Tuesday, June 06, 2006

An "Open Visa" for a Housemaid in Qatar???

We're supposed to leave Qatar for good in 2 weeks, plus about 4 days. Besides packing up our stuff, we have some business to settle. Gotta sell the car, as well as figure out what to do with our housemaid. We're facing a very unpleasant dilemma.

We wanted to help her immmigrate to the States, but she was denied a visa. Apparently she doesn't meet the qualifications of "being rooted" enough in Qatar to get a visit visa, nor the criteria required to officially get an immigrant visa. She hasn't worked for us long enough (at least one year) to accompany us as our housemaid from Qatar. Bummer!

SO; we have been trying to accommodate her wishes for her next job. It's her life after all! However, it's a complicated situation… She has been saying she wants to work for Westerners like us…but only if they're muslim too. No Western Christians etc. She also says she doesn't want to work for an Arabic family, even if the madam of the house is western and the man is Arabic.

So…who exacally is left? Finding a couple like my husband and myself is like finding a needle in a haystack. We are rare birds.

NOW the big idea she is proposing is that we write her a release paper from immigration and find her someone who will sponsor her on an "open visa". She says they want HER to pay THEM QR4,000 for this "open visa".

Well, contacted my little friend whose hubby works at immigration, and turns out this "open visa" thing is illegal. Yep, apparently there are folks out there accepting bribes from "khadamas" (housemaids) and letting them work illegally out on the economy.

You can't legally be sponsored by one person as a housemaid and work for other people. These folks know it too, that's why they're asking for QR4,000 as bribes.

What troubles me is;

1. That my housemaid thinks working illegally like this is a good idea. If they'll exploit one rule, what is stopping them from exploiting her in other ways. Effectively, she has no legal rights if she working illegally. She would have no legitimate channel for recourse if she is exploited.

2. That I can't give her what she wants because it's illegal (the "open visa"). I really like this girl, my kids love her like an auntie or something, leaving her here is really going to be tough.


MommaBean said...

Sorry to hear your dilemma. It is interesting that people don't make the connection that people who will break one law may break others. Same happens in the US. Many nannies work illegally and don't seem to realize that a family that pays illegally in the US may also violate any agreement or understanding you have. Basically, I think it's a respect thing (both for yourself and others). At any rate, I hope it works out. And, I think your helper is being FAR too picky. Of course, I say that because our family violates most of her wishes, but I think we're great employers :). We're Christian, and my dh is an Arab... Oh, and since we're not in Qatar, I guess it's all immaterial, but... Hope it resolves itself.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Thanks, Mommabean!

Does Jordan have similar sponsorship structures as here? Here, everyone must have a Qatari sponsor to work. Heck, I can't even change jobs bc my employer won't grant a release to ANYONE. So, I'm quitting, and am not allowed to work (sponsorted by an employer- I could come back any time as an American on a visit visa, and be sponsored by my husband) for 2 years in Qatar.

Rockin' Hejabi said...

Well, it looks like we CAN'T follow all of these picky wishes... can't have your cake and eat it too. If we can't find her a suitable, legal option before we leave, then we'll fly her home!

Qatar Cat said...

You will do her a great deal of a favour (even if she doesn't realise or understand it) if you refuse to help her with the "open visa". In my humble opinion, having your and her circumstances in mind, the best thing you could do is help her go back home. She wants the impossible (Western Muslim family), and is ready to settle for the illegal (open visa), and I think neither of these two wishes could or should be fulfilled. So either she settles for a different option in Qatar, or she goes home. There is no legal and decent third option.

MommaBean said...

I'm not sure exactly what Jordan's sponsorship structure is like. It seemed to me that it wasn't an exceptional hassle to transfer the work visa from the family that originally sponsored our helper over to us. Jordan's a lot less rigid, in my experience, that the gulf countries. An American woman alone can fly in to the airport here and obtain an on-the-spot visa. Since I recently became a dual citizen, I suspect I won't ever really know about how work visas are done here :).

Nzingha said...

similiar things happen in Saudi as well. Our cleaning guy is 'buying' is way onto another visa the end of this year. It cost him quite a bit, and every other guy/woman coming over on such a visa. Usually they pay BIG TIME in their home countries, than pay a monthly fee on top of it all. Their responsible to pay for their own iqama costs, on air fair home ect ect. But it allows them the freedom (if you will) to work as they wish. My house cleaning guy can earn more money in such an illegal situation than he would legally.

She is asking for the impossible to begin with. Your family set up is rare, beyond rare in the ME especially. So who is she going to be sponsored by? A Qatari right.. and she will work for who?? exactly.. won't be the Muslim american couple she is dreaming of.

send her back, tell her you don't feel comfortable aiding her that way. And if she still wants to do it.. save and buy her way from her home country to come in and do the same illegal set up.

btw. even though it is illegal it is common practice. We've hired drivers in the same situations.

aparna john said...

Hi,Individuals living in Qatar are not subject to Income tax. Like most other countries in Middle East with Registered Agents in Qatar most government is funded by revenue from oil industry.Thanks...