Kuwait’s interior ministry has announced a general amnesty for foreign violators of the country’s residency laws.
The amnesty will run from January 29 until February 22 and is expected to benefit nearly 130,000 illegal residents, according to the ministry.
Those that choose to participate can leave the country through any port without getting permission from the authority or paying any penalties.
Alternatively they can legalise their status and continue residing in Kuwait after paying all fines and obtaining a valid visa. The government charges KD2 ($7) for each day residing illegally in the country up to a total of KD600 ($2,000).
Residency violators with a travel ban or active criminal case against them must visit the residency affairs department during the period to discuss obtaining a valid visa.
Any illegal residents that choose to leave the country can return if they meet the regular conditions of entry and are not banned for any other reason.
The interior ministry said violators caught during the amnesty will still be deported immediately and those that choose not to take advantage of the waver will face legal penalties.
“This is a great opportunity for illegal residents to resolve their legal status, especially since those who want to leave don’t have to pay fines,” interior ministry spokesperson lieutenant colonel Nasser Buslaib told Kuwait Times.
“Also, they will have the chance to come back in the future, rather than being blacklisted if caught and deported.”
The country last granted a full amnesty period for illegal residents in 2011. A partial amnesty where violators still had to pay fines also took place in January 2016.
The amnesty announcement comes just over a month after the country’s director general of residency affairs, Talal Maarafi, was quoted as saying there was no possibility of a waver period.
Maarafi said in December the country was preparing a plan to capture and deport visa violators.