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Visas for Bahrain fall into several different categories. The type of visa required will depend on the purpose of the visit, number of expected visits and the length of an expat's stay in the Kingdom.
Depending on their nationality, many expats will be able to obtain a visa on arrival in Bahrain and will receive a stamp in their passport when entering. Otherwise, expats may be eligible for an eVisa, which is applied for in advance and stored online. In the case that an expat's particular country isn't part of such an agreement, they will need to apply for a tourist visa in person at their local Bahraini embassy.
In most cases, foreigners entering Bahrain will be required to have a Bahraini sponsor to support their visa application. Sponsors can be an individual, a company or an institution. In most cases, it will be the expat's employer.
Tourist visas for Bahrain
Foreigners visiting Bahrain for holiday or those on a short fact-finding trip prior to accepting an expat contract will need to apply for a tourist visa. Some travellers will be entitled to a visa upon arrival at the airport in Bahrain, providing that they are in possession of a valid passport and an onward or return ticket.
Visitors ineligible for a visa on arrival must pre-arrange their visa, either through the eVisa system or by application through a Bahraini embassy. These applications must be supported by a sponsor. Those without a contact in Bahrain may be able to use a travel agency or hotel as their sponsor.
Once the visa has been granted, the foreigner is entitled to visit Bahrain for the duration of the period stated on their visa. A tourist visa does not permit the holder to carry out any form of economic activity during their stay, including working and business-related activities.
Business visas for Bahrain
Business visas are issued to those visiting Bahrain for business and representing a company. Those in possession of a business visa are only permitted to carry out official company business while in the Kingdom. They are not entitled to look for alternative employment or take up any form of employment with another company in Bahrain. Business visas are valid for up to four weeks.
Work visas for Bahrain
Most expats moving to Bahrain have been lured to the Kingdom by a lucrative job offer. Anyone who plans on working for either a local or international business in Bahrain will need a work visa to allow them to do so legally. In most cases, expats will find that their employer will take care of arranging the work visa for them. That said, it's worth being aware of the requirements as expats will need to provide their employer with several important documents.
Once a job offer is solidified, the hiring company will usually completely bear the burden of organising visas and paperwork. In such cases, expats will merely need to help supply the requested documents.
Work permits are valid for a maximum of two years, at which point they need to be renewed. Once an expat arrives in Bahrain with a work permit, they will also need to apply for a residency permit.
Residency permits for Bahrain
Those taking up employment in Bahrain will need to apply for a residency permit in addition to their work visa. The residency permit, once granted, will run concurrently with the work visa.
It's important to note that a residency permit alone won't allow the holder to take up employment in Bahrain.