A Story of Deportation – by Dr. Spilchuk

tourist-visa44486779..Dr. Spilchuk, International Schools Review On Line Teacher Advisor, periodically publicizes her interactions with teachers.  She does this so other International Educators can learn from their colleagues experiences and thus make informed decisions along their career paths. Dr. Spilchuk counseled the “deported” teacher in this article. She has omitted the teacher’s name and the name of the school for the teacher’s security.

This is my story:

“I was placed in the detention area of immigration in the Kuwaiti airport and questioned by immigration officials. I was then placed in the hands of ground services. About 9 hours later, ground services  Read more…

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54 Responses to A Story of Deportation – by Dr. Spilchuk

  1. Wendy Soane says:

    I was given a contract by a Kuwait school which actually stated that the school would pay for me to fly out of the country and return to renew my visitor’s visa every three months until they could organise my work permit! The fact that the teacher had to face the immigration officials and state their reasons for visiting the country! Shocking practice!

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  2. meinkuwait says:

    Entering on a visit visa and working for a couple of months is actually very common in Kuwait. If you get hired late spring or during the summer, there is not enough time to process your paper work to get a work visa. So generally when you get there they take your documents and they begin the work visa process. At some point you go out to usually Bahrain and do your medical testing and Kuwait embassy visit and you go back to Kuwait and are legit. It may sound extremely risky but it is so common the airport customs knows exactly what is going on and it is not a big deal.

    The problem with this situation is that the school didn’t want to hire this person as an overseas hire probably for financial reasons. Because they were listing this employee as a local hire they were not going to pay for a work visa and other paper work for residence papers.. If they had paid for all of this, that person would be required to be called an overseas hire.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Please excuse the lengthy post, but it is so ironic I read the post above, considering I am right now in a similar situation…

