This week the spotlight is on immigration developments across the GCC. According to local media reports in Kuwait, a cap on expatriates is being considered by the country’s population committee. Expatriates account for two thirds of the country’s total 4.4 million population. The Committee has also recommended the number of visas allotted to citizens to hire domestic workers is reduced by up to 50% and the number of visas allotted for security companies with Government contracts is reduced by approximately 25%. The Committee has gone on to recommend a time limit of about 10 to 20 years is set for expatriates in certain employment categories to stay in the country. After this period, they will have to leave and will not have right to return. The Committee has proposed the number of visas anyone living in the country can apply for annually is reduced. This will be done together with the General Information Systems Department at the Interior Ministry. Finally the Committee has called for a law to double fines for breaching residency rules and a law to punish anyone who helps or incites any expatriate worker to escape from their sponsors to be introduced.
Meanwhile in Qatar, the work visa rules for expatriate employees have been amended. However the rules for obtaining family visas and residency permits for spouses and children remain unchanged. To get a family visa, private sector employees will have to earn between 7,000 and 10,000 Riyals each month. They will also need to provide a certified marriage document, their salary certificate and bank statements for six months. Government employees will only have to provide their salary certificate. All applicants will receive a text message advising them of the application outcome. Under the new rules, employers will have to get approval for work visas from the Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry first. They will then have to apply to the Interior Ministry. Employers will be able to get visa approval without providing names and when they sign the employment contract with the worker they will need to present a passport copy, the employment contract and the Ministry’s approval to get the employee’s entry visa.