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KUWAIT CITY, July 31: With the suspension of family and tourist visit visas, and the massive oversight and follow-up on the visa trade phenomenon, especially after international reports on human trafficking in Kuwait and the drop in the returns of visa traders, the latter have now presented a new product in the market to secure “cash flow” and financial returns during these “hard times” to offer the product, which is commercial visit visas.
In the market of visa trade in Kuwait, the price of a commercial visit visa ranges between KD 400 and KD 600. This comes with the risks of some people looking for hope of working in Kuwait and earning a better living after enduring difficult times in most of the countries of the region. They take these risks despite the conditions of receiving a visa that allows them to work only in the company that brought them to Kuwait.
Faced with this reality, citizens and expatriates, through the daily, demanded the need to hold accountable the companies that trade commercial visit visas, especially since they are selling “illusion to the weak”.
In this regard, a Kuwaiti citizen Haitham Al-Sadiq stressed the need to legalize commercial visit visas in order to preserve Kuwait’s reputation, especially since the percentage of those who use these visas to get work does not exceed five percent while the remaining 95 percent return to their countries disappointed without anyone daring to file a complaint.
Another Kuwaiti citizen Jamaan Al-Shammari explained that the companies that trade in commercial visit visas openly defraud those who are desperate to come to Kuwait to work. They sell commercial visit visas to them at a price ranging between KD 350 and KD 600. There are companies that get a higher value even though they realize the difficulty in transferring a commercial visit visa to a work visa.
This reality forces such a person to either pay KD 2,000 for obtaining a work permit that is valid for a year or return to his country. Hence, commercial visit visas have become one of the types of visa trade.
Ali Al-Sharhan, an official of a private company, explained that the swindling using commercial visit visas is carried out between the owner of the company and his employees of Arab nationalities. These employees are used to trap their countrymen using commercial visit visas, which cannot be transferred except to the same establishment to which the visa was issued.
The brokers of commercial visit visas are delegates of Arab nationalities who work for a commission for the benefit of the companies dealing with the visa trade.
Furthermore, Hussam Abu Al-Feda explained that he entered Kuwait years ago using a commercial visit visa and paid a broker KD 450 before coming to the country.
Although this broker was from his family, he deceived him, as he assured him before his arrival in the country that companies would fight to employ him. This happened despite the broker’s full awareness that such a visa cannot be transferred except to the same company or organization that brought him to Kuwait.
The total cost of the commercial visit visa, airline tickets, accommodation and transportation was not less than KD 800. If he was aware of the truth of the matter, he would have paid KD 2,000 to obtain a free visa (self-sponsored visa) without entering the country on a commercial visit visa.
He returned to Kuwait by applying for work through a restaurant company back in his home country, and the visa reached him free of charge.
Furthermore, Ramadan Fathi stated that his relative entered Kuwait on a commercial visit visa and did not realize that the company that brought him would give him a choice between paying the value of a one-year residence permit worth KD 1,700 or returning to where he came from.
He wondered why such facts are not made clear to people before they enter the country, revealing that he had to borrow from some of his relatives to book a flight ticket to return to his homeland.
As for the company’s representative Abu Raouf, he said the series of deception towards those wishing to travel to Kuwait on commercial visit visas continues. The companies that trade in residence permits take it as an opportunity for quick profit, but respectable companies do not practice this deception.
He said, “The theft and fraud of the desperate ones continue using trade of commercial visit visas. This phenomenon will not end unless companies that tarnish Kuwait’s reputation are held accountable. In fact, the number of companies that trade in residencies does not exceed three percent of the total companies operating in the private sector”.
An agent of a private company Jumaa Bayoumi explained that the companies that trade in residence permits subsist and profit in two ways – first by obtaining permission and a work visa, the price of which ranges between KD 1,800 to KD 2,100. The other way is using a commercial visit visa, the cost of which ranges between KD 400 and KD 650.
He said, “Those who enter the country using a work visa are more fortunate than those who entered Kuwait using a commercial or business visit visa.
Brokers have been deluding victims in a number of countries with the possibility of entering Kuwait using a commercial visit visa, and then disappearing. As seen in European countries, victims are promised that they are able to work in any profession, and that no one will ask about them. However, they come to realize that Kuwait is very developed in terms of security, and is geographically small due to which there is a permanent presence of government agencies that monitor work and patrols in all areas to control any violation related to residency.
Another company representative in the private sector Abu Bakr suggested that there should be a permanent joint committee between the Public Authority for Manpower and the Ministry of Interior so that a commercial visit visa is not granted to any company except according to a number of conditions that confirm the companies that bring in workers through the commercial visit visas are legit. However, the company must indicate that the visa is intended for testing the worker during a certain period of time before he is appointed in the company and his residence permit is printed. By Najeh Bilal, Al-Seyassah / Arab Times Staff