    While I am not in the exact same boat, I have been grounded in the US for the past 3 months, since winter break, due to the fact that the school has never been successful in getting our work visas processed. The mess started first semester and just continued on in to this current semester. While I disagree with schools brining in their new foreign hires on tourist visas (because of what situation has developed now with me and others), I also recognize that they rely on government agencies to process paperwork. The problem I have is that I don’t know when/if I will get back to work. I am still getting paid, but it is like I have been forgotten in some ways at the school, especially now with political turmoil, which has interrupted the school’s calendar and day-to-day operations. I feel little self-worth right now because I am not in control and I cannot fulfill the duties of my job, although I can do a lot in keeping in contact with Technology.
    The fact that I don’t know when/if I will get back with a legal work visa is really killing my spirits. I have incurred so much in expenses, one partly because I don’t have my own place to live in (gave everything up when I started overseas teaching), I must buy a lot of take-out food, and I have no idea how to budget solely for the fact that I could get news any day I am going back, or in this case, it will be maybe another month. I have been strung along since mid-January, when the initial time-frame was 1-2 weeks to no greater than 5 weeks.
    Another problem–I asked the school several times if/how they would help with expenses incurred here. Am I to stay inside as a hobbit, or am I afforded opportunities to go have some fun (of course, at my own expense)? Being that I never received any single indication of “yes” or “no” the school would be helping, I am again in a state of limbo which is discomforting. To be ignored on this end is frustrating, although I had communicated via Skype and in writing that the financial realities of living in the States is nothing comparable to where I am to be living abroad and working. Let’s just say, when I signed my contract, I didn’t budget for 3 months living expenses of the States.
    Here’s another concern–the uncertainty of the visa situation has forced many others to abort and decide they are not coming back. The school already has a high turnover, which is sad because I honestly LOVE the job (when I was there), love the leadership, who up until this happened, were extremely supportive of the work I was doing, and amidst all the downfalls of living in a tough country, the school was like an oasis. I felt pretty well taken care of, which was not the case at all in my previous international school experience. So my other question: Is it fair to be applying to other schools and being up front and honest that this has really been a strain on me? This problem began in September/October, where my passport was held, locked in an office and the agents were not stamping any passports. It got so bad, we lost an expensive out-of-country trip for our first break in the school year b/c my passport was not back. The school did the right thing and reimbursed me in the lost hotel expenses, etc. and promised I could take this trip at another time in the year (which when i rescheduled I lost again b/c this problem has not kept me in the States for the last three months). It continued to wreak havoc and add stress as it became personal. My father was dying going in to November. Sure, I lost one trip already and that was a set back after 11 weeks straight of work without a day (minus weekends, of course) off, but to be told I would have to take a bus alone almost 12 hours to the American embassy to now apply for a brand new US passport because the guy responsible for stamping and issuing our visas had it locked in a safe, he wasn’t returning to his regular duties anytime soon, etc. Now I was at the mercy of having to travel within a short time frame based on a doctor’s notice for me to come home to say good-bye to my father. I was up and down emotionally a wreck at this point. It would have been a death warrant for me to ride alone in a dangerous country half way across it to obtain a new passport, and whose gave them the right to just hold it captive? I was supremely angry, so much so I didn’t tell my parents because they were dealing with enough already as my father’s condition worsened.
    I did end up getting my passport back and getting back a week later to the States to visit my father. However, I was told with the other foreign hires that because of the time frame and everyone leaving (traveling) for the Thanksgiving holiday and for the winter break, we’d have to resume this process again second semester. That meant fake plane tickets issued so that when we came back on another tourist visa, we’d have to lie and say we are tourists and that we have a ticket to leave. Fine and dandy, right? No. My husband and I were traveling in Europe for the holidays, and my father finally passed away the day after Christmas. Thankfully I was able to see him in November when I got my passport back! We flew back to the States. I was taking bereavement leave and would return to our school a few days after my husband in early January. He went back, armed with his ‘fake ticket’ coming in as a ‘tourist’ (trust me, this angers me that we must lie and say we are tourists because the school cannot get us our visas), while i was still in the States with family.
    Well, he was denied entry. Another couple a day before him were denied entry and being that it is a smaller airport, when Immigration were questioning this couple, a school family tried to step in and help, which was a red flag, letting Immigration authorities know this couple was indeed working on a tourist visa. I don’t blame Immigration–they were doing their job (just not the other gov’t offices b/c they weren’t issuing any visas to begin with to allow all of us to legally re-enter!). So they were turned around and sent back to the US with a stamp that said denied entry in their passport. My husband came through and the same thing. His passport was taken from him, he was held in a detention room without any food until the morning (after a 40-hour day of travelling nonetheless), and then held again for another 12 hours with a ‘guard’ of some sort in detention in the Panama Immigration area in the airport until he got on the plane to Chicago. He had to have someone with him at all times, like he was a terrorist threat. Now, he was not treated badly, and he handled it very well. But it was draining for him. I happened to be awake, almost going to bed when my Superintendent sent me a very vague email stating that my husband was not admitted into the country and he was ‘on his way home.’ Home? Where? US? That, less than one week after my father’s passing, was the icing on the cake.
    I apologize for this lengthy post, but I feel it is necessary after the detained teacher’s story. Anyway, he was sent back and I didn’t see him until days later because of the wonderful Polar Vortex that shut down airports, bus stations, etc. It is like the movie The Terminal or something. I can laugh about that part now because I was not the one experiencing it. So, here we sat, living in a friend’s basement for the last few months and wondering if we will ever make it back. The other couple already said they will not return after this year. All of our belongings sit in our apartment back there, meanwhile there is turmoil in the country that has even further delayed the process. I am starting to wonder if we are destined to stop international teaching, as my husband has stated time and time again, or if this is just a sign we are not to be there? And as time went on, the communication kept dwindling.
    Now, the school cannot give us an answer as to when it will be to return legally, even though they said it would be okay to return on another tourist visa. We said no way. I don’t even trust the country or school to EVER take my passport again. I mean, I know that is part of how things work, but I sure hope the school learns from this, becomes more proactive and takes care to ensure that they change their course of action as things in the country continue to worsen. It is already tough attracting new hires, and it is a shame because this is a great school, with committed teachers, leaders and local hire staff. I miss my friends, I miss my job and my colleagues. But I don’t know how much longer I can continue to hold out and keep ‘patient’ while the school works on getting me a proper visa to work.

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  4. deported teacher says:

