Qatar follows a sponsor-based system for employment visas which requires all expatriate workers to be under the sponsorship of a local entity (a Qatari citizen or a business registered in Qatar). The sponsor, usually the employer, is responsible for the employee’s visa and legal status.
Even though most expatriates in Qatar legally work under their original sponsor, a few people work for other employers and claim they are under the so-called “Freelance Visa”.
This article will explain the legal side of the Qatar Freelance Visa and its associated problems. We will also explain how you can legally work for another employer without issues.
Freelance Visa Meaning
A freelance visa is a type of visa available in many countries that lets you work independently as a self-employed individual delivering services to different employers. As freelance visa holders are not bound by any employer, they can work independently and find new clients that require their service.
Is Qatar Freelance Visa Legal?
At the beginning of 2022, Qatar’s neighbouring country, UAE introduced freelance visas for various categories to attract global talent to the country. UAE’s “Talent Pass” license for self-employment is available for professionals with unique skills and expertise.
However, like most other GCC countries, Qatar does not have a freelance visa scheme for employment purposes. Anyone who claims to be on a Qatar freelance visa is either ignorant about the law or doesn’t want you to know he is working illegally. There are a couple of ways under which you can temporarily work for another employer, but that doesn’t make it a freelance visa. We will explain them later in this article.
What is Freelance Visa in Qatar?
The visa type popular as a “freelance visa” (also called “free visa“, “azad visa” etc.) in Qatar is a regular employment visa issued legally but handled illegally. What differentiates it from a legal work visa is that the employer (or sponsor) does not offer any job or salary to the sponsored person. Instead, he is only offered a work visa using which he can live in Qatar and work for any other employer illegally.
Here the employee pays the sponsor a lumpsum amount or a monthly fee for this visa. In reality, the labour agreement signed while issuing the visa says that the sponsor should pay the employee through a bank account set up as per the WPS (Wage Protection System).
Qatar Freelance Visa Problems
Many people willingly pay for such a visa even after knowing it is legally not allowed. Often, it allows them the flexibility to work with any employer and makes it easier to get a job. However, there are several problems with working through this system:
Illegal Employment: The first and foremost problem with a freelance visa is that you work illegally and may not even know about that. Selling and buying an employment visa is not allowed in Qatar. If there is a random labour check at your place of work and the labour officers find that your visa is under another sponsor, you may be subject to fines, jail terms and even deportation.
Absconding Sponsor: We often see that the people “selling freelance visas” for money run their business only to sell these visas. Once their visa quota is over, they may close their business and leave the country. Sometimes they would just close one business and open another business under another name.
As someone working on an employment visa, you would always need your sponsor to renew your visa, bring your family or even cancel your visa. After a few years, when it is time for you to renew your Qatar ID or change your current sponsor, you will not be able to find them anywhere.
More Money To Change Sponsor: Another common issue is that if you want to change your job to a better company or another sponsor, your old sponsor may ask you to pay him more. They may also demand money to get a driving license, change profession, sponsor your family, etc. Usually, they demand thousands of Qatari Riyal, thus exploiting you further.
Qatar Freelance Visa Cost
Sadly, many people fall into this system and pay between QR 5,000 to QR 10,000 for a so-called “freelance visa”. Sometimes, they pay a monthly fee between QR 250 to QR 500 to the sponsor.
Most victims are from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They often spend so much money believing they are under this particular “free visa” category that allows them to work anywhere.
Legal Ways To Work For Another Employer in Qatar
All being said, there are some legal ways through which an employee can work for another employer:
1) Working For Labour Supply Companies
Labour supply companies are licensed to supply manpower on a contract basis to other employers. This will be through proper channels and with written agreements. Here, the labour supply company will be responsible for collecting the employees’ salaries and ensuring that they are paid on time.
If “Company A” supplies workers to “Company B”, the workers can work at Company B’s premises without legal issues. However, Company A will still be responsible for its workers’ well-being.
