Kuwait: Skilled expats unaffected by visa crackdown

Published:  12 Dec at 11 AM
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Skilled expats in Kuwait will not be affected by a proposed five-year residency cap on foreigners working in the Gulf state.

At present the number of expats in the country, which has a population of around 1.25 million, is in the region of 2.5 million, but the new proposal wants that figure brought down to just 10 per cent of the population. Currently expats with residency visas have a right to return within six months after leaving the country, but that privilege is also set to be scrapped.

However, the new guidelines will allow for special skilled expats to be exempt, while citizens from the EU, the US and other Gulf countries will also be exempt. Among the professions to be excluded from the regulations will be doctors.

The biggest proportion of the expat population in Kuwait is made up by low-skilled workers, with 670,000 Indians, 520,000 Egyptians and 210,000 Bangladeshis living and working there. There are also huge communities of Filipino, Syrian and Pakistani expats.

The result of the new proposals will be that tens of thousands of workers will have to leave the country each year and the majority will not be allowed to return. However, the bill will not come into effect until it has been approved by parliament.

Analysts say that the new guidelines mirror what is happening in other Gulf State Council nations, which want to create more employment opportunities for their nationals while reducing their dependence on expat workers.

Oman and Bahrain are also mulling over placing a cap on expat workers, while Saudi Arabia has already deported thousands of expat workers and changed work visa regulations and employment rules in order to create work for young, unemployed locals.
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