Tomorrow, the Interior and Defense Committee of the National Assembly will engage in discussions the “Residency of Foreigners” project. This proposal, which has been presented multiple times, is nearing its finalization stage in terms of its articles. The aim is to ready it for referral to the National Assembly for inclusion in the upcoming session’s agenda.
The draft encompasses 37 articles and 7 chapters. It addresses various aspects such as the process for entry and deportation of foreigners, notification to the relevant authorities, combating residency trafficking, and associated penalties. Additionally, it grants Kuwaiti women married to foreigners the right to sponsor their husbands and children, provided they haven’t obtained citizenship as per Article 8. The project also outlines penalties for violations.
Among its provisions, the project mandates that hotels and furnished residences report foreigners renting their accommodations to judicial authorities. It also stipulates that fees related to residence, renewals, and various entry visas will be determined by ministerial decisions.
The draft strongly prohibits the trafficking of residencies, including exploitation, recruitment, or facilitation of recruitment of foreigners in exchange for monetary gains or benefits. Violations of this law incur criminal penalties, including imprisonment for a maximum of three years and a fine ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 dinars. The draft designates the Public Prosecution for exclusive jurisdiction in exempting individuals from residency trafficking penalties.
Government Amendments: The government previously submitted a memorandum containing amendments aimed at aligning perspectives with the committee members. The amendments were in response to objections raised by representatives regarding certain articles in the project.
Notably, managers of hotels and furnished residences intended for rent must inform the competent Ministry of Interior authority about foreigners staying in or departing from their facilities within 48 hours. Employees, as designated by the Minister of Interior, have the right to inspect records and report violations. The amendments also grant residence permits to Kuwaiti citizens for their foreign husbands and children. Widows or divorced Kuwaiti individuals with children from a foreign spouse can also obtain residence permits.
Additionally, the amendments allow temporary residence for foreigners in Kuwait, not exceeding three months. They must leave the country upon its expiration, unless they obtain a renewal for up to one year. Longer-term regular residence permits (up to five years) can be granted to foreigners, and children of Kuwaiti women and property owners may receive residency for up to ten years. Investors may be granted residency for up to 15 years based on specific investment criteria set by the Council of Ministers.
The law enforces regulations on foreigner residency. For instance, a government employee cannot hold a residence permit with another entity without approval from their current employing entity. Similarly, non-governmental entity employees need approval from the competent authority for a residence permit.
Amendments concerning domestic workers are also outlined in the memorandum. Domestic workers and those in similar roles may receive regular residence permits in line with Article 13 of the law, based on their recruitment contract duration. If their residency is canceled upon leaving work, they must exit Kuwait within the stipulated period unless granted a new residency permit beforehand. Transferring their residency requires the worker’s employer’s approval. The domestic worker may not stay outside Kuwait for more than four months without prior permission from the Ministry of Interior.
Cases of Deportation: The law grants the Minister of Interior the authority to deport a foreigner, even with a valid residence permit, if deportation is deemed necessary for public interest, security, morals, or if the individual lacks a legitimate source of income. The deportation decision may extend to the foreigner’s family members dependent on them. Detention of a foreigner subject to deportation may not exceed thirty days, with the possibility of renewal if required to implement the deportation decision. The Minister of Interior may waive fines for deported foreigners upon their departure from Kuwait.
Exemptions from the Law: Certain categories are excluded from the law’s provisions, including heads of state and their families, officials and staff of diplomatic missions along with their families (subject to reciprocity), holders of diplomatic, special, and political passports (subject to reciprocity), and individuals whom the Minister of the Interior deems appropriate to exclude due to courtesy-related considerations.