Qatar first Gulf nation to grant permanent residency to expats

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One hundred permanent residencies each year to be given to children of Qatari mothers and skilled expatriates.

Qatar will soon be the first Arab Gulf nation to allow some of its long-time foreign residents to become permanent residents.

Issuing a new law, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani directed the government on Tuesday to grant permanent residency to 100 expatriates every year. The law also allows most migrant workers to leave the country without an exit visa.

 

The new permanent residency law gives priority to children born to a Qatari mother, as well as foreign nationals who have lived in the country for more than 20 years and are considered "valuable" for their skills.

About 2.7 million foreign residents live in Qatar.

Under the new law, permanent residents are entitled to the same social security as Qatar's citizens, including free healthcare and education in government schools. They will also be given priority in government jobs.

The law, consisting of 13 articles, is effective and is to be published in the official gazette and the Minister of Interior will issue decisions and executive regulations needed for the implementation of the law.

A permanent committee called “Committee for Granting Permanent Residency Permit” will be set up at the Ministry of Interior to look into the application as per the provisions of this law.

According to the law, the expatriates in Qatar could obtain permanent residency permit (PRP) of Qatar under certain rules and conditions. For obtaining PRP, any expatriate in Qatar should complete 20 years in the country on a legal ordinary residency permit if he/she is born abroad and 10 years for those expatriates who are born in Qatar. The residency duration should be uninterrupted and completed prior to the date of application.

Under the law, the continuation of the residency should not be interrupted by staying outside Qatar for more than 60 days in a year and in all cases the duration of stay out of the country will be deducted from the balance of the residency duration in Qatar.

If the applicant leaves Qatar after applying for permanent residency permit for more than six months in a row, the Minister of Interior has right to disqualify his previous residency duration in the country.

The applicant should have enough income to cover expenditures of him and his family. A cabinet decision will specify the minimum income of the applicant and exceptional cases. The applicant should enjoy good conduct and reputation and he/she not have previously been convicted of a dishonourable offence, unless he/she has been rehabilitated in accordance with the law.

The applicant should have enough knowledge of Arabic language. With exemption from the provision of article the law stipulates that certain categories of expatriates like children of Qatari women married with non-Qataris, non-Qatari husband of Qatari woman, expatriate wife of Qatari citizen, children of Qatari with naturalization could obtain the PRP. As well people with special capabilities whose services are needed for the State.

The permanent committee called “Committee for Granting Permanent Residency Permit” will submit its recommendations to the Minister of Interior who will take appropriate decision about the applications.

The Minister of Interior will grant ID card called “Permanent Residency Permit” to the eligible candidate. According to the Law, Permanent Residency Permit should not be given to more than 100 people in a year.

It is allowed to increase the number of issuance of PRP after approval from H H the Amir upon the recommendation of the Minister of Interior which will be different in number for each year. Taking into consideration the provisions of the Law No. 21 of 2015, the holder of PRP does not require any permission for leaving the country and coming back. PRP holder enjoys health services in public hospitals and education in government institutions as per the term and conditions to be issued by the a Cabinet decision. The spouse of PRP holder and his children up to 18 years will enjoy same privileges of the holder in residency, health and education as per the provisions of this law.

The Minister of Interior is allowed to exclude the male children of PRP holders who could not complete their university qualification till 25 year and unmarried female children from the age restriction.

PRP holders can invest in the activities of national economic sectors which will be specified by a Cabinet decision without a Qatari partner to establish a company as per the provisions of the law for regulating commercial companies. PRP holder can own residential properties and invest in Al Manatiq as per the rules and regulations to be specified by a Cabinet decision.

A decision will be issued by the Minister of Interior to specify the fees for applying for PRP, granting PRP ID, and validity.

The Minister of Interior can cancel PRP and withdraw ID from the holder if he failed in meeting the terms and conditions stipulated in the Article No. 1 of clauses No. 3 of this law or in public interest. Minister of Interior will issue necessary decisions to implement the provisions of this law. All authorities concerned should implement this law and to be published in the official gazette. The law includes 13 articles.

'Gesture of appreciation'

As permanent residents, foreign expatriates investing in Qatar will no longer be required to have a Qatari citizen as their partners. The new law also allows them to own real estate in the country.

Once the new law is implemented, permanent residents will be able to enter and leave the country without permission from their employers, as is required for other residents.

The landmark law also allows expatriates serving in the Qatari armed forces to apply for permanent residency.

A Sudanese citizen, serving in the Qatari army for decades, told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity that he received an application to become a permanent resident.

This law would serve as a gesture of appreciation to many of our Arab brothers who have lived among us for decades and made an honorable stand supporting Qatar against the siege by the neighbouring countries

Vision 2030

Analysts say the new law is part of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani's ambitious Vision 2030, which aims to create a sustainable and modern Qatar in the next 10 years.

"This law would serve as a gesture of appreciation to many of our Arab brothers who have lived among us for decades and made an honourable stand, supporting Qatar against the siege by the neighbouring countries," Abdallah al-Athbah, chief editor of Qatari newspaper Al Arab, told Al Jazeera.

In June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding "terrorism" and fomenting regional instability - allegations Doha denies.

Athbah said the new law is a "first step" in Qatar's "investment in human capital", which will benefit the state in vital areas such as medicine, science and engineering.

"The pioneering new law is part of a national strategy of modernisation and sustained development," a senior Qatari official, who declined to be identified, told Al Jazeera.

On plans to grant just 100 permanent residencies a year, Athbah said the move will allow the government to evaluate its policy and revise it as needed in the years to come.

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world with an average income of nearly $124,000 per year, a figure that surpasses many Western countries, including the United States.



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