Are you interested in hiring foreign workers in Kuwait?
Standing as one of the richest countries in the Middle East thanks to its massive oil reserves, Kuwait is hosting a large number of foreigners. The majority of them came to the country for work opportunities.
In fact, foreign nationals make up 68.3% of the total population, as reported by the Kuwait Times.
These workers play a significant role in contributing to Kuwait’s development and its position as a regional economic powerhouse.
What’s more, the Kuwaiti Government plans on bringing even more foreigners to the country to cover demand in a number of sectors.
For example, Kuwait is exploring the possibility of hiring more Filipino workers for some selected sectors, as highlighted by the Business Post. Additionally, the country is recruiting nurses from Bangladesh and India for healthcare centers.
In this post, we guide you through the process of hiring foreign workers in Kuwait, covering all the important legal requirements.
Hiring Foreign Workers in Kuwait: 6 Essential Steps
In February 2010, Kuwait’s National Assembly passed the Private Sector Labor Law, often referred to as “the New Labor Law”.
The Labor Law is the primary legal framework that governs relations between employers and employees.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) is responsible for implementing and enforcing this law.
In this regard, MSAL has designated labor officers in each of Kuwait’s six provinces to receive and address employment-related complaints.
Additionally, they ensure that employers in the private sector comply with the regulations by conducting unannounced checks.
As an employer, it’s important to know that you will take on the role of a sponsor and hold responsibility for the foreign worker.
This means that your company is in charge of all administrative tasks, such as obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the worker and a work permit.
Below, we provide an overview of the steps you must take to comply with the rules implemented by MSAL when hiring foreign workers in Kuwait.
Step 1: Recruit the Right Candidate
When recruiting foreign workers, you must select only individuals who are at least 21 years old.
During the process, make sure you conduct thorough research and assessment.
This practice is vital to ensure that you choose the best-suited individuals for your company.
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Step 2: Apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC)
Next, you will need to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Department of Criminal Police of the Ministry of Interior of Kuwait.
The Department will check that there are no pending criminal investigations regarding the applicant.
The No Objection Certificate must state that there are no objections to the employment of the foreigner.
To obtain the certificate, you will need to wait between 2 and 9 weeks.
Step 3: Apply for a Work Permit
As a local employer, you cannot hire foreign workers in Kuwait without authorization from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL).
To do so, you must visit the work department in the relevant governorate and submit the supporting documents.
These documents include:
- Original signed authorization along with a copy
- A copy of the worker’s passport
- For applicants in scientific roles: Attested scientific certificate, verified by the relevant authorities
- An authenticated copy of the wage transfer certificate from the Work Inspection Department. The copy must be stamped by the Reception, Coordination, or Employment Sections
- For Egyptian applicants: A declaration and commitment letter from the employer
- A recent stamp with an original signature authorization
The application fee for a work permit is KD 10, and the processing time is 3-4 weeks.
Upon approval of the work permit, you must send it to the applicant in order to apply for an entry visa.
Step 4: Your Future Employee Applies for a Work Visa for Kuwait
Next, your future employee must apply for a work visa at the competent Embassy of Kuwait.
If there is no Diplomatic Mission of Kuwait in the applicant’s country of residence, you must apply for a visa at the competent migration service.
The application requirements are as follows:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months before the expiration date
- Fully completed and signed visa application form
- One passport-size photo
- The results of an HIV (AIDS) test
- Health certificate from a local doctor stating that the applicant is in good health and free from contagious diseases such as hepatitis B & C, filariasis, syphilis, malaria, and tuberculosis
- Police clearance showing no criminal record
- No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior
- Company registration certificate
- Work permit from MSAL
The fee for a work visa for Kuwait ranges from KD 30 to KD 90 depending on factors such as visa type, duration of stay, and applicant’s nationality.
In most cases, the Embassy will take 1-2 weeks to process the application.
Step 5: Sign an Employment Contract
Immediately after your employee enters Kuwait, you must sign an employment contract.
The contract must be signed in 3 copies. One copy will remain with the worker, one with the company, and the third one must be sent to MSAL.
Employment contracts must also be attested by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait.
Under the Labor Law, you must sign an employment contract in Arabic. The contract can be provided in a second language upon an employee’s request. However, in case of a dispute, the Arabic version will prevail.
Do note that employment contracts can be of two types: definite and indefinite.
A definite-term contract should not go beyond five years, nor should it be less than one year. After the initial fixed period, it can be extended with both parties agreeing.
If both parties continue working beyond the contract’s end date, it’s considered automatically renewed for an indefinite period, while keeping the same conditions.
Step 6: Apply for an Iqama Residence Visa
Within 30 days of entering Kuwait, you must apply for an Iqama residence visa (or residence permit) for your worker. The permit serves as proof of the worker’s legal status in the country.
To do so, you will need to submit the following documents to the Immigration Department:
- Worker’s passport (original and copy)
- Work permit issued by MSAL
- Health insurance
- Disease-free certificate
- Sponsor’s signature authorization
- Two personal photos
- Entrance visa used to enter the country
- Certificate of police record
As part of the application process, your worker must have a medical examination for infectious diseases. They will also need to provide their fingerprints and obtain a local security clearance.
The fee for a residence permit is KD 10.
Typically, the Immigration Department processes Iqama applications in 2-3 weeks.
Within 10 days of the residence permit issuance, an ID card application should be filed with PACI, the Public Authority for Civil Information. Once approved, your workers will obtain a civil ID card.
Foreign Workers in Kuwait: Final Considerations
Kuwaiti employers often find it crucial to tap into the global talent pool. With several sectors in need of more hands on deck, foreign workers play a key role in filling the gaps.
However, you should be careful when hiring foreign workers in Kuwait so you don’t run afoul of employment laws.
Be sure to follow the steps outlined in this article to make informed decisions and hire employees compliantly.
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