What is the change? A new regulation has created hurdles for foreign engineers seeking to renew their work permits.

What does the change mean? Engineers must obtain a no-objection certificate from the Kuwait Society of Engineers. In order to obtain the certificate, the engineers must show that they have graduated from an accredited university, that both their university and their course of study are on the society’s accreditation list and that they have passed an exam given by the society.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residence permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign engineers in Kuwait.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants should anticipate delays in obtaining no-objection certificates and work-permit renewals.
  • Business impact: Companies should expect delays and plan for the possibility that work permit renewals for engineers will be rejected.
  • Next steps: Employers should identify engineering employees who are coming up for work permit renewal and begin to assess whether their universities and coursework are on the accreditation list of the Kuwait Society of Engineers.

Background: The Public Manpower Authority implemented the new rule in a circular with little notice, ordering all labor departments not to renew residence permits (iqamas) for foreign engineers unless they obtain a no-objection letter. Hundreds of engineers, mostly from India, were reportedly unable to renew their permits last week, as many foreign universities are not on the Kuwait Society of Engineers’ accreditation list. Jordanian and Egyptian authorities are putting diplomatic pressure on Kuwait to delay implementation of the rule and allow their universities to be put on the accreditation list.

BAL Analysis: Kuwait’s move toward stricter criteria for engineers is consistent with similar efforts by countries in the Gulf region to localize their workforces in part by reducing the number of expatriate workers. Saudi Arabia recently implemented stronger prerequisites for the hiring of foreign engineers. Employers should anticipate that Kuwaiti authorities may impose new rules for other professions as well.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Kuwait. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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