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Envoy urges Pinoys to take advantage of amnesty

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro O Villa during an interview
Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro O Villa during an interview

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 16: The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait urged all its undocumented nationals or those who have been overstaying in the country with expired residence visa to come forward and avail the amnesty announced by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) on January 10 for all residence violators.

The amnesty that was announced last week will allow all residence violators to pay their fines to legalise their status or leave the country without being blacklisted and can come back again. The fine for overstaying is KD 2 per day and capped at a maximum of KD 600 for those who have overstayed for more than six months.

Philippine embassy officials led by Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro O Villa met this week with MOI officials to discuss the amnesty guidelines to be cascaded to undocumented Filipinos. “If you have overstayed and have found a new employer, you just have to pay the overstay penalty with the maximum amount of KD600 for over six months of expired visa or KD2 per day for less than six months. After paying the fine and clearing your status then you can transfer to the new employer.

In case you want to go home and come back, you have to pay the penalty. Otherwise, non-payment of penalty will ban you from entering Kuwait and the ban may even extend to other GCC countries,” explained Villa. He disclosed that despite the amnesty announcement, the ongoing mass repatriation of overstaying Filipinos under the Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program (AVRP) by the Kuwait government in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait continues.

The Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program, a mutual agreement signed between the Kuwait government and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait seeks to address the rising number of illegal expatriates in Kuwait. Under the AVRP, undocumented OFWs do not have to pass through the ‘Talha’ or deportation centre but will be transported from the embassy shelter in Hateen directly to the airport, however, those who will go home under the AVRP cannot come back to Kuwait anymore whereas those who will avail the amnesty and pay the penalty can still come back.

Most of the undocumented OFWs worked as Household Service Workers (HSWs) who left their employers after experiencing various forms of maltreatment such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, non-payment of salaries, lack of food and overwork. Currently, there are around 400 distressed HSWs who are staying at the embassy shelters in Hateen and Faiha who are awaiting repatriation, aside from those undocumented living outside.

There are around 200,000 Overseas Filipino Workers in Kuwait. “During our meeting with the MOI officials, we have submitted a request to them if they can possibly send some police officers to conduct the fingerprinting procedure at the embassy premises to expedite the repatriation process of the wards.

Hopefully, they will approve our request and we will know it by next week,” stated Villa. He thanked the MOI officials for their utmost cooperation. Meanwhile, in line with the amnesty, Philippine Consul General Raul Dado issued some guidelines for undocumented Filipinos who want to avail the amnesty and posted these guidelines on his Facebook account:

1. Renew your passports and apply for travel documents if necessary

2. If your visas are expired and you are overstaying, or have absconding cases,

3. Pay the usual fine at the immigration offices where you live. ( overstaying for six months or more: KD 600/overstaying less than 6 months: KD 2 a day). Tell the immigration office that you are availing of the amnesty

4. Afterwards you can stay in Kuwait with a new sponsor (legalised), or :

5. You may also go home to the Philippines and come back later to Kuwait to work

6. There will be no ban on returning But if the fine is not paid, there will be a ban on returning

7. The basic principle is: pay the usual fine, stay in Kuwait or go home and return ( “pay, stay, or go and return”)

8. The fines are currently required by Kuwait law

9. The embassy is trying to negotiate the waiver of fines, but for the meantime, these will still be imposed by the Kuwait government

For further inquiries, please visit the consular section of the embassy, or the embassy legal desk. Or for now: send sms to this number: 69331845, please text and will text back.

Amnesty hotlines will be ready next week. “Before paying the fine on overstaying, you may please see us at the embassy for advice on how to pay the fine at the immigration office in your place of residence.

This also applies if you have absconding cases. Please go to the consular section, or the embassy legal desk,” reiterated Dado.

By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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