Visas and Permits for Expats in Kuwait


Sponsorship System for Visitors
To enter Kuwait all visitors need a visa or entry permit. However, nationals of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are exempted from that law. They may enter Kuwait and even live there without having to undergo any specific formalities.
The immigration system of Kuwait is based upon sponsorship. Visitors must always be sponsored whilst staying in Kuwait by a Kuwaiti national or company. Sponsors are responsible for the visitor and will be liable if the visitor breaches any rules. The sponsor is simply the employer in Kuwait, for expatriate workers.

Visitor Visas for Short Stays
Kuwaiti visitor visas are valid for a stay of up to 30 days. Overstaying this duration will result in a fine of 10 KWD per day, which must be paid before leaving the country. Visitor visas are usually issued within two working days and currently cost 3 KWD.
Nationals from 70 countries, including the US, EU member states except Croatia, Australia, and Japan, are granted entry visas upon arrival in Kuwait. If you belong to this group, you do not need to apply for a visa before travelling to Kuwait. You can check whether you are among these nationalities on the Embassy Finder website.
Whose who are in Kuwait on a visitor visa may not take up any sort of employment. Working in Kuwait requires a work permit and a residency visa.

Securing Your Long-Term Stay — Work Permits and Residency Visas
In order to live and work in Kuwait, expatriates have to obtain a residency visa (iqama). This visa can only be issued on the basis of a valid employment offer from a private company or a Kuwaiti government organisation. The Kuwaiti employer then applies for the iqama on behalf of the expatriate employee.
You are then issued a so-called “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) with which you can enter Kuwait. You will be issued the actual residency visa once you have entered Kuwait. In order for the residency visa to be issued, an extensive medical certificate is necessary, including testing for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.
Once the residency visa is issued, you can apply for a Kuwaiti Civil ID (bitaqa-madaniyah). This application has to be submitted within 30 days of receiving the residency visa.

Dependent Visas — For Expats with Family in Kuwait
Once he has successfully obtained residency, a male expat can act as a sponsor for his wife and children to live with him while he is working in Kuwait. This possibility, however, is restricted by certain salary requirements — only expatriates who earn at least 650 KWD per month (450 KWD if you’re working in the public sector) may bring their families with them.
The procedure for dependent visas is similar to that of residency visas. The actual visa is issued upon arrival in Kuwait. Furthermore, dependents have to undergo the same medical examinations.
In a patriarchal twist, her husbands can not be sponsored by female expats. Sons over 21 can not either be sponsored, although this rule does not apply to adult daughters and parents. Any dependent who wishes to take up employment in Kuwait will also require a separate work visa with a sponsor from Kuwaiti.


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