KUWAIT: Expatriates will no longer be able to transfer their residence to a company of their choice and face immediate deportation if they are charged with an absconding case by their previous or original employers. Brig Gen Adel Al-Hashash, Head of Public Relations and Moral Guidance at the Ministry of Interior, told Kuwait Times the decision was made by the immigration department and will be applied to all expatriate workers. “When they are reported by their employers as absconding, they will be summoned, and we will investigate why they absconded. We are not going to do anything about it because they are already bound for deportation – absconding now means deportation and we will apply it. But we will make sure that all indemnities and benefits will be accorded to these workers,” he said.
The decision was made recently by Maj Gen Talal Marafi, the General Director of the Immigration General Department and circulated at immigration administrations in Kuwait’s six governorates. The decision mentioned that an expatriate in such a case would not be allowed to transfer his residence even if he has the approval from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor or reaches a settlement with his original employer. The Ministry of Social Affairs in Labor usually resolved absconding cases, but now they will be settled at the Ministry of Interior.
Hajjaj Abu Khudoor, a Kuwaiti economist said, the decision was fair if the same department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) is established at the Ministry of Interior, since it is Kuwait’s rights to do what is necessary for the good of all. “The labor law in Kuwait is clear on the matter – both parties must be heard. There must be reasons for absconding and if they find reasonable grounds, then they must reconsider. The solution is to listen to both parties, then study and solve it. If the ministry of interior can do the work done by the MSAL, why not? It’s their prerogative,” he said. “I think disciplining workers is one reason why they have decided to shift absconding cases to the ministry of interior. It’s a state affair after all but it must be done properly and in accordance with the law of the land,” he added.
With the decision, expatriate workers will no longer have the right to settle their disputes, and would be required to leave the country immediately. The Interior Ministry says that the measure will prevent workers from leaving the company that hired them and sign contracts with other employers by obtaining approval from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to transfer their visas without the original employer’s approval.
Expatriates in Kuwait are unsure how the new law will be implemented. “Loopholes in the new decision are clear. What if for any reason the employer files an absconding case only because he doesn’t like you, and without any investigation the worker will be deported. This is a very one-sided decision, and I hope it will be reversed,” said one expat.
The labor relations department (Shuoon) at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor used to handle investigations in cases filed by employers who claimed that their employees went missing and failed to report to work without valid reasons. The process allowed the department to reveal when employers made false accusations against workers to deny their rights, or negotiate a settlement between the two parties after the absconding employee was summoned.
The Ministry of Interior’s immigration law states that expatriates – even if they have valid visas – can be deported if the following situations are present:
(1) If a judgment was issued from the court for the deportation of the expatriate,
(2) if the expatriate has no means of living and
(3) deportation can be issued in case of violation of public order, public security or public morality.-Kuwait Times
It's getting tougher to live in Kuwait!