Min­i­mum salary for visit visas raised to KD 200

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The in­te­rior min­istry has in­creased the min­i­mum wage re­quired for a for­eigner to is­sue visit visas for rel­a­tives, only a few days after the state ap­proved a de­ci­sion to raise the salary re­quired for ex­pa­tri­ate work­ers to spon­sor their wives and chil­dren, in a move said to help curb an in­crease in the coun­try’s ex­pat pop­u­la­tion.

An ex­pat must now have a min­i­mum salary of KD 200 to ap­ply for a visit visa for his wife or chil­dren, said Maj Gen Talal Maarafi, direc­tor gen­eral of the in­te­rior min­istry’s res­i­dency af­fairs de­part­ment. The pre­vi­ous min­i­mum wage was KD 150. Mean­while, the min­i­mum salary must be KD 300 for an ex­pat ap­ply­ing for a visa for a si­b­ling or any other rel­a­tive, ex­cept for par­ents, whose age must not ex­ceed 50 years, Maarafi ex­plained.

The in­te­rior min­istry last year set the du­ra­tion of a visit visa is­sued for a wife or child to three months, while visit visas for rel­a­tives were re­stricted to one month. Last Wed­nes­day, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and In­te­rior Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Khaled AlSabah is­sued a de­ci­sion amend­ing the for­eign

res­i­dency law to raise the salary re­quire­ment for de­pen­dent visas from KD 250 to KD 450, a move ex­pected to cut the num­ber of for­eign fam­i­lies in the coun­try.

The two most re­cent steps come as Kuwait scram­bles for so­lu­tions to ad­dress a de­mo­graphic im­bal­ance prob­lem that is widely blamed for the coun­try’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pub­lic ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture and un­em­ploy­ment among other is­sues. “We have 2,670,000 ex­pats, and if we do not take such mea­sures, this num­ber will dou­ble in a few years, cre­at­ing a big­ger prob­lem,” Maarafi told Al-Rai daily.

“How can a per­son whose monthly salary is KD 250 deal with the high cost of liv­ing and meet all the de­mands of his fam­ily?” Maarafi said in de­fense of the in­te­rior min­istry’s de­ci­sion. “It is il­log­i­cal, and keep­ing it un­changed means cost­ing the state money and com­mit­ment to­wards un­pro­duc­tive man­power.” Maarafi re­as­sured that the de­ci­sion will not be en­forced retroac­tively, and will only af­fect de­pen­dent visa ap­pli­ca­tions sub­mit­ted after the de­ci­sion be­came ef­fec­tive. De­pen­dent visas is­sued be­fore the de­ci­sion can still be re­newed based on the old salary, and the same goes for is­su­ing visas for new­borns, he added.

Only male ex­pa­tri­ates are al­lowed to spon­sor a fam­ily, ac­cord­ing to Kuwait’s res­i­dency laws. The av­er­age salary of a male ex­pat in the pri­vate sec­tor is only KD 247, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sta­tis­tics. In case the hus­band dies, a work­ing mother can spon­sor her chil­dren, pro­vided that her monthly salary meets the KD 450 min­i­mum re­quire­ment, Maarafi ex­plained. Some ex­cep­tions will also be made on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds re­gard­ing spouses and chil­dren, he added.

The in­te­rior min­istry’s re­cent mea­sures are di­rectly linked to the gov­ern­ment’s plan to read­just Kuwait’s pop­u­la­tion, which is cur­rently dom­i­nated by ex­pats at nearly 70 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to sources fa­mil­iar with the is­sue. Mean­while, the same sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the con­di­tion of anonymity ad­mit­ted that a pro­posal to re­duce or set a quota for the num­ber of ex­pat com­mu­ni­ties in Kuwait will take time to im­ple­ment, adding that any step in this re­gard would be taken on a grad­ual ba­sis in or­der to min­i­mize any po­ten­tial neg­a­tive ef­fects that might hap­pen as a result. “[Rush­ing the de­ci­sion] could cre­ate con­fu­sion in the state’s eco­nomic and la­bor mar­ket fields, in ad­di­tion to the ef­fect a dras­tic re­duc­tion could have on Kuwait’s re­la­tions with other coun­tries,” said the sources.

The Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment last week urged Kuwait to re­tract a de­ci­sion it re­cently made to re­duce the monthly rent al­lowance paid to ex­pat teach­ers in pub­lic schools from KD 150 to KD 60, which af­fects nearly 13,000 Egyp­tian teach­ers work­ing in the state. Egyp­tian Min­is­ter of Man­power Mo­ham­mad Saafan was even quoted in the Kuwaiti press as say­ing that the ‘cri­sis’ re­sult­ing from this de­ci­sion will be pre­sented for discussion dur­ing the Arab La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s meet­ing late next week in Qatar.

Min­is­ter of So­cial Af­fairs and La­bor and Min­is­ter of State for Plan­ning and Devel­op­ment Hind Al-Subaih re­it­er­ated as well that rec­ti­fy­ing Kuwait’s de­mo­graphic im­bal­ance re­mains part of the gov­ern­ment’s plans, yet its im­ple­men­ta­tion needs “pro­longed pe­ri­ods of time”.

In other news, Maarafi an­nounced that the in­te­rior min­istry will im­ple­ment the in­te­rior min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion per­tain­ing with rec­ti­fy­ing the sit­u­a­tion of Pales­tini­ans in Kuwait who carry travel doc­u­ments is­sued by Arab coun­tries. Nearly 8,000 Pales­tini­ans have been deal­ing with a dilemma for the past few months after Egyp­tian au­thor­i­ties stopped re­new­ing their travel doc­u­ments is­sued by the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment on grounds that they al­ready carry Pales­tinian pass­ports.

How­ever, those Pales­tini­ans could not re­new their visas in Kuwait be­cause Kuwaiti au­thor­i­ties were yet to rec­og­nize their pass­ports as of­fi­cial doc­u­ments. But this changes this week as the sys­tems at all im­mi­gra­tion de­part­ments around Kuwait will be up­dated to ac­cept Pales­tinian pass­ports, Maarafi said, adding that Pales­tini­ans with ex­pired visas would then be re­quired to ob­tain a cer­tifi­cate from the Pales­tinian Em­bassy to con­firm that their pass­ports are valid, be­fore their new visas are printed on the pass­port.

Sep­a­rately, Maarafi ex­pressed hope that the for­eign min­istry would be­gin search­ing for new mar­kets to re­cruit do­mes­tic helpers be­fore a na­tional do­mes­tic la­bor re­cruit­ment com­pany that was es­tab­lished ear­lier this year be­gins its work.

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