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Kuwait Visa Information

Kuwait Employment Visa and Residence Visa

To live in Kuwait, expatriates and other GCC nationals should possess a Kuwait Residence Visa or ‘Iqama’. Visit visa holders are not allowed to work in Kuwait. Therefore, a Residence Visa is a ‘must’ for those planning to take up jobs in Kuwait.

The three main types of Kuwait Residence Visas are:

  • Work Visa
  • Dependent Visa (Family Visa)
  • Domestic Visa

All these three visas actually require a sponsor. An expatriate can sponsor his own residence, with or without allowing to work, as long as he lives in Kuwait for a long time and has ample financial means.

Kuwait Work Visa

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

Requirement for Work Permit:

  • 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 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.

Note: Effective 2018, Kuwait’s Manpower Authority has issued an administrative decision banning recruitment of expats under thirty years of age. The applicant falling under this category is required to check with concerned authorities before processing the visa.

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