2) Working For Another Employer As Secondee
Another option is to work as a “Secondee” for another employer with formal written permission from the original sponsor and approval of the Ministry of Labour. As per the law, this agreement should not be for more than six months. After the period, the agreement can be renewed for a similar period.
This can also be for a part-time basis other than his original employer’s designated working hours. In all cases, the approval of the Ministry of Labor must be sought for the categories subject to the provisions of the Labor Law.
What Qatar Labour Law Says
According to Article 15 of Qatar Labour Law (Law no. 4 of 2009):
“No natural or juristic person may allow expatriates recruited as employees to work for any other entities, nor may they employ staff who is not thus sponsored. The competent authority may, exceptionally, allow the sponsor to second its Expatriate employees to another employer for no more than six months, with the arrangement renewable for a similar period.”
Punishment For Working Illegally
If a person is found working illegally for another employer, the Ministry of Labour is authorised to take action against both the employer, the sponsor, and the employee. All three may face fines, and the employee may even face deportation.
To work in Qatar, you should be recruited from your home country or locally through proper channels. You can submit your resume to companies in Qatar and attend job fairs or recruitment events. You can even come on a visit visa to Qatar and attend job interviews (please note that it is illegal to work on a visit visa).
You need to undergo the procedures like submitting a resume, attending an interview, signing a labour contract, medical check, background check and issuing an employment visa. Please avoid anyone offering a shortcut to work in Qatar through a “freelance visa”, as that may land you in trouble.
READ NEXT: How Employees Can Change Jobs in Qatar
FAQ On Qatar Freelance Visa
Is freelance visa legal in Qatar?
The so-called freelance visa is not legally allowed in Qatar. As per Qatar Labour Law, an employee can only work temporarily under another employer with written permission from the original employer and approval from the Ministry of Labour.
How can I get freelance visa in Qatar?
Qatar does not have a freelance visa system, as claimed by many people. Those caught working illegally for another employer may face legal actions.
- Qatar Visa on Arrival: Complete Guide
- Qatar Business Visa: Complete Guide
- How To File A Labour Complaint in Qatar
- How To Change Jobs in Qatar
- Qatar Labour Law: Important Things To Know
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30 thoughts on “Qatar Freelance Visa: Important Things To Know (2023)”
My previous employer canceled my QID/RP and my new employer applied for new work visa, but unfortunately it had been refused, as my QID/RP is still valid in MOI system as per our immigration.
I checked in MOI site, it says ID card canceled, Please advise what could be the issue.
Hi Joe, Please contact the Qatar Government Helpline at +974-44069999. They may be able to advise you.
Assalmualekum my name Mohammad suhel I need visa freelance visa company accountant
Hi good afternoon
I just want to know about freelancers visa. So now I’m working a company from next month I going to get freelancers visa.pls tell me is it ok for me.can I work anywhere bcz I stay with my family pls replay
Hi Nalaka, We have clearly explained in the article. Qatar government does not issue any kind of freelancer visa. Buying and selling any type of visa is illegal. As per the law, you can only work for the employer who sponsors your visa. In some cases you can work for other companies if your sponsor gets official approval (through Ministry of Labour). Even this is for a limited period (usually 6 months). So please be careful before paying someone.
You can work but it is illegal way
the construction company I work for have salary delays for more than 7 months. I’m contemplating to look for a part-time / short-time contract jobs by getting this kind of sponsorship (freelance-like). This is just for me to be able to stay in the country while waiting for my current employer to pay what they owe me. this is an option i dont know if I should take. i dont want to be tied again in another construction company that wont pay.
hi..I gave already my resignation to my company but my Manager not accept it I’m almost 4years working as cleaner in a cleaning company and I want to change job but not allowing me then my manager tell to me to go vacation and come back I told to her also to cancel me but she don’t want it.,can u help me please how or where who can help me to cancel my visa so that after my vacation I can come back here not same company,because my husband also working here.,
Hi Maryam, Only your sponsor can cancel your visa. If you get another job, you can apply for change of employer thorough Ministry of Labour. Your new employer can help you with this.