    This is Deported Teacher. Thank you for all the thoughtful replies. In response to one reader, there is more to the story. There always is. I went to Kuwait in June to visit-not to work or tutor. School X, where I worked Oct.-Jan., offered me many tutoring jobs. I turned down all offers. In response to another reader, yes, I was like a Filipino or Indian. An expat. Expats in GCC countries are all in the same boat. Don’t kid yourself if you are an American and think you have immunity or wasta. You don’t. There was a time when American teachers were held in a bit higher esteem, but those days are over. For the average American teacher in Kuwait, the salaries are on the low side and housing is minimalistic. In school X housing, my refrigerator was in the living room and my sink/stove was about one yard from the bathroom. No real kitchen, just a counter area with the sink and stove.
    Actually, I was locally hired. I was not a “local hire.” My contract was the same as international hires. It included round trip airfare, life insurance, and health insurance. When School X hired me, they sent their own representative to Immigration to pay my penalty for the overextended visitor visa. If there was a problem and my situation was not rectified, School X should have told me to leave the country. I would have cleared out of Kuwait with all of my belongings. Instead they continued with the hiring process and sent me to Dubai so that I could return with another visitor visa. It is against Kuwait labor laws to hire illegal workers. This is human trafficking. Human trafficking leads to the possible exploitation, possible imprisonment and possible deportation of expats. At this time Kuwait is under scrutiny for visa trafficking/human trafficking as it should be. Many governments, including Kuwait, and many human rights groups are watching Kuwait closely. Each business/school gets so many work visas from the government based upon need. This is one way Kuwait is trying to cut down on visa trafficking. Feel free to google: Visa Trafficking in Kuwait. The government of Kuwait and their main stream press recognize the problem. Many expats entered Kuwait on an entry visa; no different from a visitor visa. It is illegal to work without a work visa. School owners like to pretend that there is no way they can do all that paperwork before school starts in September. But they can. They want to test drive their investment-you. It is rather easy to get rid of someone during the probation period. They don’t want to waste one precious work visa on someone who might not work out. They can save the cost of the visa and they then have the visa free to sell to the highest bidder if they choose to do so. Not all groups sell fraudulent visas, but some do. School X waited one month before they called me in to sign the final contract. They changed the terms. My 150 KD settling allowance became a loan. The life insurance policy of $100,000 became a policy equivalent to your salary. Well, I made about 40,000, so that is a difference of about 60,000 dollars. Many expats do not realize that the ‘local hire’ scheme of hiring is rife with illegal workers. Of course, local hires get paid less than international hires. Many of them are under the sponsorship of a spouse and they are not allowed to work. If they seek a work visa they have to go under the sponsorship of their employer. That would leave many of them without insurance. It would also mean that if one spouse were to lose a job and have to leave the country immediately-the other spouse would be stuck under contract in Kuwait. It usually is not in the best interest for a ‘local hire’ who is under the sponsorship of a spouse to seek their own work visa. That is why many agree to work for less money. For those in Kuwait, ask some of the local hires in your school if they have a work visa. You know, teachers, assistants, and secretaries under the sponsorship of a spouse if they have a work visa. See how far that gets you. (See you in America). What happens when the Ministry shows up at your school? Where do they hide the illegals?
    School X has close to 2000 students. I was one of five fourth grade teachers. I was hired quickly so they could fire the previous teacher. Then I found out the students and parents loved that guy. I made a mental note to myself. On October 13, I started working at School X and so did another fourth grade teacher. He was a replacement teacher for another who got axed. The replacement lasted a week or two. He was replaced by a teacher who has a husband working in Kuwait. And down the hall, yet another fourth grade teacher who replaced a previous teacher who did not report back to Kuwait. This man started out at a different school in Kuwait. It did not work out so he joined School X.
    For anybody considering employment in Kuwait: do not think that the terms of your employment will remain the same once you get there, just because you signed a contract at a fair or in the States. Do not go to Kuwait until you have a work visa in your passport. They can get it done promptly if they want to.
    The private schools in Kuwait get by with many abuses of the system. It is time for a little transparency regarding work visas for all employees in private schools.
    The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor as well as Immigration should pay a visit to School X.

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    • Itaughtinkuwait says:

      To Deported Teacher – I wouldn’t wish what happened to you on anyone, sounds terrible, but my experience in Kuwait (4 years ending just last June) Was vastly different

      I know that my experience and that of many friends at other schools proves that some schools and school owners do the right thing while others don’t – I’m aware of three or four schools that you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole but I can also name 3-4 excellent schools that I know are good to their staff

      I wish you could name and shame here because I would hate teachers to cross Kuwait off their list of places to teach – it’s not too bad at all

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      • Overseas says:

        Deported Teacher. Please tell us the name of the school. If ISR wants it off they will take it off. I have yet to see them remove names. It seems to me it’s the poster that is trying to protect themselves by not putting the name. Since you are already gone from the place why not tell us the name? It would help us to know.

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        • Itaughtinkuwait says:

          Sure I’m happy to name good-bad schools.

          Some schools I know to be good – The English Acadamy, Kuwait English School, BSK and FSIS
          Some schools I know to be below par – Dasman Model School, Oxford Girls Acadamy and The Cambridge School

          The basis for these are I’ve worked in them, know teachers who’ve taught in them or have friends with kids as students in them.

