The Kuwait government’s legal body, the Fatwa and Legislation Department, has scrapped off their earlier decision to ban expats aged 60 and above, without university degrees, from renewing their work permits. Therefore, older residents belonging to this category can now renew their work permits and residencies as usual.
The Head of Fatwa Department Salah Al-Mesad said that the earlier ban decision came from an unauthorized official, and hence, is null and void.
The decision issued by Director General of Public Authority for Manpower last year, said that residents over the age of 60 years, who do not possess university degrees will not be able to renew their work permits, which is a precondition for renewing residencies.
However, this decision affects thousands of expats who have already spent most part of their lives in Kuwait. The decision was harshly criticized by several MPs and local human rights bodies and considered as “inhumane”, and repeatedly called on the government to cancel it.
However, this was considered as a way to reduce the expat population, which constitute about 70 percent of Kuwait’s total population of 4.5mn.
About two weeks ago, the Minister of Commerce and Industry sent a letter to Fatwa department, urging for a legal viewpoint on the validity and legality of the decision.
The department responded with the message that the decision issued was by unauthorized personnel, as decisions regarding work permit regulations should only be issued by Board of Directors of manpower authority, chaired by the minister himself. It further added that Mousa, the Director General is not authorized to issue such decisions, and hence, it is considered illegal and does not hold legal status.
The ruling also implies that procedures regarding issuance and renewal of work permits for expats will continue to be the way they used to be before the decision was issued 14 months ago.
However, before moving back to regular procedures, the Commerce Minister should issue an official decision to scrap the old decision as a formality.