BY FAZEENA SALEEM
DOHA: A number of expatriates have been complaining that they are facing difficulties in getting residency visas for their wives and children despite the fact that they fulfil the necessary requirements.
Some say they are left wondering why their family visa requests were turned down without any reasons being assigned although they appeared for interviews and submitted relevant documents.
Then, there are others who say they have given up hope to get a family visa after making repeated attempts.
Some of these people say that one of the problems is that a family visa applicant is sometimes asked to produce rent contract to show he has a place to keep his family, but this contract is hard to produce.
First, because the document needs to be ratified by the municipality of the area concerned. The municipality would not attest a rent agreement (between a tenant and landlord) if it is not registered with it.
To get a tenancy agreement registered with a municipality, the landlord must pay one percent of annual rent as fee. So, not many landlords prefer to register rent agreements.
Secondly, since most people prefer to stay in sub-let homes due to rents being very high, getting a rent contract attested by the municipality is impracticable.
In many a case, the authorities also insist on an applicant producing an electricity and water bill in his name, which is not possible if an expatriate is living in a sublet accommodation.
Talking about interviews for family visa, an expatriate said he appeared for one and was asked basic questions like about his job and salary. “I was asked to check for the visa status online after three days. When I did my visa request was rejected,” said Mohamed Hazim, who works as a senior supervisor in a bank.
He has been here for four years and gets more than QR 10,000 as monthly salary. “I don’t know what more I can do to get a visa. I finally gave up trying for it,” he said.
A special panel comprising officials from different government bodies including the Ministry of Labour scans every family visa application and interviews the applicant before taking a decision.
The committee last year raised the minimum monthly salary slab to QR10,000 for expatriates wanting to sponsor their wives and children.
“I submitted the application even with attested copies of my wife’s educational certificates. All my certificates and marriage certificate were attested by the Foreign Consular office here. My application was rejected,” said Michel Thomas, an auditor who has been here for more than six years.
“My wife and daughter were here on a visit visa, unfortunately, they had to leave last week,” he said.
Some of the applicants have been asked at the interview to produce rent contracts of their homes duly certified by the municipality.
“It’s not easy to get a rent contract certified by the municipality. We have to submit the design of the house and the approved plan, which is impossible for us to get. The house owner will not give this and I’m just a subtenant,” said Sayed Basha, an engineer who has been here for over four years.
“To avoid all these hassles I decided to get a visit visa for my wife, so she can stay here for six months,” he said and explained that even a visit is not purely hassle free, as once the person exits the country, they have to wait for another three months to apply for another visa.
“My salary is only a little less than the required slab and my application got rejected. The minimum required salary was raised last year, but our salaries don’t get increased regularly, so it’s very difficult,” said Abdul Faiz, who works as marketing officer for a reputed company.
“It’s unfortunate that some have the minimum salary required but not the designation, while some have the designation but not the required salary,” he added.
Some companies have been issuing certificates to employees citing higher salaries so that they are eligible to apply for family visa.
The Ministry of Labour checks salary sheets to keep track on such irregularities and is said to have even blacklisted some erring companies. Salary sheets of a company show actually salary payments.
Contacted for comment on the family visa issue, an interior ministry spokesman said subletting homes is illegal.
He criticised private companies and said legally they are required to provide accommodation to their employers, whether they have single or family status as per their job contracts.
“So why blame the interior ministry. The problem lies with the employers,” he said.