Kuwait suspends issuance of visas for Filipinos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — Kuwait has halted the issuance of entry and work visas for Filipinos but has not yet informed the Philippines of the reason behind the decision, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said on Thursday.

DFA Assistant Secretary Paul Cortes confirmed this to CNN Philippines, saying only Filipinos with valid resident visas are allowed to enter the Gulf state effective May 10.

“The Kuwaiti government has suspended the issuance of new entry visas for Philippine nationals into Kuwait,” Cortes said. “However, those holding current resident visas, as evidenced by their possession of a Kuwait civil ID, can enter and leave Kuwait anytime.”

Kuwaiti news outlets earlier reported that the Middle Eastern country has ordered the suspension of visa issuance due to the Philippines' alleged violation of a bilateral labor agreement.

Cortes, however, said the government cannot yet react to these reports as it has not been formally notified by Kuwait about the reason.

Still, the DFA official said the Philippines is committed to resolving whatever issues there may be in an "amicable manner," noting that the two countries have "very friendly" relations.

“We’re confident that we will be able to find a mutually satisfactory solution to whatever issues we feel need to be discussed with Kuwait,” Cortes said.

He added that Philippine officials in Kuwait are now coordinating with the government there to schedule discussions and ask for more details regarding the suspension “to make sure nothing is lost in translation.”

According to the DFA, there are around 290,000 Filipinos in the Gulf state.

In February, the Philippines suspended the processing of contracts of first-time household workers bound for Kuwait after the charred remains of a murdered 35-year-old Filipina household worker, Jullebee Ranara, was found there. 

The Department of Migrant Workers had said Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople wanted the application of newly hired household service workers to be deferred until after “significant reforms" are done.

CNN Philippines’ Kristel Limpot and Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.