Prob­lems with pass­ports and res­i­dency

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By At­tor­ney Fa­jer Ahmed

As a prac­tic­ing lawyer, I am ap­palled by the large num­ber of vi­o­la­tions re­gard­ing pass­ports and res­i­den­cies, even though I have writ­ten about the topic mul­ti­ple times. I do not want to por­tray the pri­vate sec­tor in Kuwait neg­a­tively. There are many re­ally great em­ploy­ers here who abide by the law and un­der­stand that their em­ploy­ees are the com­pany’s biggest as­sets. As a writer though, I feel the need to fo­cus on such is­sues in order to pro­vide my read­ers with aware­ness on the topic, should they go through a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in the fu­ture. I hope the ques­tions and an­swers be­low help.

Keep­ing the pass­port

My boss took my pass­port away claim­ing that she needed it to renew my res­i­dency. My res­i­dency was about to ex­pire, but she has kept it for three months now, and I doubt that it takes that long to renew an iqama. Can you shed some light on the is­sue? What can I do?

Fa­jer: I know this is a tough sit­u­a­tion to be in. It is like a catch 22 sit­u­a­tion - on one hand you need to renew your res­i­dency. On the other, you don’t want to pro­vide your boss with your pass­port. Just to make things clear to you, re­newal of visa should not take longer than a few days, if not just a day. It def­i­nitely does not take months. It could be that your em­ployer has is­sues at the Shuoon (Min­istry of So­cial and La­bor Af­fairs) for pre­vi­ous vi­o­la­tions, but if this is the case, she shouldn’t keep the pass­port with her.

Un­for­tu­nately, a lot of com­pa­nies have been us­ing re­newal of res­i­dency as an ex­cuse to keep pass­ports. I would highly suggest that you get your em­ployer to email you or pro­vide you with a writ­ten doc­u­ment stat­ing that they are with­hold­ing your pass­port for res­i­dency re­newal and to write how long they have with­held your pass­port for.

Ques­tion: My pass­port is with my em­ployer and he doesn’t want to give it back. Can I call my em­bassy? Are they re­spon­si­ble by law?

Fa­jer: Dif­fer­ent coun­tries have dif­fer­ent laws, so there­fore dif­fer­ent em­bassies have dif­fer­ent poli­cies. It wouldn’t hurt to call them though. Some em­bassies will pro­vide you with the names of lawyers, or will get in­volved in pass­port cases be­cause the pass­ports are the prop­erty of the coun­try as well. It is best to call them and check.

Ques­tion: My res­i­dency has ex­pired but I need to file a com­plaint against my pre­vi­ous em­ployer for hold­ing my pass­port. Can I go to the Shuoon (Min­istry of So­cial Af­fairs and La­bor)? I am afraid to leave the house with an ex­pired res­i­dency - I do not want to get de­ported.

Fa­jer: Hav­ing an ex­pired res­i­dency is a clear vi­o­la­tion of Kuwaiti law and could eas­ily get you de­ported. But there are ex­cep­tions to this rule, one of them be­ing if you have a com­plaint at the Shuoon. If you file a com­plaint at Shuoon for not hav­ing your pass­port and then your res­i­dency ex­pires, you can­not get de­ported as you have an on­go­ing case.

Ques­tion: I need your help be­cause I re­ally need my pass­port, but I am afraid to file a com­plaint at the Shuoon. I am also afraid to come to your of­fice. Can you help?

Fa­jer: Un­for­tu­nately, if I do not have a power of at­tor­ney on your be­half, I can­not help you. Also, I will need to go to Shuoon to ob­tain your pass­port. I do not have ac­cess to other means. I may be able to call your em­ployer and try to ne­go­ti­ate on your be­half, but I will need a power of at­tor­ney. It is an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment that gives me the right to speak on your be­half and de­fend you. I know that if you or I go to the Shuoon, it may cause you some is­sues as your boss may be ag­gres­sive to­wards you at work, and as sad as this sounds, it will not be sim­ple. If you are fil­ing a com­plaint against your em­ploy­ers, they will have the power to make your work dif­fi­cult, so it is best to dis­cuss things first and think things through. I al­ways suggest to try re­solv­ing things am­i­ca­bly first.

For any le­gal ques­tions or queries, email ask@fa­jerthelawyer.com.

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