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Kuwait Visa Information

Kuwait Employment Visa and Residence Visa

Visit visa holders are not allowed to work in Kuwait. A Residence Visa is a must for those interested in taking up jobs in Kuwait. All expatriates, other than GCC nationals, are required to have a Kuwait Residence Visa or Iqama to work in Kuwait. The three main types of Kuwait Residence Visas are domestic visa, work visa and dependent visa. All the three visas require a sponsor.

Kuwait Residence Visa – Work Visa procedure

Work Visas are Iqamas granted to public and private sector employees under Articles 17 and 18 of the immigration regulations. On accepting an employment offer, the procedure to obtain Kuwait Residence Visa on a Work Visa begins.

  • A Kuwaiti employer sponsor shall apply for work permit from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. The basic requirements for work permit are the employee's passport and No-objection Certificate (NOC) from the General Administration of Criminal Investigation at the Ministry of Interior
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait will send a copy of the work permit for endorsement, to the Kuwaiti Embassy in the country where the employee resides. The employer will also send a copy of the work permit to the employee to carry it with him/her to the embassy.
  • The employee should then apply for an entry visa for Kuwait. Employees for private sector companies require NOCs and a copy of employer's authorized signatory as registered for business purposes.
  • If the employee is already on a visit visa in Kuwait at the time of accepting the employment, he will have to leave Kuwait and return on the new entry visa. In fact, most nationalities will have to return to their own country for medical tests and endorsement from the country’s Kuwait Embassy, while westerners can plan for a one day round trip to Bahrain by flight.
  • To obtain a residence permit, it is necessary to complete a form (residency application) issued by the Interior Ministry and to get it attested by the sponsor. The residency and visa forms will also be available in Ministry’s website www.moi.gov.kw.
  • The employee will also have to undergo fingerprinting and medical check. The employee will then have to visit his/her local Passport Office and submit the completed application with the following documents
    • Work Permit from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour
    • NOC and copies
    • Copy of passport and passport photographs
    • Medical Certificate
    • Fingerprint and security clearance

The residency permit will then be issued. The residency will be for a maximum of five years. The cost of the visa is usually negotiated between employee and the sponsor in the case of private companies. On obtaining residency, the employee can register for a Civil ID card.

Renewal of Kuwait Residence Work Visa

When the initial residence visa expires, the expatriate will have to continue under the same sponsor if it has to be renewed. The process of renewal should begin two weeks ahead of the expiry of the current residence visa. The employee’s work permit will have to be renewed first with the Labour Ministry, before renewal of the residence application.

For renewal, the following documents need to be submitted:

  • The employee's passport and a copy of it
  • The renewed work permit
  • Copy of sponsor’s signature as required for business purposes

Usually, the sponsor himself or his official 'mandoub' (a representative whose job is to process the official paperwork of his company) will be present at the jawazaat to renew the employee's residence visa. If the employee wishes to do it himself, he will require an authorization letter from his sponsor that authorizes him to do so.

Temporary Residence Visa

The temporary residence visa permits is a different category of residence visas that permit a stay of up to one year. These are offered when an ordinary residence visa need not or cannot be obtained. Such visas are usually granted only to visitors with personal emergencies such as illnesses, or western businessmen who can obtain temporary residence without difficulty. Sometimes, temporary residence visas for just three months are also granted to immediate relatives of residents whose visit visas have expired. Such visas are also sometimes granted to expats who have resigned from their jobs, but need to stay in Kuwait for some time to settle their financial issues or a court case. Such visa is automatically cancelled when the holder leaves Kuwait.

Note: The visa regulations are often subject to change and hence, it is recommended that you check the latest updates from your local visa section of the Kuwait Embassy in the country when you currently reside.

Very recently, a Supreme Council report in Kuwait revealed that Kuwaiti work visas may soon require to be vetted by five separate government departments, as part of plan to reduce the expat workers and fake visa complications in the State.

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