Foreigners make up nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s total population of 4.6 million. Image Credit: Yasmena Al Mulla

Cairo: Expatriates above 60 who hold no university degree and are still in Kuwait are likely to get their work permits renewed after a government agency last week invalidated a contested ban on their employment, a local newspaper has said.

The Legal Advice and Legislation Department has invalidated the decision, issued by the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) in August last year, had no legal basis, clearing the way for scrapping the ban.

The department, an affiliate of the council of ministers, added the ban had been issued by the PAM director-general without authorisation.

“Distinction should be drawn between the expatriates above age of 60 who can get renewed work permits once instructions to do so are issued and those who left the country and their residency permits were cancelled. They have no right to return [to Kuwait] without new procedures,” a security source told Al Qabas.

Around 4,013 such expatriates have been forced out of the work market in Kuwait in the first six months of enforcing the decision, Al Qabas said, citing unspecified statistics.

The ban, which went into effect earlier this year, triggered an outcry among rights activists, who argued that it affects thousands of expatriates and their families who long lived in Kuwait.

Critics also said the restriction has also caused damage to many employers and destabilised the labour market, robbing it of experienced workers.

The ban was seen as an attempt to reduce numbers of migrant workers who account for majority of Kuwait’s population.

In July, the PAM issued another decision allowing expatriates above the age of 60 to renew their residency permits in return for paying annual fees of KD2,000. This move also sparked an outcry and unleashed a campaign by activists demanding cancellation of the restrictions.

Expatriates, who hold no university degree, are estimated at over 80,000 in Kuwait.

Foreigners make up nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s total population of 4.6 million.

The Gulf country has in recent months sought to redress its demographic imbalance amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.