Qatar to abolish exit visa system by year’s end: UN

DOHA, April 26 . Qatar is set to abolish its controversial exit visa system for all foreign workers by the end of the year, the UN’s International Labour Organization said Friday.

Qatar has introduced a series of labour reforms since its selection as the 2022 World Cup host, with the event setting in motion a huge construction programme employing foreign workers.

“Last year, the exit visa was eliminated for the majority of workers, this year, that will be extended to all remaining categories of workers,” ILO’s Houtan Homayounpour, head of the labour agency’s project office in Doha, told AFP.

In September 2018, Qatar approved legislation to scrap the “kafala”, or sponsorship, system which required that foreign workers obtain permission from their employers to leave the country.

In October, it went into force for all but five percent of a company’s workforce — reportedly those in the most senior positions.

Homayounpour said “this year is a big year” for migrant workers and the exit visa system “will officially be eliminated” by the end of 2019.

In February, Qatar said it was committed to labour reform following an Amnesty International report that the 2022 World Cup host was failing to stop widespread labour abuse.

Doha said it was on course to deliver “lasting” change after the human rights group accused the energy-rich state of “running out of time” to implement reforms before the World Cup.

As part of its pledge to reform the labour section, Qatar has also introduced a monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals ($206) and agreed to work closely with the ILO, which now has an office in the capital.