Illegals can leave Kuwait without paying fines, won’t be blacklisted

KUWAIT: The interior ministry issued a decree yesterday granting a general amnesty to expatriates living in Kuwait without valid visas. The amnesty runs between Jan 29 and Feb 22, 2018 and is expected to benefit nearly 130,000 expatriates in violation of residency laws. The amnesty decree (no. 64/2018) gives illegal residents two options – they can either leave the country during the abovementioned period through any port without getting permission from any authority and without paying any penalties; or they can legalize their status and continue residing in Kuwait after paying all fines and obtaining a valid visa without being referred to the investigation department.

Residency violators who are banned from travelling or have a court case should visit the residency affairs department to discuss the possibility of getting a valid visa during the amnesty period. Those who leave the country during this amnesty period are allowed to enter Kuwait again if they meet the regular conditions of entry and if they were not banned for another reason.

This decree does not apply to expats who will lose their legal residency status after the amnesty period. If an illegal resident is caught during the amnesty period, they will be deported immediately. Residency violators who don’t leave the country during the amnesty period will face legal penalties, won’t be give a valid visa, will be deported, and won’t be allowed to enter Kuwait again.

Head of the interior ministry’s media security department Lt Col Nasser Buslaib stressed on the importance of this decree. “This is a great opportunity for illegal residents to resolve their legal status, especially since those who want to leave don’t have to pay fines. Also, they will have the chance to come back in the future, rather than being blacklisted if caught and deported,” he told Kuwait Times.

Those who want to legalize their status and stay in the country will pay a penalty of KD 2 for each day up to total of KD 600, even if they were in violation for a longer period. The last time an “amnesty” was granted was in January 2016, but it was partial, as violators who wanted to leave the country still had to pay fines. The last full amnesty (leaving without paying fines) was granted in 2011.

The amnesty comes as a relief for thousands of Indian workers forced to illegally extend their stay in Kuwait due to non-payment of salaries. “This comes as a great relief for the Indian workers,” said social worker Shaheen Sayyed, who had taken up their cause, according to a report in the Times of India. The paper said many of the workers, mostly from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, went to the Indian Embassy yesterday and submitted their details so that they could return home. The amnesty also comes after India’s Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh’s recent visit to Kuwait. Singh had taken up the issue of the workers who had not been paid.
By Nawara Fattahova