Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Summary of family visa application process for Kuwait

I just wrote an email to a new person who arrived and asked about the process of bringing his wife over. After I was done I thought...hey...this is a pretty good summary! This is it pasted verbatim:

Pretty much all of this depends on getting your Civil ID first. That can take 1-2 months from your arrival. After that it may take another 1-2 months depending on many factors (how fast you can get stuff done, government holidays, etc…). We were very blessed to be able to get it all done in about 2 1/2 months total, but I wouldn't expect that in every case.

The following list is overwhelming, I know. Let me give you some pointers before you go through the whole list:

- Concentrate on the next step
- Always double check what you think you need to do next with multiple sources.
- Don't be discouraged if you get conflicting information from different sources, use your best judgement and pick the most reliable one, then continuously check and recheck your choice at every opportunity.
- Things your wife can and should do *now*:
a) Start the authentication process (see below)
b) Contact the consulate (LA) or embassy (DC) to find out what their requirements for getting the visa info stamped into the passport will be.
c) Begin working on those requirements (i.e. medical exam/police background check)
- Things you can do now (without a civil ID):
a) Research cars and decide what you are going to do there (rent/lease/buy)
b) Research apartments/villas/etc… I was lucky and found the place I knew we had to be pretty quick, but I have some pointers on this if I were to do it again.
c) Depending on your requirements, you may decide it is better to hold off on these things and save money up til closer to when your wife gets here. I didn't do this, but others have, it's a personal preference thing.
d) Start saving as much money as you can towards the fees/postage you are going to have to pay at every step of the process.
- As a round figure, I would estimate that we've spent between $15,000 and $20,000 on total move costs. I had to pull a lot of cash over at times and was able to utilize a friend's local bank account and wire the money over. That's a lot of trust…if you have a better solution for moving lots of cash feel free to use it.

Ok, here's the big list. I have not detailed all the fees along the way. I think I do a better job (if haphazard and disorganized) of documenting that part in my blog entries.

1) Buy/lease/rent a car (this can be an adventure in itself)
2) Find your own place and move out
3) Start claiming your housing/car allowance from ITT (Notify Ish)
4) Authenticate marriage cert: Have your wife start on this ASAP.
a) Contact your State Authentication department and ask what is needed for them to authenticate a Marriage cert. They may direct you to a county first.
b) Get your marriage cert authenticated by the State.
c) Get your marriage cert authenticated by the State Department (federal level).
d) Send the authenticated doc to yourself in Kuwait.
e) Get your marriage cert translated (translators listed on kuwait US Embassy website)
f) Get your marriage cert authenticated by the US Embassy in Kuwait.
g) Get your marriage cert authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authentication department (you need a 5KD stamp before they'll do it)
5) Family Visa Application
a) Take the authenticated documents along with your Salary cert and work permit (just photocopy everything like 10 times) to the Ahmadi Immigration department (closest one). You'll need to go to a little building and ask for a family visa application (keep in mind this is all for the family visa, which means your wife can not work while here, I do not know about the other types of visas…). They'll type it up for you in arabic (make sure the english spelling of your wife's name is correct!). You then take this to a very hard to find office where a lady takes your papers and gives you an idea of when to come back.
b) When you come back, if everything is in order, you'll take these somewhere else in the same warren of buildings to have it stamped for expediting. BTW, you should be able to estimate by this time when you can expect to be able to bring her over, so you should be able to buy her ticket.
6) Send visa to Consulate or Embassy in the US
a) Then back to the same place you got the license authenticated and things got confusing for me, but eventually someone took me up to an office where they stamped something else and sent it as a fax to the Kuwaiti Consulate in LA (you can either send it there or to the Embassy in DC). This is to help speed the process up, otherwise I think you have to wait for them to mail it. Oh wait, I'm reading my blog again and am reminded that I had to get more "prints" of the visa. I ended up getting these somehow from the office in the Liberation Tower, but I think I may have been able to get them from any Immigration office (i.e. Ahmadi). It was just a simple typed up arabic printout of the visa I think. Maybe it was for faxing so it would transmit better? I dunno. Anyway, after I got that I went back to the authentication office and they did their thing and faxed it.
b) Found out that my wife needed to contact the Consulate and send them her passport, a medical checkup and a police background check. You should be sure to contact them ASAP to find out what exactly they need (it may have changed), and get your wife working on anything she can right now (i.e. checkup/background check). We didn't know about this til the last minute and were biting our fingernails to see if we could get it all done by the time she had to leave.
c) They (consulate/embassy) do something magic to the passport and send it back to your wife and she is now legally allowed to travel to Kuwait. Note that the visa provides for I think 2 months to contact the Immigration department and begin application for Residency and Civil ID (iqama). We decided to hire a local guy who works for KRH to do this part for us and are glad we did. It cost about 50KD per person (my son came over too) for his fee. The actual residency/insurance, etc… was much more.


KuwaitStay Community said...

Pretty good and comprehensive article. I have something on the same from an Indian perspective.

marlyn perito said...

hi..i just wanna ask if the medical and police backgroung were requirements that should be stamped in kuwait embassy from the place youre wife is?my husband is an american citizen and im a filipina.hes planning to get me with the same visa you applied.im a little bit comfuse about the medical ang police background. how about the day your wife leave, is her passport had a stamp from kuwait embassy? pls hope for your reply