IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Qatar has launched a new electronic visa system that will allow a number of foreign nationals who are ineligible for visa-free travel to Qatar to apply for visas online rather than at an embassy or consulate.
What does the change mean? Effective immediately, nationals of 242 countries and territories may apply for visas valid for stays of up to 30 days in Qatar if they hold visas issued by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States or any Schengen Area or Gulf Cooperation Council country. The change is the latest attempt in a string of efforts by Qatar to open itself up to the international community amid a diplomatic standoff with several of its Persian Gulf neighbors.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The change took effect Sept. 27.
- Who is affected: Nationals of visa-required countries who hold a visa issued by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S. or any Schengen Area or Gulf Cooperation Council country.
- Business impact: The business impact is minimal, as neither business nor work activities will be permitted on visas issued through the new system.
- Next steps: Additional information on how to submit an application for an e-visas is available at www.qatarvisaservice.com.
Background: Qatar has taken a number of steps to open itself to the international community in recent months, including expanding its visa waiver program to 80 countries, moving to allow some expatriates to apply for permanent residence and expanding visas on arrivals to Pakistani nationals.
The e-visa system will require qualifying foreign nationals to submit applications online no more than 90 days and no less than four days before travel. Applicants must have a machine-readable passport valid for six months from the date of travel to Qatar. Applicants are required to upload colored copies of their passport bio page, picture page, a passport-size photo, airline tickets (Qatar Airway passengers are exempt), hotel confirmation and/or any other documents related to where they are staying in Qatar. They must also present proof of a visa for one of the countries listed above.
Nationals of some countries may be asked to submit additional documentation. Visas will be e-mailed to successful applicants, who are encouraged to print them out prior to travel. The visas will be valid for 90 days from the date on which they are issued, with a maximum duration of stay of 30 days. Additional information is available on this FAQ page.
BAL Analysis: Airline, tourist and visa processing officials urge applicants not to wait until the last minute to apply for e-visas when attempting to use the system. The change reflects Qatar’s hopes to open up the country to foreign travel amid a diplomatic crisis intended to isolate the country. But while the program allows for tourist travel, it does not cover those intending to conduct business or work activities.