FAMILY VISA REFUGE FOR OVER-60 HIGHSCHOOLERS
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 19, (Agencies): Kuwait’s Cabinet ministers have put in place an intricate plan to bring back the country’s domestic workers, whose livelihoods were upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Amid an extraordinary meeting held via video link on Thursday, chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Cabinet approved the “urgent completion” of a two-phased approach that would set in motion the return of domestic workers from abroad, as outlined by Kuwait’s aviation regulator chief Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah.
In line with established health protocols, all domestic workers are required to self isolate for a 15-day period at a designated quarantine facility upon their return to the country, he emphasized, revealing that the first part of the plan deals with travel procedures mandating a domestic worker’s sponsor to submit a request online for the return of the servant in question The remainder of the plan relates to the financial expenses needed to facilitate the return of the domestic worker, which include costs for food, transportation and accommodation, he explained.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah updated the Cabinet on the coronavirus pandemic, pointing out that some 56.2 million people had contracted the virus globally, while more than 1,349,000 have died. In terms of local statistics, the minister alluded to an uptick in COVID-19 related-deaths, adding that the number of intensive care patients hospitalized with the virus has stabilized.
The Cabinet has also agreed, pending His Highness the Amir’s approval, to assign retired Lieutenant General Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as deputy chief of Kuwait’s National Guard. Over the past few days the Kuwaiti authorities upon instructions from the health authorities has opened the country stage by stage as the country limps back towards normalcy.
However, people from 34 countries are still covered by the ban – India, Iran, China, Brazil, Columbia, Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Syria, Spain, Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Italy, North Macedonia, Moldova, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Montenegro, Dominican Republic and Kosovo – but the authorities have put in place a plan that will allow domestic workers from these countries to return to Kuwait.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had several repercussions on the country and the world at large, reports Al-Rai daily. The daily added, after the coronavirus disrupted life, 147,000 expatriates who are outside the country have their residence permits expired and tens of thousands have returned to their respective countries while official figures obtained by the daily show at the moment 2.65 million expatriates currently reside in the country which was estimated at 3.3 million before the corona crisis.
Informed sources told the daily that “the total number of residents who hold valid residence permits and are still outside the country is about 365,000.
The statistics showed the number of residents in the country decreased in the past few months, because of the coronavirus crisis. After the departure of many and the expiry of the residence permits of many expatriates who were outside the country, the number of those holding valid residence permits reached 2.65 million.
The sources indicated that “the number of residence violators reached about 132,000,” and of these “at least 40,000 will initiate processes to amend their status, and take advantage of the deadline granted by the Ministry of the Interior to them from Dec 1 to Dec 31.”
In the meantime, the sources pointed out that the Ministry of Interior and the Public Authority for Manpower are looking for a mechanism to find a solution to disputes between workers and sponsors, and have come up with specific recommendations that lead to the lifting of (the block) for the expatriate who is reported absent by the sponsors, after it became clear that thousands of violators have legal problems with their sponsors, and which will constitute an obstacle for them to change their situation or leave the country. While suggesting that the issue is expected to be resolved within the next few days, the sources indicated that “the residence affairs departments in the governorates will work during the morning and evening periods to facilitate the procedures of those who wish to amend their status and benefit from the decision deadline of Dec 31, 2020.
As the decision to ban the issuance of work permits for those who are 60 years of age and above for those holding a high school certificate or below comes into force at the beginning of next year, it seems the only option for thousands of residents of this category will be to transfer their work visa to family visa, reports Al-Rai daily. Director General of the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) Ahmad Al-Mousa said, “The authority is proceeding with the implementation of the decision. It has set a time period to make the administrative arrangements for the target group covered by the decision to amend their legal status, as the decision will not be applied on them until after the end of their residency in 2021.
This applies to those with work permits that will remain in effect after the implementation of the decision from Jan 1, 2021 until their expiry date after which they will not be renewed. However, this decision does not prevent this segment from modifying their legal status in accordance with the rest of the articles related to residency, such as residency of a partner or family visa, and others. Also, this decision does not include exceptions from the application of its provisions.”
He indicated that this decision was issued after a thorough study by PAM according to the available statistics, as it targeted a specific segment of those who hold high school certificates or less, and the group that does not have any qualification.
Al-Mousa stressed that the decision does not include expatriate workers who hold a post-secondary diploma or something with higher qualifications, adding that this decision is in line with PAM’s inclination towards the classification of professions in light of the powers granted to it in this regard, as the target group of the decision works with activities and professions that are not compatible with the adoption of different skills and professions. Al-Mousa said, “The decision does not prevent the segment of those over 60 years of age from amending their legal status, according to the rest of the articles related to residency, such as residency of a partner or family visa, etc”.
He touched on the details, grounds and the basis of the decision, saying, “PAM issued its administrative Decision No. 520/2020, amending administrative Resolution No. 552/2018 for the issuance of a list of rules and procedures for granting work permits, prohibiting the issuance of work permit for those who reach the age of 60 years and above if they hold general secondary school certificate and below and the equivalent certificates. This decision shall come into effect from Jan 1, 2021”.
Regarding the transfer from family visa to the private sector work visa, Al-Mousa said, “The commission issued its administrative Decision No. 529/2020, amending the administrative Resolution No. 842/2015 regarding the conditions for the transfer of workers from one employer to another.