Kuwait hikes minimum salary requirements for expat family visas
A ministry spokesman said that 14 categories would be exempted from the KD450 minimum salary condition. (Shutterstock)
Kuwait has raised the minimum salary required for expatriates to sponsor their wives and children from KD250 to KD450.
The decision issued by Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Khalid Al Sabah to make the amendment will dramatically reduce the number of expatriate families living in Kuwait where foreigners make up two thirds of the total population believed to be around 3.3 million people.
Under Kuwait’s laws, any employee from any nationality who has a residency can sponsor his spouse, children or elderly dependent relatives to live with him or her in the country.
However, the permission to sponsor the spouse and children is granted only to those who meet the minimum salary criterion in order to ensure that the sponsor can financially support and accommodate himself and his or her dependents without recourse to public funds.
The minimum wage for the dependent visa used to be KD400, but it was lowered to KD 250 in 2004 in a bid to encourage expatriates to bring in their families and change the demography of the country from a male-dominated society to a family society.
However, the amendment over the years largely contributed to a dramatic increase of expatriates living in Kuwait, prompting calls to adopt new policies to ensure a more sensible balance between the numbers of Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis.
A limited percentage of the expatriate population, made up mainly of low-skilled Asians and Arabs working mainly in the construction and service sectors, earn more than KD450 a month.
The amendment announced on Wednesday by the minister said that the expatriate must draw the KD450 minimum salary from the occupation for which he was granted the residency visa, which rules out combinations of two jobs to reach the required monthly wage.
Foreigners who are already in Kuwait or who were born in the country and make less than KD450 a month will have their cases looked into by the director general of the residence department to assess whether they can be exempted from the minimum salary requirement.
The minister’s decision said that 14 categories would be exempted from the KD450 minimum salary condition.
The list includes advisors, judges, public prosecution staff, legal experts and researchers in the public sector; doctors and pharmacists; professors at universities, colleges and higher institutes; public school principals and vice-principals, education supervisors, teachers, social advisors and laboratory assistants in the public sector; academic, financial and economic consultants; engineers; imams, preachers, muezzins and Quran teachers; librarians in government establishments and private universities; health ministry staff including nurses, paramedics, technicians and social service workers; social workers and psychologists in the public sector; journalists, media staff and reporters; coaches and players affiliated with sports associations and clubs; pilots and flight attendants; and washers and buriers of dead bodies.
By Habib Toumi
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