Attorney Fajer Ahmed

In the past few months, there have been a lot of new regulations concerning visa and entry requirements for expats in Kuwait. There have been changes in a few issues such as visa fees, transfer of sponsors and contractors for the government. I will focus in today's article on the issuance of work visas and the changes that have been going on.

Disclaimer: I am deliberately using simplified words in my articles (that might necessarily not be legally correct) in order for the general public to understand the concepts I am discussing. If you are confused as an employee, realize that it is normal to be so, as I have been working with multiple companies so far that are confused themselves on how to issue visas for their employees. Everyone needs time to understand the adjustments.

Question: I am about to come to Kuwait for the first time. I will be working with a big company - is there anything I need to watch out for?

Fajer: Yes, you should be very wary when you come to Kuwait. First of all, and this goes without saying, do not sign anything in Arabic unless there is a translation alongside the document. Make sure your visa/work permit has your right amount of salary and your right job position and academic qualification, otherwise you will have difficulties when you resign or when you want to transfer visas. So please read your visa and work permit carefully (I know they are in Arabic, so get someone to translate). This is also very important when it comes to salary increases as the new decisions put a cap on salary increases for every year or two years, depending on the contract type.

Sponsor change's fee

Question: I have been hearing that if I change my sponsor, I will need to pay a fee - is this correct?

Fajer: Yes, according to the newest decision A/57/2016 issued by the minister of social affairs and labor, there are different fees for different visas as follows:

1. KD 200

* for transferring from an expired government contract (one that ended), to another government contract with the same employer.

2. KD 300

* for transferring from an expired government contract or a valid government contract to another government contract with a different employer.

* if an employee comes to Kuwait on a government visa and then transfers to the private sector, and hasn't completed one year since the transfer, he can transfer back to the government with a KD 300 fee.

* if an employee comes to Kuwait as a domestic worker and then transfers to the private sector, and hasn't completed three years since the transfer, he can transfer back to the domestic sector for a KD 300 fee.

3. KD 350

* for transferring the work permit of an employee under a government contract to the main file of the same employer.

Absconding employees

Question: Are there any changes for absconding employees with the new ministry regulations? I was working for a company and the work conditions were harsh, so I submitted my resignation and left. Now I have a case against me and therefore I cannot transfer to another employer. What can I do?

Fajer: Yes, there are new ministerial regulations regarding employment issues in general, and have touched up on regulations for those accused of absconding.

I highly advise that employees who are not receiving their salaries, or are being overworked or are not being treated well to go to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and file a complaint, but not leave their work environment, as an absconding case will cause more issues. Also, if you submit a resignation, make sure it is accepted!

The new regulations require a department at the ministry to go and check if the employee has really absconded from work by visiting his workplace. This can be a very tricky situation, if the employees have already submitted resignations or left because of harsh work environments.

I hope the above helped and please do not hesitate to email me with any concerns.

For any legal questions or queries, email [email protected].

By Attorney Fajer Ahmed