Family residence permits: A frustration-ridden path for many, in Qatar
Riadh D, a Syrian national, has been working in Qatar for the past few years. About seven weeks ago he applied for a residence permit – the second time in the last year – to bring his wife to Doha. There has been no response about his application. He has followed up a number of times, and he continues to wait, with fear that it might be turned down once again.
This story of uncertainty is not just Riadh’s, but also that of many other expatriates, mainly those hailing from South Asia and the Arab region.
The application procedure for a residence permit is relatively straightforward and the employer or sponsor is usually responsible for it. Employed individuals with a minimum salary of QR10,000 (according to the Ministry of Interior) can apply for a residence permit for their immediate dependents on officially completing six months of employment in Qatar.
V. Ram, an Indian passport holder, moved to Qatar from Oman in 2012. He applied for a residence permit to relocate his family to Qatar and went through the ordeal of receiving three rejections in a row.
“I was finally able to move my family to Qatar recently after a tedious application process. The worst part of the entire process is that we never received any explanations for why the applications were rejected; it was really frustrating,” says Ram.
Brhan A., has lived in Qatar for over three years, and he struggled to acquire a residence visa for his wife and newborn. “I wanted to sponsor my wife for a residence permit, but my application was rejected the first time. It was subsequently rejected another five times before it was finally approved. I had to follow up regularly, but there’s never a clear justification from the immigration officials about rejections,” he says.
To apply for a family residence permit, the Ministry of Interior requires the following from applicants: wedding or birth certificates, passports of all family members, a house tenancy contract, electricity and water invoice, attested salary certificate from the employer and no-objection certificate from the employer and a bank statement for the six months prior to application.
The pre-requisites for a residence permit are more than just documents though. Finding suitable rental accommodation and paying for utilities are no mean feats. Despite all of this, many people yet face long waits or unjustified rejections from the Ministry of Interior.
“Each time I applied, I verified my documentation with various private PR professionals (mandoops). They found nothing wrong with my documents or application, so there was certainly no technical reason for rejection,” Ram explains.
The issue of acquiring a residence permit is one that is widely discussed amongst Qatar residents on online forums as well, especially since so many of them face similar challenges during the application process.
According to the Ministry of Interior, residence permits are usually granted within six weeks. However, many people on these forums report facing waits of longer than six weeks without any news on the status of their applications.
Most applicants rely on official information to plan their lives for the months following the applications, which would include the arduous task of finding a school for their children. Not to mention the financial implications, as they have also invested in family housing, that’s a prerequisite to get a family residence visa.
Correction: The minimum salary requirement for an employed individual to sponsor his family for a residence visa is QR10000, not QR7000.
Photo Courtesy: Gautham Krishna