Why is Kuwait deporting expats?

Ministry of Interior (MoI) authorities were facing pressure from the need to deport a large number of expatriates, as it takes over two weeks to process the deportation of expatriates detained for violating the residency law, a source at the MoI revealed.

More than 10,000 expatriates have been deported at an average of about 2,000 per month since the beginning of the year and the ministry said it was finding it difficult to find plane tickets in the coming months due to the summer rush.

The ministry is keen to reduce the large number of expatriates accumulated in the detention centers and reduce the overcrowding. Most of the deportees are residency violators who have been unable to renew their permits and have been staying in the country illegally.

Kuwait is facing a huge problem of visa trafficking which is rife in the country. Traffickers exploit loopholes in the labour sponsorship system by creating work permits for fake companies or nonexistent jobs, which are sold to unskilled workers in labour exporting countries such as India, Egypt, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

When workers arrive in Kuwait often they discover they do not have a job and resort to hard labour, working without a valid visa.  The Kuwaiti government estimates there are nearly 120,000 people living illegally.

A crackdown on illegal workers means more deportees. Last year the government arrested 2,900 foreigners of various nationalities in the biggest-ever human trafficking case in the country’s history. During the course of investigation, the Ministry took into custody around 90 persons who confessed that they had paid large amounts of money to imaginary companies that signed contracts with various government agencies, so they can carry on working in Kuwait illegally, according to Kuwait News Agency.

Kuwaiti Public Prosecution released on bail the three company owners after investigating them, but, one Syrian expatriate was kept under arrest as he turned out to be the mastermind and the one who attempted to complete the necessary paper work with government agencies, enabling the three imaginary companies to bring this huge number of employees to work illegally in the country.

The details of the case began to unfold when the General Department of Residency Affairs carried out a surprise inspection in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and during the inspection, some foreigners were captured as it turned out that they were granted fake residencies through imaginary companies holding government contracts.

When asked about the reasons why they are working illegally instead of going to their designated workplaces, the detainees admitted that they had come to Kuwait using free visas after paying an amount of money in exchange for entering Kuwait and being allowed to work wherever they wanted.

The sources added that the General Department of Residency Affairs reviewed the files of the aforementioned imaginary companies, which are supposed to be the party that employed the detained foreigners, and discovered several alarming details. It found out that the headquarters of the three enterprises, located in Kuwait City, Al-Farwaniyah and Al-Ahmadi, was closed and out of service.

The other surprise was that the workers who entered Kuwait under the pretext of working for these imaginary companies exceeded the declared number, estimated at hundreds, to reach 3,000 foreigners from different nationalities. Nevertheless, they all had government contracts allowing them to come to Kuwait and work. The sources pointed out that the examination carried out by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior unveiled that the vast majority of the employees brought by these imaginary companies are mainly Pakistani followed by Bangladeshis and then Egyptians. Pakistani expatriates paid about 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars.

Recently Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel said work on finalizing the procedures needed to electronically link labor recruitment between Kuwait and Egypt is in progress. Aqeel stressed that e-connection with Egypt or any other country exporting workers to Kuwait does not necessarily mean opening the door to hire more laborers from that country. “The basic goal of the process is to put an end to fake contracts and visa trafficking, which results in the leakage of marginal labor into the local labor market,” Aqeel noted that e-connection would regulate the recruitment of foreign labor under the supervision of Kuwait and concerned countries.

Aqeel added that e-connection with Egypt came after studying Egypt’s e-connection with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and stressed that the manpower authority is currently working on finalizing the needed procedures.