Visas For Commercial Visits - A New Tool For Human Trafficking

01 August 2022 Visit Visa

Following the suspension of family and tourist visas, and a massive investigation of the visa trade phenomenon, especially after international reports on human trafficking in Kuwait, visa traders have now created a new product as a way to secure "cash flow" and financial returns during these "hard times": commercial visit visas.

Kuwait's visa market sells commercial visit visas for between KD 400 and KD 600. People who have endured difficult times in most of the countries of the region may seek work in Kuwait and earn a better living. In spite of the conditions of receiving a visa that allows them to work only for the company that brought them to Kuwait, they take these risks.

Through the daily, citizens and expatriates demanded accountability of those who trade commercial visit visas, especially since they are selling "illusion to the weak".

According to Kuwaiti citizen Haitham Al-Sadiq, commercial visit visas must be legalized to preserve Kuwait's reputation, since only five percent of applicants use these visas to get work, while 95 percent return home disappointed without filing a complaint.

A Kuwaiti citizen, Jamaan Al-Shammari, explained that those who are desperate to work in Kuwait are openly defrauded by companies that trade in commercial visit visas. They charge them between KD 350 and KD 600 for commercial visit visas. Despite the difficulty in transferring a commercial visit visa to a work visa, there are some companies that get a higher value.

Such a person must either pay KD 2,000 for a work permit that is valid for a year or return home. Therefore, commercial visit visas have become a popular type of visa trade.

Ali Al-Sharhan, an official of a private company, says the swindle involves the owner of the company and his employees of Arab descent. Commercial visas, which cannot be transferred to another establishment, are used to trap their countrymen using these employees.

In the visa trade, brokers are delegates of Arab nationalities who work for commissions for companies dealing with visas.

In addition, Hussam Abu Al-Feda explained that he entered Kuwait years ago on a commercial visit visa and paid a broker KD 450.

He was deceived by this broker, even though he was from his family, as he promised him before he arrived in the country that companies would fight to hire him. The broker knew that such a visa could not be transferred unless it was to the same company or organization that brought him to Kuwait in the first place.

There was a total cost of KD 800 for the commercial visit visa, airline tickets, accommodation and transportation. Knowing the truth, he would have paid KD 2,000 to obtain a free visa (self-sponsored visa) instead of entering the country on a commercial visit visa.

Through his home country's restaurant company, he applied for a job in Kuwait and received his visa free of charge.

Further, Ramadan Fathi said that his relative entered Kuwait on a commercial visa without realizing that he would have to pay KD 1,700 in order to get a one-year residence permit or return home.

To return to his homeland, he had to borrow from some of his relatives to purchase a flight ticket, causing him to wonder why such facts are not made known to people before they enter the country.

Abu Raouf, the company's representative, said the series of deception continues towards those seeking commercial visit visas to Kuwait. Residence permits are traded by companies that want to make quick profits, but respectable companies do not do this.

In his words, "Desperate ones continue to use commercial visit visas for theft and fraud." Kuwait's reputation will not be restored until companies that damage it are held accountable. A company that trades in residences makes up less than three percent of the private sector's total companies."

According to Jumaa Bayoumi, an agent of a private company, residence permit companies earn income by obtaining permissions and work visas, which cost between KD 1,800 and KD 2,100. Alternatively, a commercial visit visa costs between KD 400 and KD 650.

"Work visa holders are more fortunate than those who enter Kuwait on commercial or business visit visas," he said.

In a number of countries, brokers have deluded victims into thinking they can enter Kuwait on a commercial visitor visa and then disappear. Victims are promised that they can work in any profession and that no one will ask about them, as seen in European countries. Kuwait, however, is very safe and is geographically small, so there are permanent government agencies that monitor work and patrol in all areas to control any residency violations.

Abu Bakr, a representative of a private company, suggested that there should be a permanent joint committee between the Public Authority for Manpower and the Ministry of Interior so that commercial visit visas are not granted to any company unless they comply with certain conditions that prove their legitimacy. Nevertheless, the company must outline that the visa will be used to test the worker for a set period before printing his residence permit and appointing him.

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