By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The interior ministry yesterday announced a one-month amnesty for expats living illegally in the country, offering them an opportunity to legalize their stay or leave the country after paying fines. The ministry also asked all expats living in the country on temporary visas, which have been automatically extended until Nov 30, to legalize their stay in the country by obtaining residency or leave Kuwait before Nov 30.

This is the second amnesty offered by the interior ministry to illegal expats, estimated at around 150,000 people. In the first amnesty a few months ago, illegals were allowed to leave the country without paying fines and with a free air ticket. Authorities said around 30,000 expats of various nationalities benefited from the amnesty.

The latest amnesty applies to expats who have been living illegally in the country before Jan 1, 2020. The decision by the interior ministry states that illegal expats desiring to legalize their stay in the country should visit the residency affairs department between Dec 1 and 31 and pay the required fines. The residency will be granted based on regulations and conditions.

Illegal expats who wish to leave the country should visit the residency department and pay the required fines. They will then be granted a certain period to leave the country and will be allowed to return to Kuwait. Illegals who fail to legalize their status or leave the country within the stipulated period will be subjected to legal measures, deported from Kuwait and barred from returning.

Under the new decision, holders of temporary residencies (article 14) should either leave the country or legalize their stay before Nov 30 this year. They can legalize their stay by obtaining residency based on applicable rules and regulations. Those who fail to leave or legalize their stay will be considered as visa violators and legal measures will be taken against them, according to the interior ministry.

In a related development, the appeals court yesterday sentenced an interior ministry colonel and seven Egyptian co-workers to three years in jail after convicting them of trafficking in persons. The colonel was accused of establishing a fake company, and with the help of the Egyptians, recruiting dozens of workers for money without providing them with jobs. This is one of the largest trafficking in persons cases to be handled by Kuwaiti courts. The convicts were arrested several months ago during a crackdown on visa trading by authorities.