Visa regulations have been one of my most common topics in my few years as a legal columnist for the newspaper, but it seems that the regulations keep on changing. I have also written multiple times that I trust my government’s decisions on making these changes and completely support it, but I also hope that I am able to share my opinion on how we can make Kuwait a better place by welcoming more people and treating those who work in this country better (not just by writing but in practice as well).
We are extremely fortunate as Kuwaitis to be living in a place as diverse as Kuwait, with so much talent and culture. The Kuwaiti people have always been welcoming, so it saddens me to see all these negative media reports on expats in Kuwait, and even more when I get emails with questions from expats who are afraid to move to Kuwait. Kuwait is a lovely place and I hope those who want to work in Kuwait can do so.
Question: What are the new changes in visa laws? Is it true that no expats under 30 will be provided with a work visa to work in Kuwait?
Fajer: I know that ‘visa laws’ can be confusing, especially since it is not just one law but different bylaws and ministerial decisions. The newest decisions state that starting from Jan 1, no work permits will be provided to expats younger than 30 in the private and oil sectors. I do not understand the logic behind this decision, although I hope that the government based this decision on a need. I see a lot of hardworking expats in Kuwait who are younger than 30, like teachers or construction workers or journalists.
There have been other changes as well. New visit laws now allow businessmen (or women) to enter Kuwait on a business visa valid for up to one year. Visas will also allow foreign students to study in private universities in Kuwait, and medical visas will be provided to those seeking treatment in Kuwait.
Question: I have many friends working in Kuwait on a tourist visa or on their husbands’ visas – is this legal?
Fajer: No. It is not legal to work under a tourist visa in Kuwait or on a dependent visa. With that said, I have seen this many times, especially with teachers. It does not make sense that schools are allowed such practices – teachers need to be qualified to be teaching our students and there have 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 under tourist visas in many countries, resulting in deportation or even a ban from the country or region.
Question: If my visa/residency has expired and I have a case at the shuoon (Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor) against my employer because of visa-related issues, what can I do? I am really worried about moving around in Kuwait without a visa.
Fajer: If your working visa/residency has expired and you have a case against your employer, then you need to get a temporary visa from the shuoon. You need to ask the shuoon for this. The process could be very complicated, but it is important that you take this step. They can give you a visa ranging from a month to three months, giving you enough time to find a lawyer in Kuwait to represent you so you can go back home or find a new sponsor.
Should you have any questions or concerns, or you require a consultation, please email me at [email protected]
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed