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Residency Cap Eyed To Limit Expats - Foreigners Cut To 45% Of Population

Kuwait government is working on plans to introduce residency caps on expatriates to slash their number in the country to 45 percent of the total population, local Arabic daily Annahar reported on Sunday.

“The government will suggest imposing a cap of six years on unskilled labourers, eight years on semi-skilled employees, ten years on semi-skilled employees who are with their families and 12 years on skilled employees. Foreigners with rare expertise will be given an open stay,” Annahar daily quoted a source as saying, the report said.

According to 2010 estimates, the number of foreign workers in Kuwait stands at 2,340,000 and make up 69 percent of the population, the report said. The total number of Kuwaitis is said to be 1,120,000.
A source cited by the Annahar daily said the government is interested in proceeding with the residency cap plans after the World Bank ranked Kuwait as having the fourth highest rate of foreigners compared to the nationals.

The proposal to restrict the number of expatriates will be submitted by a committee made up of representatives of various ministries.

The source disclosed the Cabinet has instructed several ministries to present their recommendations to resolve the issue of foreign and marginal workforce in Kuwait.

The source explained the government decided to implement these plans when the World Bank released a report showing that the ratio of foreigners to citizens in Kuwait is the fourth largest in the world — 69 percent of the total population. The top three countries are Qatar with 87 percent, Monaco with 72 percent and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 70 percent. Kuwait is also one of the biggest sources of remittances sent by immigrant workers to their native countries, the source added.

The Kuwait government already has in place the National Manpower Development Program, which started many years ago and enforces a law which requires private companies to have a certain percentage of Kuwaitis.

These percentages, depending on skills required by various industries have been increasing every year and transactions of firms not complying with the percentages are stopped.

Saudi Arabia last month said it will not renew the work permits of foreign workers who have spent six years in the country as part of its plan to create jobs for nationals.

However, it did not say when the decision would be implemented or whether it would be applied to all foreign workers or to specific jobs

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