Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Continued Efforts to Deal with Expats in Kuwait

93,000 illegals in Kuwait?

Minimum wage KD500 for Dependency Visa?

Forced retirements?

During my years in Kuwait, I saw many sorry situations. It doesn’t matter where you are on the social scale, if you are not Kuwaiti, you are expat labor. When management, for whatever reason, wants you to go, you go. People who have lived in Kuwait 50 years, who are elderly, sent home, and sent home quickly, barely time to sell what you can’t take with you, people who have had a health setback and can’t work anymore, handed their papers and told their visas will no longer be valid in 30 days.

There is no point in romanticizing your position. You’re hired help. You think you have friends, but your friends are not going to help you live out your days and die in Kuwait. When your usefulness is over, they want you gone.

We often had to get special permission to bring in professional workers for critical jobs who were over – or even approaching – 60 years old. Long-in-the-tooth is not a highly valued characteristic for imported labor.

Have an exit strategy.

illegals10
The Kuwait Times title for this photo is “Illegals”

Embassies push for deportees’ rights – KD500 minimum wage proposed for dependency visa

From 30 May 2013 Kuwait Times:

KUWAIT: Two Asian embassies complained to Kuwaiti officials about the “arbitrary actions” taken during the deportation of illegal residents and lawbreakers, who were arrested in a series of crackdowns over the past few weeks across the country, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting sources with knowledge of the case.

Nearly 1,260 people of Arab and Asian nationalities have been deported since Kuwait launched crackdowns on traffic violators late last month. The General Traffic Department stated that deportation was enforced in cases of repeat offenders.

Thousands of others have been detained in simultaneous crackdowns targeting people with expired visas or those working in violation of labor regulations. But according to a report published yesterday by Al-Qabas daily, the Ministry of Interior received complaints from the embassies of India and Bangladesh, regarding the swift deportation of a large number of their nationals without them getting the opportunity to receive what they were owed from their employers.

The sources, who spoke to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, said many of the deportees were sent back home through the use of travel documents released by their respective embassies, instead of their original passports that, in most cases, are kept by their sponsors. “The Indian and Bangladeshi embassies are currently taking legal recourse to secure the rights of the deported nationals, including their original passports”, the sources said.

Many expatriates arrested during the recent traffic crackdowns reportedly remain in custody, as their respective embassies refuse to grant authorities travel documents on the grounds that their visas are still valid. In that regard, the sources revealed the ministry had been trying to reach the employers in order to retrieve the passports of the soon-to-be-deported expatriates.

Meanwhile, a senior Interior Ministry official defended Kuwait’s right to deport illegal residents or foreigners who break the law. “It is the right of every country to deport expatriates who violate its residency laws or its laws in general, or take legal action against them, in order to maintain safety and security, in line with human rights principles,” Assistant Director of the ministry’s General Training Department, Brigadier General Adel Al-Saadoun, was quoted by Al-Jarida yesterday. He made these comments at a workshop on Tuesday, organized by the International Organization for Migration office in Kuwait.

In other news, Undersecretary Assistant for Citizenship and Passports Affairs, Major General Sheikh Faisal Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, during a meeting with directors of migration departments in Kuwait, called for “tougher procedures” with regard to the issuance of visitor visas, so marginal labourers would not be able to gain access into the country.

He made the demand amid a discussion on efforts to address Kuwait’s demographic imbalance, which senior ministry officials described as “a main duty” for his department. “Maj Gen Al-Sabah told the directors that labor forces in countries having internal struggles should not be able to move to Kuwait, and that Kuwait should not become a shelter for them and their problems,” said sources quoted in an Al-Rai report yesterday.

Nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen are currently banned from obtaining visas to work in or visit Kuwait. In that regard, Maj Gen Al-Sabah said the lifting of the ban on them in the future must be coupled with controls to regulate their entrance and prevent the country’s demographic imbalance from getting worse, said the sources, who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity.

The meeting also discussed other suggestions aimed at reducing the number of expatriate workers in Kuwait, including Maj Gen Al-Sabah’s intentions to “prepare a memorandum about the benefits of raising the minimum cap for foreigners applying for dependency visas for relatives”. Currently, such visas can be obtained as long as a supporter earns a minimum of KD250 a month, but the Undersecretary Assistant reportedly suggested during the meeting that the cap be raised to KD500.

“Maj Gen Al-Sabah questioned the capability of a man who receives KD250 a month to meet the educational, health and living requirements of a family with children,” the sources explained. They added that the senior official also plans to refer a letter to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, recommending that it suspend issuing work visas to holders of commercial visit visas.

