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Kuwait lawmaker proposes 20-year expat residency cap

In a recent move, a lawmaker in Kuwait has proposed a 20-year cap on expat residency in Kuwait. No foreigner in skilled or unskilled occupations should be permitted to remain in Kuwait beyond the age of 50, and the proportion of each expat community should be capped at 15 percent of Kuwaiti population, he claimed.

However, those who are in skilled jobs, including doctors, advisers and university professors can stay until the age of 70, said MP Abdullah Al Tamimi.

The suggestions form part of a draft law that the lawmaker is presenting to Parliament to address the demographic imbalances and the presence of a massive, marginalized labour force in the country.

Kuwait is home to about 2.8million foreigners, comprising mainly of unskilled Asian labourer in the construction sector and domestic helps, who account for more than two-third of total population.

According to Al Tamimi proposal, a residency cap should be imposed on all expats working in the country. The residency should be a maximum of ten years, which can be renewed just once, under strict conditions, which imply that no foreigner can stay in Kuwait for more than 20 years.

Earlier too, Al Tamimi had submitted a similar draft law to control the growth of demographic tendencies in the country, and he expected parliament to accept the proposal.

The lawmaker said that no expat community should be allowed to exceed 15 percent of Kuwait population, which currently stands at 1.2million.

The proposal, if implemented, would affect the Indian community, which is the largest in the country (700,000 people), followed by Egyptian community (500,000) and Bangladeshi nationals (200,000).

All legislative committee in the Parliament and all competent authorities in the interior and defence ministries have been urged to study the proposal and refer it to the Parliament for voting, Al Tamimi said.

Kuwaiti officials have been pushing for an overhaul of residency system to limit the number of expats. In June last year, the social affairs and labour minister said that Kuwait has all rights to safeguard its demographic composition.

Due to the presence of a marginalized labour force and to preserve the country’s demographic composition, it is our right as a state to address the demographic imbalance, said Dhikra al Rashidi, who also had plans to reduce foreign presence in the country by 100,000 annually for ten years.

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