Residence Permit Vs. Citizenship in Qatar
Expats who choose to stay in Qatar in the long term require a residence permit. In getting their residence permit, they can stay and work here, while accessing a range of important services. With this residence permit, they are able to sign a rental accommodation agreement, apply for a loan, apply for a Qatari driving license, buy a car, open a bank account, and apply for a Hamad medical card.
For those with a business in Qatar, their residence permit could potentially open up new business opportunities, allowing them to create a business plan that spans a longer term. Aside from that, expats with a residence permit, who meet the family residence requirements, can sponsor family members to come to Qatar on a family visa, making their stay more rewarding.
To find out more about residence permits, check out our earlier post on the topic, Residence Permits in Qatar: All You Need To Know.
What about citizenship then? Unlike certain other countries that provide a path to citizenship for overseas residents who decide to settle there, Qatar does not offer citizenship to those born outside the State. However, permanent residency is now an option to non-Qataris who choose to settle in Qatar, as long as they meet specified requirements.
What is permanent residency in Qatar?
Permanent residency could be thought of as an alternative to citizenship, as it allows non-Qataris to stay in Qatar permanently while accessing many privileges not available to those who are here on a residence permit.
The law regarding permanent residence is Law No. 10 of the year 2018, issued by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on 4 Sept. 2018. It was created to allow non-Qataris to obtain permanent residency in the State of Qatar as long as they meet certain conditions in accordance with the provisions of this law.
Alongside the creation of this new law, an authority was established to examine applications for permanent residence permits, called the Permanent Residence Card Granting Committee, at the Ministry of the Interior.
This is a big step for Qatar, as it is now one of the few countries in the Middle East that allows expats to settle permanently. In fact, according to the Ministry of Interior site, it is the “first of its kind in the Gulf and Arab region”.
What does permanent residency offer?
In a broad sense, the introduction of permanent residency could be said to help strengthen Qatar economically, socially, and politically, while helping to promote positive discussion and a sense of belonging for expats who choose to stay here.
But what does it offer directly to those who apply? According to the provisions of Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, the law identifies a number of privileges to each Permanent Residency Card holder.
- Permanent Residency Card holders may enter and exit the State, without the need to obtain permission or authorisation.
- Permanent Residency Card holders can access treatment and education in government institutions within the State in accordance with the conditions and controls issued by a decision of the Council of Ministers.
- The spouse and any children (aged under 18) of the Permanent Residence Card holder can benefit from the same privileges as the Card holder in regards to residence, health and education.
- With permanent residency, the Card holder may invest in the activities of the sectors of the national economy (which shall be determined by a decision of the Council of Ministers) without a Qatari partner, provided that the company is established in accordance with the provisions of the law governing the commercial companies.
- Permanent Residency Card holders may own real estate for housing and investment in the areas specified, in accordance with the conditions and controls to be determined by a decision of the Council of Ministers
What conditions must applicants meet?
In order to obtain permanent residency, you must meet the following conditions:
- If you were born outside of Qatar, you must have completed 20 years in Qatar on a legal ordinary residency permit. If you were born in Qatar, you must have completed 10 years in Qatar. This must be completed prior to application, and must be consecutive, without any breaks.
- You must have sufficient income to cover the expenses of both yourself and your family. (A cabinet decision will specify the applicant’s minimum income along with exceptional cases.)
- You must have a good conduct and reputation. That means you should not have any previous convictions of any dishonourable offence unless you have been rehabilitated in accordance with Qatar’s law.
- You must have sufficient knowledge of the Arabic language.
Are there any exceptions?
There are exceptions to this that allow certain persons access to permanent residency without meeting the above rules and regulations. Article 2 details exceptions from the stipulations of Article 1, which allow non-Qataris in the following categories to be approved to have permanent residency:
- The children of a Qatari woman married to a non-Qatari man.
- The non-Qatari husband of a Qatari woman.
- The non-Qatari wife of a Qatari man.
- The children of Qataris who acquired citizenship.
- Individuals who have done great services to the country.
- Individuals with special capabilities needed by the country.
According to the new law, only 100 applicants will be selected each year for permanent residency. However, on the Ministry of Interior’s request, HH the Amir may, at his discretion, approve more applicants.
If you would like to check your eligibility to apply for permanent residency, click here.
How do you apply for permanent residency?
If you are eligible for permanent residency, you can submit your application through the Electronic Services Portal of the Ministry of Interior’s website. If you meet the requirements, you will be contacted via SMS and asked to submit the required documents. You will also pay a fee of QR 3,000 (approximately US$825).
Once the application and all submitted documentation is approved, you can collect your Permanent Residence Card, for which you must pay a final fee of QR 3,000.
Providing local business partnership and essential advice on business setup in Qatar, Fusion can offer expert guidance on processes such as residence permit and permanent residency applications and so much more. To find out how Fusion could help you, contact us today.