Agency owner warns of ‘runaway maids’ scenario a la UAE
KUWAIT: The Philippine Embassy is in the dark about the rules and guidelines of a recent ministerial decision allowing transfer of visit visas to work visas in Kuwait. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an embassy source said they will wait until they are notified on the matter before issuing an official statement. “We do not have official notification as yet; there are gray areas to be considered and clarified,” the source added.
“We cannot interfere in the matter related to their laws and regulations as it’s an internal affair. If they have a new set of rules and regulations on visit visas, it’s good for their country’s interests. So our role is to respect it,” the source said. According to him, the welfare and rights of Filipino workers is the primary role of the mission here.
Last week, Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah issued new residency by-laws allowing visit visas to be transferred to residency visas in many cases. There were only minor changes to other residency rules and regulations, especially with regards to fees. The new regulations, which explain how the residency law should be implemented, became effective as after their publication in the official gazette Kuwait Al-Youm.
Visit visas may be transferred to residency visas for the following categories: Subject to the residency affairs’ director’s decision, visitors of ministries and public authorities (with government visit visas) holding university degrees; domestic helpers; dependents arriving on family or tourist visit visas; holders of valid residencies who do not exceed six months out of Kuwait and have to enter with a visit visa; those who enter for work and start procedures to get residency, but have to leave for a maximum of one month; cases subject to the residency affairs directorate’s judgment.
The new by-laws introduce a tourist visa allowing tourists to stay in Kuwait for up to three months, and a multiple entry visa valid for one year for just KD 1 for each month. Foreigners whose residence is cancelled and those who resign will be given up to three months of temporary residency to leave.
Reacting on the issue, an agency owner said problems will be similar to the problems faced in the United Arab Emirates after they allowed visit visa transfers to work visas. “Based on the UAE experience, we cannot deny the fact that there have been so many issues related to that. If the move is not regulated properly and not strict enough, maybe we will see the UAE scenario of runaways and overcrowded embassy facilities. Workers will come on visit visas and will just transfer to their respective employers later. This is legal, but the Philippine government will not be able to monitor its workers fully,” she said. “I hope they would be able to thrash out the problems behind the new laws. Of course, we are directly hit by this new regulation, but we are hoping they will seriously consider the rights of expat workers.”
By Ben Garcia