KUWAIT CITY, Jan 24: Statistics issued by the General Department of Immigration reveal that the number of residency violators as of 2016 reached 22,738 compared to 25,106 violators in 2015. This marks a decline in the number of violators of residency law.
Domestic workers (with visa No. 20) constitute majority of residency violators, as more than 52 percent of residency violators are domestic workers. They are followed in second place by employees of private sector under visa No.18 with 21 percent, and those with temporary visa of article No. 14 in third place with 19 percent.
Those on dependant visa of article No. 22 are in fourth place with seven percent followed by employees of the public sector (visa No. 17) with 0.5 percent. A number of expatriates and activists have urged residency violators to take advantage of the amnesty period set by Ministry of Interior from January 29 to February 22 to legalize their status or leave the country during this period. Most violators have been waiting for the amnesty for years, and their prayers have finally been answered.
Al Seyassah conducted interviews with a number of people around the country. They welcomed the amnesty offered by Ministry of Interior. Some of the interviewees are victims of visa trading and are mostly marginal workers. They stressed the need to punish visa traders, explaining that most of them had to sell all their belongings in order to make the dream of coming to Kuwait come true.
However, they arrived here only to find a horrible nightmare waiting for them as they soon realized upon their entry to Kuwait that they came through bogus companies. Atwa Zaki said the amnesty period set by Ministry of Interior is a wonderful step that will solve a lot of problems for residency violators. He explained that he is in violation of the residency law for the past six months because he does not have KD 900 to pay to his sponsor for the renewal of his residency. He is a mason working on a daily wage of KD 7, and he is forced to work even on Fridays and holidays in order to meet his expenses. With the little wages he earns, he manages to send about KD 45 to his family every month.
Zainhum Al-Najawi has been a violator of residency law for 18 months because of the closure of the file of the fictitious company through which he came to Kuwait. He explained that his sponsor took KD 650 from him and promised to renew his residency but his sponsor has not yet honored his promise based on the excuse that the company’s file has been closed.
The sponsor refused to return the money and Al-Najawi is unable to report his sponsor to the police because he is a violator of residency law. He manages to make a living by washing cars for a number of people, but he shares the monthly amount of KD 5 for each car with the building caretakers (haris).
Al-Najawi expressed his excitement about the amnesty through which he intends to leave Kuwait and return without problems.
Subhi Al-Badri affirmed that the amnesty is an excellent opportunity awaited by many violators of residency law. He wished Ministry of Interior could extend the period to three months because the process for legalizing status cannot be completed within a month for some of them, as it is too short a time period. Jalal Alassiouty said he will travel for good during the amnesty, as his health has deteriorated due to the nature of his work. He revealed that he has been in violation of the residency law for three months after the amount demanded by his bogus company, which is involved in visa trading, for renewal of residency increased from KD 600 to KD 1,000.
Ali Mansour said he works in a respectable company and earns around KD 450 each month without having to pay expenses for renewal of residency. He urged his fellow expatriates especially marginal workers to go back to their home country, as the circumstances in Kuwait have changed. Mansour said Kuwait as country has every right to get rid of unproductive workers and hold visa traders accountable.
Salah Al-Hussaini echoed Mansour’s sentiments, stressing on the survival of the fittest. He said, “Anyone who comes to Kuwait through a respectable company that fears God are treated humanely. On the other hand, those who come through the backdoor via visa traders, will find hell waiting for them as they will not be able to pay thousands of dinars for renewal of their residencies to fill the pockets of greedy visa traders”.
On his part, Chairman of Kuwait Union of Contracting Companies Dr. Salah Buresli said Ministry of Interior has looked into the issue of residency violators on humanitarian basis, which is evident from the issuance of the amnesty to give an opportunity to violators of residency law to either rectify their legal status or leave the country. He indicated, “Since most of the construction workers are in violation of the law, we as a union welcome this gesture by the ministry”.
By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff