Defense and Interior Affairs Committee of Parliament met last week to discuss a draft bill on amendments to the foreigners residency law and other related bylaws . The draft bill submitted by Ministry of Interior (MoI) contained several amendments to the existing law on granting residency to foreigners.

Among the major components of the draft bill are that the Interior Ministry reserves the right to permit a foreigner to obtain normal residence for a period not exceeding five years. It also allows the ministry to grant a maximum of 10 years residence for children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners, and to foreign owners of real estate in Kuwait.

The draft bill also permits the ministry to raise the duration of residency of foreign investors to a maximum of 15 years, provided they fulfill the conditions determined by the Council of Ministers, and their investments meet the scope and categories, as well as amount of investments that would entail them to receive long-term investment visas.

The amendments also state that, with the exception of children of Kuwaiti women married to foreigners, owners of real estate, and those granted a long-term investor visa, a foreigner is not permitted to stay outside Kuwait for a period of more than six months, unless the Ministry of the Interior decides otherwise.

Meanwhile, the draft bill has maintained the law on duration of visitor visas and temporary visas to no more than three months, with the obligation to leave after that period unless the visitor obtains a residence permit, or the temporary visa holder obtains an extension period from the Ministry of Interior. The Minister of Interior is authorized to determine the conditions in which temporary residence is granted to a foreigner.

The draft bill also obligates those providing accommodation to visitors or temporary visa holders, including the managers of hotels and furnished rental residences to inform the competent authority at the Interior Ministry about the foreigners who stay in their facilities or leave, forty-eight-hours before they leave and keep records related to their stay.

Employees authorized by the Interior Ministry shall have the right to inspect these records, and if necessary, issue violations and refer the violator to the competent authorities. A decision shall be issued by the Minister of Interior defining the procedures related to this matter.

In addition, the draft bill contains several amendments related to domestic labor: The domestic worker may be granted a normal residence permit in accordance with the Article (13) of the existing law, within the duration of their recruitment contract.
The employer must notify the competent authority at the Interior Ministry within two weeks if their domestic worker leaves work. In addition, it is not permissible to transfer the residence visa of a domestic worker without the approval of their original employer.

If the residency of a domestic worker is canceled from the day they leave work, they must leave Kuwait within the period specified by the Interior Ministry, unless they are allowed to obtain a new visa by the competent authorities at the ministry.
The domestic worker may not stay outside Kuwait for a period of more than four months unless, before the expiry of this period, they obtain permission to do so from the Interior Ministry. The amendments also maintain that workers in the public and private sectors must obtain a normal residence permit upon request of the entity for which they work and provided they hold a valid passport.

If the employee or worker’s residency period has expired, and they do not obtain the approval to renew it, or obtain another residence permit from another entity, they must leave Kuwait within the period specified by the Interior Ministry.

An employee in a government entity may not be granted a residence permit at another entity without the approval of the authority in which they were working, while an employee in the private sector may not be granted a residence permit in another private entity without approval of the competent authority at the ministry.

Public and private sector employers must notify the competent authority at the Interior Ministry within two weeks of the end of service of an employee, or of their termination or quitting work. The applicant for a foreigner’s entry visa, temporary visa, or regular residence visa, must notify the Interior Ministry if the holder of such visa does not leave Kuwait at the end of their visa duration.

All fees related to residency and its renewal and all types of entry visas are determined and modified by a decision of the Minister of Interior, and children of Kuwaiti women who have obtained residency permits are exempted from these fees in accordance with the provisions of Article (10 paragraph 1) of this law, and any other provisions of this law.

A foreigner is prohibited from working for others in violation of the requirements of his residence in Kuwait. It is also prohibited for the employer or the foreign recruiter to employ the worker for a purpose other than what they were recruited for, or to facilitate their work for others without permission from the competent authority at the Interior Ministry.

It is prohibited for a third party to harbor or use a foreigner, whether their residence is valid or has expired, and it is also prohibited to accommodate a foreigner if they do not hold a valid residence in the country.

The amendments kept the severe penalties for trafficking in residence permits by anyone exploiting the recruitment process, or facilitating foreign recruitment by offering an entry visa or residence permit or renewing it in exchange for sums of money, or for gaining benefit, or promise to do so for oneself or others. A foreigner shall be expelled from Kuwait by a decision of the Minister of Interior if he does not have a residence permit or if the permit period has expired, and he may return to Kuwait if he fulfills the conditions for entry in accordance with the terms of entry in force at that time.

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