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Kuwait’s amnesty offer to reprieve hundreds of stranded Nepalis

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Jan 26, 2018-

In a move that could bring reprieve to hundreds of stranded Nepali migrant workers, the Kuwaiti government has decided to grant amnesty to expatriates living in the country without valid visas.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior on Tuesday issued a decree announcing a 25-day general amnesty to all foreigners, who have overstayed in the country without the legal permit.

The decision is expected to benefit nearly 130,000 expatriates staying in the country without valid residence permit, according to the local authority. And it has come as a big relief to nearly 300 Nepali workers of the local company, Kharafi National. They have been stranded in the country for months without work, money and valid residence permit after the company went bust. 

The first batch of 21 Nepalis were repatriated in last December with the support of Nepali Embassy in Kuwait and recruiting agencies. But the others are awaiting their turn. Most of them have not been paid for months, with their status becoming illegal in the country as the company had failed to renew their residence permit. The Nepali Embassy estimates that fines against overstaying Nepali workers amount to nearly Rs 4 million.

The Nepal government had put a request to the Kuwaiti authorities concerned through diplomatic channels for waving off the penalties due on those stranded Nepali workers and making sure their due salary were paid.

The latest amnesty offer from the Kuwaiti government means the stranded Nepali migrant workers are likely to make use of the opportunity and get back. According to the Kuwait ministry, the amnesty period starts on January 29 will last until February 22.

“The illegal residents or overstaying immigrants can leave the country during that period through any port without paying any penalty,” read the decree.

The head of the interior ministry’s media security department Lt Col Nasser Buslaib had told local media that it was an opportunity for illegal migrants.

“This is a great opportunity for illegal residents to resolve their legal status, especially since those who want to leave don’t have to pay fines. Also, they will have the chance to come back in the future, rather than being blacklisted if caught and deported,” Buslaib had told the Kuwait Times.   

In another option, those overstaying can also apply for legal status and continue their stay in the country without facing any legal actions. However, they will have to pay overstaying fine and apply for a visa.

For getting legal status and continue their stay in the country, such illegal workers will have to pay a penalty of 2 Kuwaiti dinars for each day of overstaying. In case, if they have stayed for a longer period, the penalty may go up to KD600. 

The Kuwait ministry has also assured that those illegal residents in the country will not be banned from entering the country again. “Those who leave the country during this amnesty period are allowed to enter Kuwait again if they meet the regular conditions of entry and if they were not banned for another reason,” added the announcement.   The local authority has, however, warned of severe action against those continued to stay illegally in Kuwait ignoring the government’s amnesty offer. Such illegal expatriates will have to face legal actions, including deportation, penalties.

Any illegal migrant caught during the amnesty period will be face immediate deportation, according to the Kuwaiti government.

The oil-rich nation had last granted full amnesty to illegal expatriates in 2011. It had offered partial amnesty in January 2016, which did not excuse violators of fines.

Published: 26-01-2018 11:59

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