Monday 12th September 2011

The expatriate workforce in Kuwait is expected to halve over the next five years after a government official announced that the number of expatriate workers permitted will be reduced from 70% to just 34%.

Speaking on Saturday, a government official said: “Kuwait is keen to achieve a situation in which the expatriate workforce will form 34 percent of the state's population by the end of the development plan period, which can be achieved by organizing the process of recruiting expatriate workers," said Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Dr Mohammad Al-Afasi.

Despite the fact that the government have previous introduced measures to reduce the number of expatriate workers who are permitted to enter the country, it appears that these have been largely unsuccessful. In the past few years up to 15,000 new workers have entered the country, many of whom avoided the government ban on issuing new work permits by entering the country on a commercial visa which they then exchanged for a work permit.

In the future the government will introduce new requirements that will restrict the applicant’s ability to exchange a visa for a work permit, one of which may include the requirement for a university degree.

Existing workers in Kuwait, however, will not be impacted according to Al-Afasi: "The amendments are required to prevent further increase to the current demographical imbalance."

He also explained that companies that recruit workers on development plan-related projects will also be permitted to continue utilizing foreign workers "so long as [such workers] are signed via temporary contracts," which would ensure that do not remain in Kuwait once work on the projects is completed.

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