Visa issues

Attorney Fajer Ahmed

As a Kuwaiti, I can say that I am really blessed that I grew up in a country like Kuwait. It is so diverse, and that makes me feel blessed because with differences we can prosper and learn more about others and ourselves. I went to a school with students from all walks of life. I had an Iranian, Croatian and Ghanian best friends. I saw families that came to work in Kuwait, some left within a year and others still live in Kuwait (15 years later), and there diversity really impacted my life and my work ethic.

Although Kuwait has been a hub for many multi-cultured families, I still get a lot of questions and concerns from people through mail asking me about work in Kuwait, and are worried about their lives here. Of course not everything about Kuwait is perfect, and there is great space for improvement.

Fortunately though, I have seen legal improvement in the past few years as part of the Kuwait 2035 plan, which is the vision by the Kuwaiti government for Kuwait to be this thriving hub for commerce. I have seen positive changes in the past few years, even months to commercial laws in Kuwait. But I hope that we will see modifications to regulations concerning the work environment for expats in Kuwait because without them we cannot be this commercial hub.

Although we have a fair Kuwaiti Labor Law (6/2010), I personally hope to see strict punishments to those violating the labor law or bylaws that involve migrant workers. Today I will answer not-so-common questions and concerns from foreigners that want to work in Kuwait.

Mixed reviews
Question: I am worried about coming to work in Kuwait. I have heard many mixed reviews of positive and negative experiences, but what worries me the most is the that visa laws and regulations are confusing. What should I watch out for?
Fajer: I understand why there are mixed reviews and why you would think that visa laws and regulations are confusing. There have been a few factors that brought about these thoughts and concerns; it is because there has been some negative coverage in the media, all going back to Kuwait’s 2035 plan and deportation of expats in Kuwait, as well as the fact that the visa regulations have been changing regularly.

The important thing though, and I repeatedly say this to my clients, is to have things in writing. Please understand that if an employer is going to bring you to Kuwait and you agree with them to work a certain amount of years, it might be difficult to transfer to another employer unless they terminate your contract or you receive direct permission from them to transfer.
The new visa regulations have time limits before you can transfer depending on the type of visa you have and your education; some limits vary from one to six years. You also want to make sure that you sign a clear and concise contract before coming to Kuwait, stating your job description, your salary and other benefits like housing or travel allowances.

Tourist visa
Question: I have many friends working in Kuwait under a tourist visa or while they are on their husband’s visa. Is that legal?
Fajer: No. It is not legal to work under a tourist visa in Kuwait or while being on a dependent visa. With that said, I have seen it many times especially for teachers. It does not make sense that schools are allowed to have such practices; teachers need to be qualified to be teaching our students and there has to be strict regulations in place. If you are going to do so, be prepared to be deported for violating visa regulations as it is a violation to work while on a tourist visa in many countries, resulting in deportation or even a ban from the country or a region.

For any legal questions or queries, email [email protected]

By Attorney Fajer Ahmed

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