Manama: Kuwait has denied media reports that it had stopped issuing visit visas to Egyptian nationals.

Immigration officials said they were still dealing with visa applications “in accordance with the regular procedures and criteria”.

However, they added that the immigration offices during Ramadan were unusually busy “due to the high number of visit visa applications”.

“This situation requires the rationing of the transactions,” the immigration directorate said, local media reported on Monday.

Egyptians make up the largest community of Arab expatriates in Kuwait with a massive presence in the public and private sector.

Kuwait in May 2011 banned nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan from entering the country. The veto was extended to include Yemenis in August.

The ban that suspended all tourism, visit and trade visas as well as visas sponsored by spouses was attributed to the “difficult security conditions in the five countries” and to “the remarkably increasing tendency of nationals from the five countries to apply for visas to bring in relatives who faced or could face arrest by the local authorities to Kuwait”.

In January this year, the authorities eased the ban and partially lifted the blanket restriction on the entry of the nationals from the six countries to the northern Arabian Gulf country.

Under the new regulations, nationals from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan working in the public sector could invite their wives and children to join them.

Those working in the private sector could bring their sons into the country if they were less than 15 years old and their daughters if they were less than 18. However, the regulations stipulated that the expatriates’ wives had to be living in Kuwait at the time of the application and that they had valid residence permits.

In a third breakthrough for the nationals under the ban, business people could enter Kuwait if their companies were categorised as Grade A or as government establishments.