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Qatar abolishes exit permit for most migrants

On September 10, 2018

The majority of migrant workers in Qatar no longer need permission from their employers to leave Qatar, as per a new law enacted on September 4, 2018.

Law No. 13 of 2018 amends Law No 15 of 2015, the ‘landmark’ reforms once hailed as the end of the Kafala system. Qatar initially announced the abolishment of the exit permit in 2015, but quickly reinstated the requirement. The Expat Exit Grievance Committee was instead established to enable migrants to appeal their employer’s rejection of their exit request.


Employers may request that certain named employees – up to 5% of their total employees – obtain their permission before exit. Their request must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Administrative Development and Social Affairs (MADSLA).

The new law only applies to migrant workers covered under the labour law, meaning that domestic workers – who are governed by a separate law – still require permission from their employers to leave the country.

The Expat Exit Grievance Committee will remain in place to accept complaints from workers prevented from leaving the country for any reason.

Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the GCC  to require exit permits for all migrant workers.

Other Reforms

Qatar announced two more significant reforms related to its residency regulations.

Law No. 11. 2018 is the region’s first asylum law, enabling individuals to apply for political asylum.

Law No. 10 of 2018 states that up 100 expatriates may be granted permanent residence in Qatar. Previously, no official access to permanent residency existed, though a very limited number of ‘high-status’ migrants have obtained it.