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Kuwait to stop transfer of visit visas to work permits from 1st April

Kuwait plans to reduce the expatriate numbers in the country by half over the next decade.

The Social Affairs and Labour Minister, Thikra Al-Rashidi, mentioned that Kuwait is taking necessary measures to reduce the foreign worker numbers by 100,000 annually.

Such a move aims to restore the demographic equilibrium in Kuwait, bringing down the total number of expatriate workers to only one million in 10 years, Al-Rashidi said.

At present about two million expatriates, majority being Asians, are in the construction and service sectors, live in Kuwait, and the total population is estimated to be about three million.

A major step in this direction will be implemented on 1st April, when transfer of all forms of visit visas into work permits will be suspended. However, foreigners whose applications have been already approved will not be affected by the decision.

Al-Rashidi said that hiring workers would be restricted to Kuwaitis and other GCC people, and that the recruitment would be from locally available pool. A special inspection team had been formed to ensure that employers remain committed to private sector regulations.

The GCC constitutes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates. These nations have been depending on foreign workforce, particularly in the booming construction sector, menial work and services.

Several attempts by the Labour Ministers to cap the presence of expatriates citing security and unemployment-related concerns were earlier stopped by powerful business communities that warned of possible economic collapse.

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