Bahrain draws many companies and workers thanks to its liberal business environment, low taxes and operating costs, and well-known shopping areas. However, planning an expansion to Bahrain also involves hiring the right employees and ensuring they stay compliant with local regulations. If you don’t know how to get a work visa in Bahrain or what type of visa your employees will need, you could delay operation or face fines.
Types of Work Visas in Bahrain
If you wish to hire foreign employees to work in Bahrain, you must know whether they need a visa. All nationals of the six Gulf states, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, and British citizens by birth can come to Bahrain without a visa. British citizens can stay for up to a month and get a short extension through the Directorate of Immigration and Passports.
All other individuals must apply for one of the following visas:
- Tourist visa: This visa is issued for two weeks to citizens from the EU, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and the US. It does not allow for employment.
- Visitor visa: Other foreign nationals that want to come to Bahrain through this visa need the sponsorship of a Bahraini, who applies on the visitor’s behalf. It’s valid for a month and doesn’t allow employment.
- 72-hour and seven-day visa: Short-stay business visitors can get one of these visas at the point of entry. It requires an onward ticket and valid passport.
- Business visa: Anyone wanting to stay in Bahrain for longer than a week for business needs a business visa. This visa is valid for up to four weeks, and the duration varies depending on the type of trip.
- Work visa: Your employees will all need work visas if they’re taking up any type of employment. This permit is valid for one to two years and also entitles your workers to residency. You will arrange most of the paperwork.
- Family visa: Any of your worker’s immediate family members will need a family visa, also known as a residence permit, so they can live in Bahrain during the employment period. They cannot work unless they get a separate work visa.
Requirements to Obtain Bahrain Work Visas
An employer or Bahraini national needs to sponsor anyone looking to obtain a Bahrain working visa. The number of visas your company can sponsor depends on the physical size of your company’s office and foreign quotas set by national regulations. You will handle most of the application process on behalf of the employee and must show a letter of employment, commercial registration number, the employee’s capacity, the contract duration, and more.
Other requirements include:
- A completed visa application form
- The employee’s passport
- A passport-size photo
- Copy of the contract with the employee’s name, birth date, and nationality
- Health record from an authorized clinic
- Proof of payment of BD 100 fee
The Bahraini Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) processes and issues all visas before expats arrive in the country. As you submit the necessary documents on your end, employees will also need to complete certain steps. In addition to providing a medical report, employees should show academic or professional qualifications for the position. Bahrain typically processes all work visa applications in around five business days, but delays could take up to two weeks.
Other Important Considerations
After your employees get their work permit, they’re automatically entitled to live in Bahrain. All family members will need a family visa, but the visa does not apply to extended family members. When applying for a family visa, your employees will need to apostille their documents, including their birth certificate, marriage certificate, and educational degree certificate.
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