New rules to discourage entry of certain expat categories

Interior Ministry has announced that KD500 will be the new minimum salary required to obtain a Family Visa; earlier the minimum salary was set at KD450. The ministry further clarified that those who have already secured a family visa but do not meet the new salary specification will have to receive special approval from the Director General of the General Department of Residency Affairs when renewing the residency. Legal advisors, judges, doctors, pharmacists, financial and economic advisors, and engineers are the handful of professions that are exempt from having to comply with the new salary conditions.

In line with the government’s decision to reduce the number of expatriates and realign the demographic imbalance in the country, the General Department of Residence Affairs at the Ministry of Interior has reportedly issued several amendments regarding visa eligibility for foreigners. In addition to the recently introduced clause, which stipulates that only those earning KD500 or higher per month could sponsor their families, new conditions being implemented include that only children below the age of 12 could be sponsored as a dependent child, and that family visas would not be issued to people from seven specific countries.

Other clauses aimed at discouraging expatriates from living in the country include, male children who are 18 years and above and are living in Kuwait will not have their residency permit renewed, unless they can prove they are enrolled in one of the local universities. A number of professions are exempt from the minimum salary requirement, including consultants, jurists, prosecutors, experts, legal researchers in the government sector, doctors, lecturers in higher education institutions, school principals and assistants, education guides and teachers, social counselors, laboratory technicians, economic and finance advisors, engineers, imams, muezzins and those who teach the Holy Quran, librarians, nursing staff, paramedics, medical technicians with various specializations, journalists and press correspondents, coaches and players in sport clubs, pilots and service crew, and undertakers.

The new residency rules are meant to dissuade specific categories of people and nationalities from living in Kuwait with their families. Though the seven countries that were banned from bringing in families, and the category of workers who could not apply for family visas, were not specified, human rights organizations would probably call these measure a clear case of racial profiling and blatant discrimination. But then, what is new?

An official source at the ministry of interior pointed out that the recent decision to increase the minimum salary requirement to apply for a family visa to KD500 was only the beginning, and other deterrence such as an increase in transaction fees is on the anvil.

The aim behind these measures was to dissuade those coming to the country and violating state laws, while at the same time making it more convenient for those coming on tourist and visit visas. The source also revealed that new procedures will be implemented at the start of 2020 to prevent forged visas, including the introduction of tamper-proof security features on visas.

On a related note, the ministry source also revealed that stricter measures would be brought in regarding absconding complaints and the legal period to report an absconding case. In the future, as soon as the authorities are informed of an absconder, the residency permit of the offender will be cancelled and the file will be referred to the investigations department. Moreover, a fine of KD1,000 which currently exists for harboring absconders will be enforced with vigor. It was also disclosed that no residency had been restored to those reported absconding since the start of 2016.