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Abu Dhabi: In an indication of the seriousness of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Anas Al Saleh’s resolve to eradicate illicit trade over residency permits and punish violators of residence law in Kuwait, the second of a three-phase amnesty measure will be launched once life in the country returns to normality following the current coronavirus pandemic, Kuwaiti media reported.

Kuwait’s initial amnesty outreach, which ended on April 30, was availed by 26,400 expatriates who did not have valid residency permits, according to local media reports.

The initiative, which was in place from April 1-30, permitted residency violators to leave the country without paying any fine, while allowing them a chance to return to the country later with the right documents.

Kuwait also arranged for special outbound flights to fly back those who had applied for amnesty.

Many violators expected to leave

Sources told Al Seyassah newspaper in Kuwait that the total number of remaining violators is over 90,000. A large number of them is expected to take advantage of the amnesty measure and leave the country, especially given the fact that many of them do not have an income in view of the economic and financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources said the third and final phase of the plan, which will start immediately after the end of the second one, includes an accurate survey of the numbers and nationalities of the remaining violators, knowing their whereabouts and organising extensive security campaigns to pursue them.

‘Hidden from view’

The minister of interior has asked the authorities concerned to provide lists of violating workers who are “hidden from view”, pursue them through their sponsors and arrest those who do not surrender, a source said.

The source explained that this phase will start before the end of the year and aims to remove more than 50 per cent of the violators. A block will be put on those sponsors and their financial transactions frozen who do not comply with the regulations.

At the end of the three-phase plan, the transfer of employee from one company to another will be strictly prohibited and the violator will have to leave the country for good.

Amid increasingly loud cries to address the demographic imbalance in Kuwait, a government committee presented before parliament a masterplan that could establish a 25 per cent population quota for foreigners and a 15-year cap on their living and working in the country.

Those above 60 may not get residency visas

Parliamentary sources said the plan includes making certain changes to the residency law. Sources said the plan includes measures such as not allowing visit visas to be converted into residency permits, not allowing transfer of jobs from the government sector to the private sector, not granting residency to those who are aged over 60 years and setting a 15-year cap on residency for expatriates, apart from imposing additional fees on renewing visas and raising fees related to various other government services and transactions.

The quota system will be the cornerstone of a comprehensive plan to address the demographic makeup and it will establish a 25 per cent cap on expatriate communities’ presence in the country.

Currently, 3.3 million expatriates live in Kuwait, constituting 70 per cent of the total population of 4.7 million.