Visa concerns seem to be a growing worldwide trend and not just in Kuwait. It is not clear to people what regulations are in place. Can I travel to a certain country? Can I go to a country’s border and cross over to another country? For non-nationals in Kuwait, the issue gets even more complicated. Can I transfer my work visa from one employer to another or one type of visa to another? The majority of people in Kuwait are non-Kuwaitis and cannot understand how to navigate the system. Today I answer major concerns of non-nationals in Kuwait regarding visas.
Question: I have many friends working in Kuwait under a tourist visa or while they are on their husband’s visa. Is this legal?
Fajer: No. It is illegal to work under a tourist visa in Kuwait or while being on a dependent visa, and the same goes for most countries. Unfortunately, I have seen it many times, especially 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 an employer and you are not offered a work visa by your employee, then 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 region.
Question: I don’t want to work for my employer anymore and I want a transfer. Can I get a release from them even though I haven’t found a new job? What can I do if I haven’t found a job yet?
Fajer: I would always suggest my clients that they find another job before they ask for a transfer. This is because it is smart to always have a plan before you make a decision. Unless your work environment is not safe, I would wait it out and take all the right steps. With that said, you can get a release and some companies will give you a time frame for you to find another job. Most companies give around two weeks. You can always get an extension visa through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor or from your previous employer – it’s a temporary visa and you can’t travel on it, but at least you will be able to buy time to transfer.
Question: I was told that since I work in a camp for another country’s military as a contractor, Kuwait’s laws do not apply to me even though I have a Kuwait work visa. Instead, the labor law of my employer applies to me – is this true?
Fajer: No, this is not true. Everyone who works in Kuwait for a company is under the Kuwait labor law (excluding those who work for oil companies). A simple way to understand this is to look at your passport – if you have a Kuwaiti work visa or a Kuwaiti work permit – most likely you do – then Kuwaiti law applies to you. On the other hand, if you are deployed to Kuwait for a certain project and a certain temporary timeframe, and you were already working in a foreign country and will go back to working in that foreign country, then we could say that Kuwaiti law is not applicable to you.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed