Kuwait plans residency cap to limit foreign presence

June 12, 2011

Kuwait is planning to introduce residency caps on foreigners to bring down their number in the country to 45 per cent of the total population.

Currently, expatriates at 2,340,000 make up 69 per cent of the population while Kuwaitis, with 1,102,000, are only 31 per cent, according to the 2010 census.

“The government will suggest imposing a cap of six years on unskilled labourers, eight years on semi-skilled employees, ten years on semi-skilled employees who are with their families and 12 years on skilled employees. Foreigners with rare expertise will be given an open stay,” a source told Annahar daily.

The proposal to limit the number of foreigners will be submitted by a committee made up of representatives from the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, social affairs and commerce as well as from the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, the daily said on Sunday.

Violators of the residency caps, both individuals and companies, will be prosecuted under the government’s proposal.

The government is keen on moving ahead with the residency caps after the World Bank ranked Kuwait as having the fourth highest rate of foreigners compared with its native population, the source that the paper did not identify said.

Saudi Arabia’s labour minister last month said that his country was moving ahead with a plan to introduce a six-year residency cap on foreigners to help unemployed Saudis find jobs.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) labour ministers have been trying for years to impose residency caps, but their efforts have been invariably foiled by business communities that claimed that such a move would harm the national economy that is heavily reliant on foreigners due to high growth rates and the shortage of native skilled manpower.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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