Visa traders

Muna Al-Fuzai

I usually receive via email inquiries or complaints about the visa and residence system in Kuwait. I do not have the answers, because this issue in Kuwait is left to the sponsor. The sponsor decides the fate of the worker and agrees or refuses and sometimes bargains until the worker feels helpless and is forced to accept the conditions or complain to the authorities.

I believe that the Public Authority for Manpower is trying to end fraud by residency traders by applying international labor standards and administrative development to enforce employment laws. In fact in recent years, the files of such companies have been closed, because Kuwait has signed many agreements on protecting employees and preserving labor rights. So it is time for such complaints to end.

I know well that the residency departments of the interior ministry are also doing their part, but unfortunately, Kuwait’s history of humanitarian and charitable work is being damaged by residency traders, who harm the expatriate workforce and Kuwait’s international reputation. I think government intervention in this matter is necessary to fight these saboteurs who are harming us as a community.

The number of expats in Kuwait, according to official statistics, has reached more than three million. Most of them have employment contracts, but there are also some who sold everything they own in their countries in order to obtain a visa to enter Kuwait, only to find themselves victims of residency traders and becoming hunted by security men. I know that it is natural that security forces campaign against expats who do not have valid residence permits, not allow them to stay here and end their presence by sending them back home. But does this end the problem for good?

What about those who brought them here, who get away scot-free, looking for other expatriates to sell them the illusion? Also, obtaining a work visa in Kuwait is not easy and requires relationships and money. The misfortune here is that the owners of these companies get a lot of money.

There are those who have paid thousands of dinars to obtain a visa to enter Kuwait, in addition to a large amount of money to renew their residency for one or two years! I think these expats did not violate the labor law by their own will, but they were exploited. Sometimes they have valid status, but without real work or business relations with the company that brought them to Kuwait, except on paper or when a problem occurs.

The problem here is that the owners of the companies defend themselves by saying that they do not force anyone to pay in exchange for entering the country, and this is an agreement that takes place between two parties by mutual consent – that I bring you to Kuwait and guarantee your residency. But, bringing people without real work is not beneficial to any expatriate, because it is likely that they will not find a job.

I have a few tips for new expats. There is a hotline and an email to receive complaints linked with the Public Authority for Manpower for urgent complaints from foreign workers specialized in resolving labor disputes. An expatriate can file a complaint if they don’t receive their financial dues, want their passport, want to transfer their residence or cancel the residence for travel or any other complaint.

The interior ministry has developed its visa process with the Kuwait e-visa website. It is available in both Arabic and English and I hope everyone reviews this site before coming to Kuwait to learn about the laws and legislations here. But this may not be easy for uneducated laborers, so embassies should direct anyone who wants to come to Kuwait to check this site to know what they must know before they take up any offer.