Improvements for guest workers in Qatar

After more than a year of debate, Qatar has adopted changes to its controversial kafala sponsorship system, which will make it easier for some to switch jobs and also to leave the country.

The main reforms is that there will be a new system to appeal refused exit permits.

Additionally, expats who finish fixed contracts will no longer need their sponsor’s approval to take up another job.

Previously, one had to wait two years to work in Qatar again if an employer refused to grant a no objection certificate to change jobs.

However, the reforms won’t come into effect for at least another year, according to state news agency QNA, which reported:

“HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on Tuesday issued Law No. 21 of 2015 on the regulation of the entry and exit of expatriates and their residency.

All concerned authorities, each in their capacity, are to implement the law and it will be applicable one year after its date of publication in the official gazette.”

The law comes more than a year after authorities promised reforms to the system, which has been widely criticized by human rights organizations for enabling the abuse of expats in Qatar at the hands of unscrupulous sponsors.

Foreign residents require their sponsor’s permission to obtain bank loans, a driver’s license and – most controversially – exit Qatar.