Expatriates in countries such as Kuwait and Qatar make up more than half the population. If you are moving to the Middle East for work or with your family you are likely to need a visa and a medical check. We take a look at some of the most popular destinations in the region and their health requirements.
United Arab Emirates
If you are planning on settling in the UAE you will need a residency visa, without this you won’t be able to do basic expat things like open a bank account or get a mobile contract. To apply for the residency visa expats will need a health card and to undergo a health check.
All expats applying for a residency visa are tested for HIV, tuberculosis and leprosy. Those who have a positive HIV or leprosy result are deported. For expats with pulmonary TB, treatment is given followed by deportation. For non-pulmonary TB and pneumonia suffers deportation isn’t enforced.
All new visa applicants are tested for hepatitis B. If you get a positive result the consequences depend on your job – barbers and hairdressers, beauty salon staff, food handling staff, health club staff, kindergarten supervisors, maids, nannies, and nursery supervisors are more likely to be deported.
If you are found to have syphilis, treatment is given but deportation is unlikely. A pregnancy test is also given to workers being hired as maid or nannies. It is at the discretion of the sponsoring employer whether to proceed with the visa process.
The health check for a Kuwaiti visa includes a chest X-ray for TB, an HIV test, tests for hepatitis B and C, and filariasis, malaria and syphilis tests.
If you test positive for HIV you will be deported. You may also require a certificate or proof you have received the usual childhood vaccinations such as MMR, polio, diphtheria and TB. You will also be given a meningitis vaccination.
To apply for a work or residency visa expats will need to undergo a medical check similar to Kuwait and the UAE. Applicants are tested for TB, HIV, hepatitis B and C, malaria, syphilis, bilharzia, a full blood, stool and urine work-up may also be requested. A pregnancy test is also done where appropriate.
Expats usually undergo two medical checks, the first in their home country when they apply for the visa, and a second when they arrive and their employer requests a second check to verify the results of the first one. You will save time if you go to a doctor who has experience of doing health checks for visas and putting the correct paperwork together.
Applicants who are found to have HIV, hepatitis or who are pregnant could face deportation depending on their job or type of visa.
For expats working in Qatar a medical certificate must be obtained once in the country, your employer will arrange the medical check for you. The Medical Commission handle all medical checks and they have different processes for men and women. The core tests are the same as the countries above. They include HIV, TB, hepatitis, STDs and other contagious diseases.
HIV positive expats are likely to be deported. The exception to this is if the disease was acquired while already living in Qatar.
For changes to regulations or specific questions visa applicants should check with their nearest embassy or their employer in the Middle East.