August 30, 2011

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) has announced that, beginning September 1, 2011, it will  temporarily suspend  the ability of all foreign nationals entering Kuwait in Commercial Visit Visa (CVV) status to  convert their purpose of stay (i.e., regularize status) from visitor to employment status. According to news sources, the suspension will remain in effect for an indefinite period of time while the MSAL reviews the types of expatriate workers regularizing status in Kuwait  and how best to implement changes in the current immigration policy.

Ability to Regularize Status in Kuwait

Currently, a Kuwaiti company-sponsored CVV allows entry into Kuwait to facilitate conversion to resident visa and obtain a work permit that allows the foreigner to be employed by the Kuwaiti sponsor.  For many companies, the preferred alternative to consular processing for a work visa is for assignees to enter Kuwait under a 30-Day CVV and all work/visa registration formalities in Kuwait.

What’s Changed?

Beginning September 1, prior to arrival in Kuwait, most foreign workers will be required to arrange for issuance of their work visas with the appropriate Kuwaiti consular post.

As of this writing, it is not yet determined if the MSAL will continue to permit certain professionals holding graduate-level degrees (e.g., doctors and engineers) to continue regularizing their status.

Please note that this change will not affect nationals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries* entering Kuwait and regularizing their status from visitor to work/residence authorization.

Clients are advised that this change is a result of the recent political unrest in the region. Following recent anti-regime protests across the Arab states, Kuwait is assessing potential national security concerns as a result of a recent surge of foreign workers into the country.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Many companies based in Kuwait have voiced their objection to the planned restrictions. As a result, representatives of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry will meet with ministry officials to discuss how the suspension of commercial visit visas will impact companies.

Employers should review any upcoming Kuwait assignments with their Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist to confirm if appropriate to initiate filing the necessary work permit applications with the MSAL and request for work visa authorization from the Ministry of Immigration.  Given the short advance notice, assignees scheduled to arrive Kuwait on or after September 1 should be warned that their assignment start dates may be postponed at least one to two months until the Kuwaiti authorities formulate a final policy.   Employers should also take note that certain assignees may be required to under medical examinations by a panel physician authorized by the Kuwaiti consular post processing the assignee’s work visa application.

*Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or final guidance for any immigration matter. Readers are reminded that a country’s immigration laws and requirements may change with little to no advance public notice. Questions regarding specific immigration matters should be addressed to your Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist.  Pro-Link GLOBAL has worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office, Move One Relocation in Kuwait, to provide this update.