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Things are changing in Kuwait for the expatriate community, who look likely to find their numbers slowly being whittled down if new rules come into force. Like so many Middle Eastern nations, Kuwait is home to a vast number of expat workers. Within Kuwait these foreign nationals most commonly work in the construction and domestic care industries.
However concerns are growing over the estimated 2.8 million foreign workers currently living in the State and what exactly will happen as they age. After all, it is normal for the costs of healthcare to increase with age, meaning that an ageing expat population could put the public purse under strain.
Furthermore of course an ageing expat population could make it harder for Kuwaiti nationals to access their own healthcare system, which their taxes have funded. If the current pattern of economic immigration continues to grow at its current rate, the ratio of expat residents to natives will skew yet further in the future.
Now new rules have been proposed to limit the expat population to no more than 15% of the total population.
A new law seeks to control the numbers of expats by limiting the time they can remain in the country; in other words the new policy would effectively make it impossible for expats to actually retire to the country. Instead, seeing as most expats enter the country as workers, they would likely be free to earn a living while of working age before having their residency status revoked with age.
The proposal would enforce a ten year maximum residency period, which would only be renewable once and only if strict guidelines has been met. In this way it would impossible for expats to remain in the country for more than 20 years in total. After this point they would unable to remain in the country.
There would also be a maximum upper age limit for the expat worker population in order to minimize healthcare requirements. The goal is that unskilled workers would only be present in the country up until the age of 50, while skilled workers such as medical professionals would be welcome up until 70 years old.
The new rules would mainly affect Asian workers who make up the vast majority of the imported workforce in Kuwait. The hope of this new policy, if approved, is that it would slowly reduce the expat population by around 100,000 a year for the foreseeable future, thus bringing the ratios back within suggested government guidelines.
The Kuwait government of course has every right to protect their population and their highly rated healthcare system. Nobody could deny them the opportunity to repair their finances while prioritizing the local population and ensuring they can receive all the medical care they need.
That said, some experts have suggested that this new policy is rather harsh, potentially affecting hard working expatriate retirees. After all, removing a 70 year old expat who has devoted the last two decades to creating a life in Kuwait may be rather tough for the worldwide expat community to swallow.
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