Tanks for this information,but I would like to ask if the company I work for doesn’t give NOC to it’s workers what can I do to change to another job ?
Hi. Good morning. I just want to have an idea about changing company from freelance company to new company.
I am freelancer in my current company for 7 months already, the contract to them is 5 yrs. And I tried to ask NOC to my freelance company, I have plan to transfer to new company., but my freelance company told me I need to pay them QR 3,500 for my NOC to transfer to my new company.
I just want to ask if I really need to pay QR 3,500 before they giving me NOC to transfer to other company.?
Hi Ayah, Companies in Qatar are not allowed to sell their visas or charge employees for NOC. However, most companies which sell their visas (illegally) also demand money for NOC, which is again illegal. Sadly, many people pay money to get rid of them.
It means, if I’m not pay them 3,500 they can’t do any problem to me in the labour? Because the owner of company said, he have a friend in Ministry of Labour, he will do any problem for me in the Labour if I’m not paying them. That’s why I wish the Ministry Of Labour is being fair to their friends who owns a companies and to employees. Thank your for your answer.
Hi Ayah, This is your personal decision. Legally you are not liable to pay anything. It would be better that you discuss this with your new employer and take a decision.
Thank you for this helpful article.
We moved from the UAE and I wasn’t able to find lots of content about this topic. This was an eye opener since I kept hearing freelance visa but was never able to find an official channel with more information and your article explains now why.
Is there anything similar to the UAE freelance visa where I’d be able to legally work but still stay under my husband’s sponsorship?
Are there any other ways how I’d be able to work LEGALLY for myself but independently? Is my query worth a Ministry visit?
Thanks Eni, Unfortunately, Qatar doesn’t have an official freelance visa program like UAE. Either you need to be employed by an employer or you need to start your own business. Most business require a local sponsor, company registration etc.
How much is freelance visa in Qatar at the moment and how long does it last
You have said it all…many young and desparate people want to start a new life abroad but they are conned of Thier money.. esp with visa and work permit processing ..this infor is vital for those who want to work and settle in Qatar .. I am in Qatar an am enjoying my stay. Thank you
Thanks for the comment Jacob.
Jacob can you send me an email, I’ll like to have some discussion with you..
How to change and employer to a new one without issueing of NOC
Hi, Please check this: https://www.dohaguides.com/how-expatriates-can-change-job-in-qatar/
What is the best way to land in Qatar with work visa? I just visited Qatar on arrival visa but had suffered heavily on hotelling. Eventually I had to wrap up my trip and returned after spending only two weeks. Spent equal to 450,000 PKR in my trip excluding food.
Hi Arif, Sorry to hear that. There is no definite way that works for everyone. You can try applying online for vacancies from outside Qatar. Some companies do online interviews also. Or else you will have to wait till 2023 when the tourist visa reopens, or visa on arrival rules are relaxed.
Hello Doha guides team, I’m a Nigerian living in Nigeria, I will love to come to Qatar to work… Please, how do I go about it, what kind of visa permit me to stay and work in Qatar?
Hi Austin, Either you can come on a visit visa and attend job interviews. Or you should get a job offer from an employer in Qatar. In this case, the employer will take care of the visa. There are some companies that charge you for a visa but won’t give you a job. As explained above, this is not a legal process and you will be responsible to find a job on your own.
AM INTRESTED TO HAVE A FREELANCE VISA
All I can think to say is wow! I think your info is intriguing and fascinating. You have done a great job on this article. After reading this article i get to know more about freelance license and how i get this
Hi John, Thanks for your kind words.
Sorry to say No judgements but if you read the article as you claim then there would be no way kn earth that you will still ask about to get it. Sad stop lying. Again No Judgements