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rashidi announced two months ago a plan to deport 100,000 foreigners every year, as part of a strategy to reduce the number of expatriates in the Gulf state by one million over a period of 10 years. Criticism sparked by the lack of details about the proposed plan prompted the minister to later clarify that the plan targeted illegal residents, whose numbers have reached 93,000, as per official statistics released last year. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who account for 68 percent of the country’s total population of 3.8 million.

Meanwhile, minister Al-Rashidi released an order – with effect from July 1, 2013 – to terminate the services of expatriate employees who have worked for at least 30 years in the Social Affairs and Labor Ministry. According to sources familiar with the issue, the ministry has already started the process to end the services of nearly 70 foreigners by the beginning of July. The decision is in accordance with a government plan that requires forcing Kuwaitis who have held government posts for 30 years, including senior officials, into retirement. According to official statistics, published by Al-Qabas yesterday, 138 senior officials, including 11 women, will be subjected to this regulation. – Al-Qabas, Al-Jarida & Al-Rai

In a related article, measures are gaining support for withdrawing Kuwait citizenship from naturalized citizens for different reasons; below another article from the 30 May 2013 Kuwait Times Foreign spouses married to Kuwaitis watch these developments with trepidation.

MPs want citizenship revoked for breaching security – Long-time employees won’t be forced out

KUWAIT: A number of MPs yesterday proposed that Kuwaiti nationality should be withdrawn from naturalized Kuwaitis who abuse the country’s internal security or insult the country’s figures. The lawmakers also proposed that all benefits given to the naturalized person proven to have breached national security should be withdrawn and this measure should include withdrawing the citizenship of other people who gained the citizenship as a result of naturalizing that person. The proposal also suggests that people who applied for Kuwaiti citizenships and carried out similar offenses should have their applications rejected even if they fulfilled all the conditions for nationality.

To become effective, the proposal must be adopted by the concerned Assembly committees, mainly the legal and legislative and the interior and defense committees and then passed by the National Assembly and eventually accepted by the government. The proposal comes amid protests by opposition activists and former MPs and a crackdown on opposition tweeters – several of whom have received jail terms on charges of insulting the Amir. Meanwhile, MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan yesterday asked Justice Minister Sharida Al-Meosharji about implementing a law passed a few months ago to establish the Anti-Corruption Authority. Besides the corruption authority, the legislation also calls for wealth disclosure of ministers, MPs and top government officials. Duwaisan asked the minister about the steps that have been taken to implement the law and the obstacles facing it.

MP Yacoub Al-Sane said yesterday that he was informed by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Sabah that top bureaucrats who served 30 years and above will not be forced to resign as has been published. The lawmaker said he told the premier that forcing such top officials to step down is “unconstitutional” and the prime minister replied that the government will not force them to resign but will grant them incentives and benefits to encourage them to resign. In the meantime, MP Saud Al- Huraiji questioned Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali about the charges collected from expatriates for the health insurance scheme and other charges since applying the law in 1999. Huraiji said that he learned that KD522 million have been collected since that year but the ministry of finance has failed to utilize the funds in proper channels. He asked the minister if the ministry has any plan to spend the funds in the right way.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

‘Hundreds’ deported for traffic offences

KUWAIT: Kuwait has deported hundreds of expats for traffic offences in the past month, a report said yesterday, drawing condemnation from a human rights group.

The Al-Anbaa newspaper cited a senior interior ministry official as saying that as many as 1,258 foreigners have been deported for traffic violations since a crackdown began about a month ago.

Foreign residents caught driving without a licence, using their cars to carry paying passengers, jumping a red light for a second time, or breaking the speed limit by more than 40 km per hour, can be deported without a court order. The Kuwait Society for Human Rights called on the government to halt the deportations describing them as “oppressive”. “The oppressive measure against expatriates… violates the basic principles of human rights,” it said.

The group warned that the measure could tarnish the state’s image abroad at a time when its human rights record is under scrutiny. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who form 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population.

Kuwaiti nationals who commit similar offences have their vehicles seized and can be sent to court. Last month, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Thekra Al-Rasheedi said the state plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by one million. She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.

Foreigners need to hold a university degree, earn KD 400 a month and have lived in Kuwait for at least two years to be eligible to apply for a driver’s licence, under a decision issued nearly a decade ago. —AFP

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May 30, 2013 - Posted by | Aging, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, Qatar, Social Issues, Values, Work Related Issues | , , ,

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