Attorney Fajer Ahmed
Attorney Fajer Ahmed

Many expats in Kuwait by now would have heard about the new amnesty decree. Amnesty by definition means "an official pardon for people who are convicted of an illegal offense, usually of a political nature." Visa violations are illegal offenses obviously, and therefore every country has the right to give these violators an amnesty or legal pardon. The Kuwaiti government has provided amnesties on multiple occasions in the last 10 years, providing people the chance to rectify their legal status.

I have written this at every chance that I could, and I will continue to make it clear - we are very lucky in Kuwait to be in such a diverse country with people from all walks of life coming together to build a society.

Question: How many days do I have to leave Kuwait and will I get punished for having an expired residency? Do I have to pay any fees, other than the daily fine? Will I be able to come back to Kuwait easily in the future?

Fajer: The amnesty period is between Jan 29 and Feb 22, so you have a few more weeks to leave Kuwait. I have understood there will be no criminal penalties or other punishments as it is opportunity for you to leave the country as a violator without paying a fine. Those who leave the country during the period mentioned above should be able to enter the country again on a new visa if they meet the visa regulations in Kuwait.

No passport

Question: My residency has expired and I do not have my passport, because my previous employer refuses to give it to me. I have a case against him, but I want to leave now that there is an amnesty. What can I do?

Fajer: If you do not have your passport, the best thing you can do is to contact your embassy in Kuwait, or if your country does not have an embassy in Kuwait, contact your embassy in the closest country to Kuwait. They can give you a temporary document to travel back to your country, where you should be able to obtain a new passport.

You can give a power of attorney to a lawyer to represent you in your case in Kuwait after you leave. It will be important though for you to discuss a few issues before leaving though. For example, if your lawyer will have the right to obtain money on your behalf or not.

Absconding case

Question: I have been working as a domestic worker, and a few years ago, I fled the house of my employer. I now have an absconding case against me. Do I have the right to travel?

Fajer: You should be allowed to travel even if there is an absconding case against you, as long as the case was filed after Jan 4, 2016. This is for all visa types regardless if you worked as a domestic worker or for a company in the private sector.

I would say that it should be really safe for you to leave Kuwait at this time, and I highly suggest that you make sure that your status is legal as soon as possible if you want to continue living in Kuwait. Please make sure though that you check if you have any other fines or any criminal cases against you, so that you are aware of all your responsibilities and obligations.

I hope the above helped. If you have a concern, please email us at [email protected]

By Attorney Fajer Ahmed