There are 3 main ways for an individual to enter Qatar:
On arrival, tourist or visit visas
Nationals of 33 countries can currently enter Qatar on a single entry on- arrival visa issued for a fee at the Hamad International Airport. GCC nationals or holders of certain GCC residence permits can also enter on an on arrival basis. The visas are issued for 30 days and can be extended for a further 30 days at the discretion of the immigration authorities. On the expiry of the initial or extended 30 day period an individual must leave Qatar but can then re-enter (same day if necessary) and be issued with a new visa. Nationals from outside the 33 countries must either arrange for a tourist visa through a Qatar based hotel where they must remain during their stay in Qatar, or a visit visa through the Qatari Embassy responsible for their relevant jurisdiction. Visit visas may be applied for and obtained before entering Qatar. Details may be found on the Qatar Embassy website.
Business visas must generally be applied for in advance of an individual entering Qatar. There is a 72 hour business visa which can be issued on arrival at Hamad International Airport subject to the provision of appropriate documentation and the payment of a fee; this is rarely used. A Qatari entity approved to issue business visas in Qatar, e.g. a wholly owned Qatari entity or a foreign entity working in association with the Qatar Government, etc may issue a business visa.
Alternatively the Qatari Embassy responsible for the individual’s relevant jurisdiction may issue a business visa. A letter of support from a Qatari national or registered entity must be submitted in support of the application. Visas are normally issued for one month, but can be extended by the immigration authorities by discretion. Visas may also be multi entry. Details in relation to such applications may be found on the Qatar Embassy website.
Work permits may only be applied for by an individual or entity registered with the Qatari immigration and employment authorities. . Employment and immigration are interlinked in Qatar. Once a Qatari entity has been issued with a computer/immigration card it may register with the Labour Department and submit block visa allocation applications to bring individuals into Qatar. A block visa application should state the gender, nationality and job title of the workers a Qatari entity wants to employ.
Work in Qatar
Holders of on-arrival, tourist or visit visas may not work in Qatar. With some exceptions, business visas allow the holders to represent themselves or their companies, but not to work. ONLY a holder of a valid work permit may work lawfully in Qatar.
Holders of residence permits may work but ONLY for their employer. Contract working is not permitted. Individuals holding family residencies must apply for, and be issued with, work permits, often called labour cards, to work, subject to some exceptions, e.g. the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC). Part time workers can work, subject to the permission of their employer, for another Qatari national or an entity registered to undertake business in Qatar.
Exit from Qatar
Individuals entering Qatar other than on an on-arrival, tourist or visit visa MUST obtain an exit permit from their Qatari employer in order to leave. All exit permits are now multi-exit, free of charge and can be issued for between one and 365 days. Penalties are levied for over-stays.
Under the Immigration Law, a worker has the right to exit the country for any reason (e.g. annual leave, for an emergency, before the expiry of the employment contract or for any other reason) provided that the employer is notified pursuant to the terms of the employment contract. Where an employer or the authorities disapprove of the departure or exit, the worker can refer the matter to the expatriates' exit grievances committee which will decide on any appeal made to it within three days.
Additional Information on Visas
Visitors from countries for which visa requirements have not been lifted can apply for a tourist visa online (https://portal.moi.gov.qa/qatarvisas) for QR100.
Multi-entry tourist and business visas are applied for through a Qatari embassy or consulate.
Applications to extend a 30-day tourist visa for another 30 days can be made at the Ministry of Interior at Hamad International Airport.
Fines for overstaying your visa are high.
Every visitor to Qatar, except those from GCC countries, must hold passports valid for six months after the time of entry and have a confirmed onward ticket. GCC citizens may use their ID cards to enter. People from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are currently banned from travelling to Qatar by their governments.
No alcohol, narcotics, pornographic materials or pork-related products may be brought in through customs. Goods originating in Israel may also pose problems.