Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population. Image Credit: Supplied

Cairo: The number of expatriates working in Kuwait, who have lost their residency permits for being abroad due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, has surged to about 127,000 people, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Thursday.

“This is due either to laxity of those expats to renew their iqamats or as a result of deliberate action by some sponsors or governmental bodies,” a security source told Al Rai newspaper.

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“Despite the Interior Ministry’s call for the expatriates staying abroad to expedite renewal of their residency permits online and offering them facilities, many of them have not made use of the decisions issued on humanitarian grounds,” added the source. There are around 500,000 migrant workers holding valid Kuwaiti residency permits still outside the country, according to the same source.

The Kuwaiti interior minister recently decreed extending permits and visit visas of foreigners inside Kuwait for three more months, starting September 1. However, the source, quoted by Al Rai, noted that the ministerial decree does not apply to those whose residency permits have expired as of September 1. The decree only applies to those whose residency or visit permits have ended over the period from the beginning of the year until August 31, according to the source.

“There are many expats whose iqamats [work permits] expired after September 1 and did not apply for renewing them, wrongly believing that they qualify for exemption,” the source said. “This decree does not apply to them. They will have to pay fines. If caught, they will be exposed to deportation and denied entry into the country in the future.”

Last month, Kuwait suspended entry of travellers from 32 countries, mostly home states of expatriates, citing coronavirus concerns.

Foreigners account for nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.