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Work permits of 19,995 expats were cancelled between January and March in Kuwait. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Kuwait City: Official figures released by the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) revealed that work permits of 19,995 expats were cancelled between January 12 and March 7, local media reported.

Of those, the majority of the work permits cancelled, 12,391, belonged to expats whose residencies expired as they are stuck outside of the country due to travel restriction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 6,245 work permits were cancelled by expats that have decided to leave Kuwait indefinitely and return to their home countries.

A small number of work permits were cancelled as some expats transferred their visas to a dependent visa or in some unfortunate cases the permit holder passed away.

Within the two-month period, around 83 expats switched over their work permits from the government sector to the private sector.

In January, PAM published a report that showed that around 12 expatriates are leaving the Kuwaiti job market every hour, local media reported.

The reasons for their departure differ, but most commonly it is due to expired residency permits that haven’t been renewed or expats leaving Kuwait indefinitely.

Expats stuck abroad

There are around hundreds of thousands of expats stranded abroad due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, majority of which have had their residency permits expired.

Kuwait closed its airport and borders twice during the pandemic. The first time was from March 13 to August 1. Then given the concern over the new COVID strain, Kuwait halted all air, land and sea travel to and from Kuwait from December 21 to January 1.

Although the airport reopened, passengers arriving from 35 countries are still banned from entering Kuwait without quarantining in a non-banned country for 14 days first. Of the 35 listed on the travel ban list, are India, Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka, home countries to the majority of expats residing in Kuwait.

Then on February 7, a ban on all non-Kuwaitis from entering Kuwait was put into place until further notice.

Indefinite leave

Large numbers of expats have decided to leave Kuwait for good due several reasons from the economic effect to the instability both brought by the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs or received incomplete salaries. Several businesses have closed down therefore resulting in mass unemployment across different sectors.

While some are leaving Kuwait for economic reasons, others have stated that they feel Kuwait is no longer home thus traveling back to their home countries. In addition, many have pointed out that the constantly changing labour laws are creating instability and making it hard for many to plan long term.