Kuwait: New Amendments to Laws on Residency of Foreigners and Citizenship Proposed

On March 23, 2022, the Kuwait parliament’s Committee for Interior Security and Defense declared its agreement with new amendments proposed by the Cabinet concerning laws on the residency of foreigners and citizenship, and announced that it would vote in the near future on the amendments. Reportedly, the purpose of the new amendments is to enhance the investment climate in Kuwait and attract investors.

Amendments to Royal Decree No. 17 of 1959 on the Residency of Foreigners

Under the proposed new amendments to Royal Decree No. 17 of 1959, foreigners visiting the State of Kuwait could temporarily reside in the country for a period of up to three months, after which they must leave the country. However, foreigners could obtain a renewal of their temporary residency from the Ministry of Interior for a period not exceeding one year.

Concerning foreign investors and individuals owning real estate in Kuwait, the new suggested amendments grant such investors a residence permit for a period not exceeding 15 years, subject to renewal.

Furthermore, the new proposed amendments grant the children of a Kuwaiti woman married to a foreign national a residency permit for a period of 10 years, subject to renewal. The Kuwaiti law on citizenship grants Kuwaiti citizenship to a child only if the father is Kuwaiti. (Royal Decree No. 15 of 1959 on Citizenship art. 2.)

Finally, the proposed amendments prohibit Kuwaiti citizens from “exploiting the recruitment or facilitation of the recruitment of a foreigner,” which could involve the creation of fake employment positions to obtain residency permits for foreigners, getting financial compensation from those foreigners instead of paying them wages, getting financial compensation from foreigners residing in Kuwait to renew their employment residency permits, and unjustifiably refraining from paying wages to foreigners working in Kuwait.

Amendments to Royal Decree No. 15 of 1959 on Citizenship

The proposed amendments to Royal Decree No. 15 of 1959 stipulate that a foreign female divorcee or widow of a Kuwaiti citizen who does not have children from him could still obtain Kuwaiti citizenship after 18 years of marriage. Under the current law of citizenship, foreign women who are divorcees or widows of Kuwaiti husbands must have children from them to obtain Kuwaiti citizenship. (Royal Decree No. 15 of 1959, as amended, art. 8, para. 2.)

Additionally, the proposed amendments would allow a Kuwaiti husband to naturalize more than one wife in accordance with the stipulated conditions and controls.

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