Qatar scraps exit visa system: Indians in Gulf countries

The government of Qatar has amended its controversial exit visa policy and now allows expat workers to leave the country without an approval from their employers. Under the new law, employers will no longer have the power to deny exit permits to most of their workers, though they will retain this right for 5% of their workforce. The move to lift the controversial exit visa system comes in the run up to 2022 soccer World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar.

Qatar is now the Middle East's most open country and the 8th most open in the world, when it comes to visa facilitation. Qatari citizens account for approximately 12% of Qatar's total population in H2 2016. As the numbers of migrants in Qatar keep increasing, the local population is increasingly becoming a minority.

Indians were the largest group of foreign citizens in Qatar in 2015/16, with a share of 25% of the resident population as a whole.
The number of Indian workers in the Gulf countries has gone up in the year 2017 as compared to 2015, except for Kuwait. The number of Indian workers grew 6.4 per cent in Qatar between 2015 and 2017.

Traditionally, Kerala would lead the pack but the trend has shifted with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar taking the lead in sending out most people to Qatar.
However, remittances saw a decline of $4.3 billion in 2016/17 compared to the previous year. A majority of remittances to India come from Indian citizens living in the Gulf region.

The new move was applauded by the UN's International Labour Organisation, which opened an office in Doha this year as part of a three-year agreement to oversee labour reform, and called the announcement a "first step".
Other reforms agreed by Qatar and the ILO include - the introduction of minimum wage, workers' committees and a fund to ensure people receive unpaid wages.

Niti Kiran