Kuwait mulls fate of over 70,000 expatriate workers stuck overseas

Indian nationals queue outside a school to receive residency violators wishing to avail an amnesty Kuwait on April 16, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 July 2020

Kuwait mulls fate of over 70,000 expatriate workers stuck overseas

  • Study recommends banning three categories of expats from returning to Kuwait

DUBAI: Expatriate workers in Kuwait who are over 60 years, but stuck overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic, are at risk of losing their jobs if the government pursues its plan not to renew their expiring residency visas.

A study is set to be submitted to the Kuwait interior ministry that will recommend who among the over 70,000 expatriates stranded overseas should be allowed back into the country using their previous residency visas.

“The total number of such expats was divided into categories in order to study each category in detail. Those who will be allowed back will enter with new visit visas to be later transferred to their previous residency visas,” Kuwait Times reported, quoting unnamed sources.

The study recommends banning three categories of expats from returning to Kuwait – marginal laborers, expats over 60 years of age and those sponsored by fake companies who have no actual jobs, the news daily said.

Legislators are considering a proposal that would implement a quota for expatriates, after the Kuwait’s ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said the Gulf nation faces a ‘big challenge’ in addressing its demographic imbalance issue.

The Emir added that the “ideal population structure is to have Kuwaitis being 70 percent and non-Kuwaitis 30 percent” of the total population. Kuwait has a population of some 4.8 million people, of them 1.45 million Kuwaitis and around 3.34 million non-nationals, which is the reverse ratio.

“Age and criminal records will determine the return of domestic helpers,” the sources said in the report, noting that sponsors would be asked to replace domestic helpers aged over 60 with those younger.

Domestic helpers indicted in crimes or felonies will not be allowed back, the news report said.

The study will also recommend obtaining arrival and departure lists of dependents to examine the length of their stay in Kuwait, as many of them only stay for a few days and leave, then return before the passage of six months abroad.

“Those will not be allowed to get their residencies back,” the news report quoted sources.


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