Kuwait, a country of the Arabian Peninsula located in the northwestern corner of the Persian Gulf. Although it suffered from the war, it bounced back and became one of the countries with the highest per capita incomes in the world. All of Kuwait’s wealth is derived, directly or indirectly, from petroleum extraction and processing. Thus, it is one of the popular work destinations in the world as it provides numerous opportunities to its foreign workers such as high salaries and rich work experience. Kuwait remains heavily dependent on foreign labor that is why expatriates account for 70% of its population. They also have invested only marginally in their local industry. Another great aspect of Kuwait is that it has no individual tax. The government’s revenue all comes from oil plus the taxes on foreign corporations.
Since a large percentage of the population is composed of expatriates, they have to follow a different set of employment compliance laws. Foreign workers who want to work in Kuwait are required to acquire proper Kuwait work visas and permits (Iqama) before proceeding to work there. It is as established by the immigration laws that work permits must be secured for employees sponsored by a locally licensed business entity. Although there is a huge number of expatriates in Kuwait, “Kuwaitisation” rules administer the ratio between the local employees and the expatriate workers.
Do I need to have a working visa in Kuwait?
Yes, and it is a complex process with too many restrictions. Last 2018, new work permit restrictions came into effect stating that applicants under the age of 30 years are banned from obtaining a Work Permit, so to be eligible they had to hold at least a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Another subtext to the new policy is applicants over the age of 30 years old who already have a work permit in Kuwait will be incapable of upgrading the level of their educational attainment while they remain in the country so they are required to exit Kuwait and re-apply for a new work permit.
What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in Kuwait?
Of course, there is an exception to the rule. Citizens of the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC (Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) do not need a visa to travel to Kuwait. The company they wish to work for must apply for a work permit through MOSAL. Additionally, the applicant should apply for a local civil ID card (bitaqat-al madinah al or bitaqa) through the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) within two months or 60 days.
Despite the confusing regulations and restrictions, here’s a guide to getting your Kuwait work visa and making sure all the paperwork is in order.
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Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in Kuwait
1. Submit personal details to obtain NOC
First, the employer is required to submit your personal information to avail of the No-Objection Certificate (NOC). The said certificate can be obtained from the General Administration of Criminal Investigation at the Ministry of Interior. Then, the employer must acquire a work permit from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour.
2. Send a copy of your passport to get a work permit
Send a copy of your passport to the employer which they will present to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor so they can provide a work visa for Kuwait. After this, the employee should find an entry visa for Kuwait that can be endorsed using the work permit.
3. Get a PCC
You will also get a police clearance certificate (PCC) from the RPO (Regional Passport Office). PCC is issued based on an explicit clear Police Verification Report in respect of the passport given by the applicant.
For filing the PCC application, one must fill out the Miscellaneous Service Form 2 with the subject ‘PCC for Kuwait. Submit the following documents, such as the original passport and two photocopies of the job offer letter along with the form. Pay the Kuwait work visa fees and then you are good to go for the next step. Also, it must be noted that PCC is only valid for three months from the date of issuance so plan before getting a visa.
4. Certificate Attestation
The PCC must be attested first before visa processing. This takes about 2-3 days before completion and fees must be paid for processing. The RPO will stamp the employee’s passport along with giving PCC that further needs to be attested.
5. Payment of fees
The payment instruction will depend on the accredited travel agency where you process the work visa. Processing the work visa in an embassy or consulate is relatively lower in price because it does not require a service fee like in the travel agency.
6. Prepare for the process after Visa Arrival
Once the employer receives the Kuwait work visa, they will also send the employee NOC. Upon receipt of the 2 documents, the employee must undergo a medical exam at the nearest medical center that is duly recognized by the Kuwaiti Consulate. Be ready to present your original visa as they will require it for verification. They will conduct a blood test and an x-ray and will send a medical report that will prove you are in good health and do not have contagious diseases. Aside from this, the employee must undergo a fingerprint registration for a security clearance and residence at any one of the four known fingerprint departments in the country
7. Be prepared for Visa Stamping
Take your medical report, work visa, and attested PCC to the Kuwait Embassy for stamping, which should take about 1-4 days of processing depending on the time of the year.
I hope that this article on getting a work visa in Kuwait was helpful! If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to check out the Available Programs for International Students!