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Kuwait may grant amnesty to illegal expats early next year

Kuwait plans to grant an amnesty to illegal expatriates early next year. This is the first time in three years that Kuwait plans to do so, following similar amnesty rolled out in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

During the amnesty period, expats living illegally in Kuwait will have the option to legalize their status by paying fines, or leave the country without paying fines, failing which, they run the risk of being blacklisted.

Senior officials in Kuwait have begun thinking of the idea of an amnesty period, following database records towards the year-end, as there are around 100,000 visa violators in Kuwait.

No specific details about the duration of amnesty period have been given till now. About 42,000 expats living illegally in Kuwait had benefitted from a four-month amnesty period which ended on 30th June 2011, the Interior Ministry said.

Thousands of expatriates are brought into Kuwait each year, with false job promises only to find that no such job exists.

Kuwait is home to 2.7mn expatriates, accounting for 68 percent of the total 3.9mn population in the country. The annual population growth rate in Kuwait is nearly 2 percent.

Recently, in a bid to restore demographic balance in Kuwait, the Minister of Socia Affairs and Labour, Thekra Al-Rashidi announced a plan to deport 100,000 foreigners each year, as part of a scheme to cut the country’s expat population by one million within a decade.

No detailed explanations were given for the implementation of the plan, but, the Minister identified expats living illegally as the main target.

Demographic imbalance is a main concern in Kuwait, and is often the cause of debate in issues concerning housing, traffic crisis, subsidies and unemployment in Kuwait.

Kuwait is home to an estimated population of 100,000 stateless Arabs or ‘bedoons’ who live without a nationality and claim citizenship of what they describe as the country of their birth.

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