KuwaitOther News

One in three illegals avail of amnesty in two months

4,000 Filipinos have left during grace period – Amnesty expires April 22

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa

KUWAIT: Nearly one in every three illegal residents in Kuwait has availed of a government-backed amnesty. A total of nearly 47,000 illegal residents have either left the country or legalized their status since the amnesty period began on Jan 29, 2018, according to interior ministry officials. Although specific numbers of each nationality are not made public, the interior ministry has confirmed that the top five nationalities with residency violators include (in order of the number of violators): India, Philippines, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Philippines Embassy yesterday confirmed that around 4,000 Filipinos had left the country under the amnesty program and that approximately 6,000 Filipinos remain illegally in Kuwait. “We would like to appeal to illegal Filipinos to leave and take advantage of this amnesty program,” Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa said. “In the past few days, very few Filipinos have applied for the amnesty. We hope that they take this seriously and we want them to leave via the amnesty program,” he said.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has set a deadline of April 12 for accepting amnesty applications, noting that it needs at least 10 days to complete all necessary paperwork and procedures. “Those who are still working because they want to make money must decide now – come forward and be ready. Anyway, you are not going to spend money on plane tickets, as the Philippine government is paying the tickets of all amnesty takers. I appeal again – come forward, leave the country via the amnesty program and return to your family,” Villa urged.

The interior ministry has warned that a crackdown will follow after the amnesty period and those who are caught will be deported and blacklisted. The director of the residency department at the interior ministry said the number of expats who benefited from the amnesty reached 46,737 as of March 22, 2018, of whom 30,052 left the country without paying fines, while the rest corrected their status. Those who availed of the amnesty are allowed to come back to Kuwait. The deadline for the amnesty period set by the ministry is fast approaching – April 22, 2018. Some embassies however are struggling to convince their nationals to go home.

Kuwait is working to reduce the country’s expatriate population – including both illegal and legal residents – and has adopted increasingly stricter measures to clamp down on issues like illicit visa trading, human trafficking and illegals living in Kuwait. It has also implemented policies like additional certification requirements for engineers in order to renew their work permits. Kuwait has a population of more than 4 million, with foreigners accounting for nearly 70 percent.

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