Kuwait to resume issuing visas to Filipinos

Michelle Abad

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Kuwait to resume issuing visas to Filipinos

KUWAIT. An aerial view taken with a drone shows the Kuwait National Assembly building, October 7, 2020.

Stephanie McGehee/Reuters

The Philippines will only deploy domestic workers to Kuwait if they have had prior overseas working experience

MANILA, Philippines – More than a year since Kuwait suspended the issuance of new visas to Filipinos entering the country for work and tourism, the Gulf state is set to ease restrictions for visitors and most types of workers, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) confirmed on Tuesday, June 25.

Deployment will resume once the DMW issues policy guidelines that include measures on strengthened protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), which is expected in the coming months, according to DMW Secretary Hans Cacdac.

The guidelines will allow the resumption of deployment of professional, skilled, and semi-skilled Filipino workers to Kuwait. Domestic workers may also be deployed, as long as they have prior overseas working experience.

Some protective measures include the implementation of a blacklist and whitelist of recruitment agencies and employers, provision of salaries through electronic means, and the appointment of welfare officers to monitor OFWs in Kuwait.

Kuwait stopped issuing visas to Filipinos on a non-residency status in May 2023, a few months after the Philippines halted the processing of applications of first-time Filipino domestic workers bound for Kuwait in the aftermath of the brutal murder of domestic worker Jullebee Ranara.

The Department of Foreign Affairs at the time presumed that the Kuwait ban was a form of “diplomatic pressure” on the Philippines to lift its own partial ban.

The Philippines was firm on its decision to keep the partial ban until justice was achieved for Ranara’s case. Ranara’s killer was convicted of murder in September 2023, and the Kuwaiti appellate court upheld the sentence in February 2024. The perpetrator – her employer’s son – was 17 at the time of the murder, and 15 years was the maximum penalty a minor could get for murder under Kuwaiti law.

In reaching the agreement on Sunday, June 23, both the Philippines and Kuwait agreed to establish a joint technical working committee to resolve labor-related issues.

Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Kuwaiti side for their openness and sa magandang pag-uusap (We’re grateful to Kuwait for their openness and fruitful dialogue),” said Cacdac.

Ranara’s family is in the process of receiving damages from the perpetrator’s family. Her brother earlier said that the family believed Kuwait was too lenient on his sister’s killer.

Kuwait was the host country of a number of high-profile abuse cases of Filipino domestic workers. In the past, there were several cycles of the Philippines banning deployment, having bilateral talks to come up with new protection measures, and resuming deployment. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.