The Kuwaiti government has decided against penalising over 24,000 Indian employees, working illegally in the country, if they volunteer for deportation or transfer of job visas. The country’s Interior Ministry chief, General Talal Ibrahim Marafie, said the relaxation would not be extended if the individuals had indulged in violation of other laws, reported IANS.

Marafie said, “We are lenient towards Indian workers but have asked them to strictly follow the rules and regulations. The Immigration Department is ready to help them in the deportation process.” He said the relaxation of rules was made “in view of good and strong ties with India.”

The Indian population in Kuwait comprises a significant section of the country’s large immigrant workforce.

Marafie cited several reasons for the presence of illegal workers, including workers leaving their sponsors to work for other companies. He said several workers did not have their documents in place because they did not know anyone who could guide them through the process of visa renewal. The senior official said 2,018 workers, working illegally in the country, had already been assisted without any penalty.

Another senior Interior Ministry official, Mohammed Ajami, said the government was also willing to offer assistance for the non-payment of salaries. Courts in the country are obliged to announce their verdicts in related matters within a month. The government has also proposed changes in the labour laws which will give workers the right to retain their passports and travel documents.

Marifie dismissed speculation that a change in oil prices had impacted recruitment in the country. He said that more than 50,000 Indians were recruited in 2016.