Kuwait’s Interior Ministry has said that in a rare gesture and taking into consideration the good and strong ties with India, it would not imprison or penalize the over 24,000 illegal Indian workers, if they report for deportation or transfer of job visas.
“We are lenient towards Indian workers but have asked them to strictly follow the rules and regulations. The Immigration Department is ready to help them in the deportation process,” said Major General Talal Ibrahim Marafie, who heads the department, while speaking to a group of Indian journalists on a recent visit to Kuwait.
There are around one million Indian workers in Kuwait, who contribute immensely to the development of the country. The latest figures from the General Department of Residency show that there are 921,666 Indians in Kuwait with an overwhelming majority (79%) of them being males (725,620) and 21 percent or 196,046 being females,
Major General Marafie said there were multiple reasons for overstay by illegally residing Indians. In most cases, workers leave their sponsors and work for other companies for financial benefits or better jobs. There are also cases where the sponsor is abroad and when visas expire there is no one to help the workers get their travel documents legalized. Some sponsors retain the passports of workers. He said the government was keen to help illegal workers if they directly report to us.
Adding that the Immigration Department will make necessary arrangements for their deportation, Major General Marafie noted that in some cases, the workers would have to pay a small amount as a penalty, but in most cases, even this has been waived. He said that 2,018 illegal Indian workers had already been helped to leave the country without any penalty.
However, the Major General made it abundantly clear that if any of the workers had indulged in malpractices, they would not be spared.
With regard to the subject of non-payment of dues to the workers, he said the government attached great importance to this critical issue. Senior Interior Ministry official Mohammed Ajami added that thousands of such cases had been resolved. The Ministry also offers legal assistance to workers to fight their cases in court. The verdict has to be given within one month’s time so that the workers do not suffer any delay. The government has also formed a committee of lawyers to help foreign workers in settling their dues.
The government has also proposed certain changes in the labor laws under which workers would have the right to retain their passports and travel documents. Moreover, sponsors will be made responsible to pay dues within a one-month period or face legal action.