much open for business, companies wishing to supply a service or goods at a major event in Qatar who are not closely associated with an organising or government body and do not have a Qatar subsidiary, affiliate or representative office are well advised to plan their immigration arrangements well in advance.

* The United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece , Finland, Spain, Monaco, the Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Lichtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea.

This article is not intended to be a complete statement of the law relating to the subject matter. Advice should always be taken on specific matters and no responsibility can be accepted by ASG Immigration Limited for action taken based on the content of this article.

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