          But whatever school in Kuwait you choose, make sure you’re legal, your paperwork is in top shape and you’re respectful to all Kuwaitis you deal with, in ministries, the school and parents – you do this then you are going to be happy at work🙂

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    • Dear Deported Teacher…Thank you for clarifying so many points in your letter. And thank you for raising this very important issue with the ISR reading public. I know it is frustrating for many teachers not to know which school you are referring to. I also know that to publicize that school’s name would cause you immeasurable potential harm. I have not heard whether or not you safely returned back to the US. Can you please let me/ISR know? For those reading Deported Teacher’s story, please know that this situation is not unique…it is simply that no one has come forward before to share their experiences.

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    • William says:

      Thank you very much for sharing your story. It is important that teachers continue to share and discuss, so that we can make informed decisions on working in countries like this. I appreciate your honesty and I know that, as Dr Spilchuck mentioned, this is not a unique case, it is very common in Kuwait.

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  5. Atilla Woebegone says:

    I agree with the first commenter. This teacher knew they were overstaying and were prepared to take the chance. The tourist visa clearly states one is not allowed to work, yet the teacher sought and took up employment. Of course the school took advantage of their staff member’s illegality to change things on the contract. The person is not in any position to complain. Why don’t people do things correctly when seeking to work? They can’t blame anyone else but themselves when it goes into free fall.

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  6. trav45 says:

    I’m with the majority of teachers here. I have very little sympathy for someone who was knowingly breaking the rules, however ISR tries to spin it into yet another example of outrageous school behavior. Move on. No story here.

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    • Satisfied says:

      I agree with you that there is no reason to have any sympathy for this teacher. But why are you so angry with ISR. All they are doing is posting an event. Do you see them taking a side…no! I think they are just helping teachers to avoid making the same mistake. I think you need to move on and get over this anger at an organization that is only trying to help us.

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      • Catherine says:

        Dear Satisfied,

        I agree with your views. trav45 sounds to me as someone who has never taught in one of these countries, or has had a dream school and cannot understand what it is like to arrive and find the school from hell or is an administrator who carries out these types of nightmares and can see nothing wrong with it. Keep up the great work ISR. Thousands of new teachers out there need this realistic advice.

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    • “Satisfied” and “Catherine”, below, are exactly correct. ISR has never waffled at taking a strong stand in dealing with a school that knowingly undermines a teacher’s livelihood, professionalism or credibility. We do not believe this was the case in this situation although there is a question to consider and to contemplate. We do believe the general ISR public has the right to be warned about working illegally, however.

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  7. Liz says:

    Contracts are not valid without a work visa, residency and ministry approval – it is clearly mentioned in the contract. I seriously doubt that the school would have reported her as it jeopardises their status for new employee residencies and would result in a fine for the school. I am 13 years in Kuwait and find the work situation positive in the reputable schools. Don’t let this incident put you off considering Kuwait – just do your homework researching the school to check it out before accepting a contract.

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  8. China Teacher says:

    Sorry, I’m having trouble working up the tearful sobs. You knowingly and willfully flaunted Kuwaiti law. You put yourself in a very vulnerable position. Your employer may or may not have realized your vulnerability and exploited it, so what? You did this to yourself.

    And now that you are caught, you want to blame Kuwait, you want to blame the employer, anybody within reach to duck your own responsibility. You reveal this inborn attitude of arrogance and superiority that we westerners tend to have — that we are divinely exempt from any foreign law or practice we disagree with, because our way is so much better. and it makes you so angry when you discover the world doesn’t work this way.

    I worked five years in the Gulf and I fully recognize the region’s problems of totalitarian governments and unscrupulous schools. But this story is not about that in the slightest; it is about one person’s arrogance and foolishness.

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    • Perhaps, China Teacher. I think, however, that this story is a very good warning for others who may get caught in the same situation through naivety. I’m quite thankful that this teacher shared her story with ISR. Whether it puts her in a good light or not, is not the point I am trying to make. Without her being brave enough to share her story, we would not be having this conversation and so many of you have such a wealth of information to share with new teachers!

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    • trav45 says:

      I’m with you, China Teacher

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      • Atilla Woebegone says:

        Me too. You admit you intended to stay on a visa that seemed to let you pay to overstay. I hate to think what would befall me should I attempt this in the USA. Do things honestly or stay at home. No sympathy at all. In fact, the Kuwaitis should be much tougher.

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  9. Gretchen Ivey says:

    I know this sounds harsh but I would recommend all teachers avoid teaching in the Arab Gulf States. I spent 2 years in Bahrain and 1 in Dubai. All I found were terrible schools.The Middle East is rife with them. Several of my fellow teaching colleagues have stated the same thing. Look for jobs elsewhere if you want to go abroad. Behind all the glitz and glamour of Dubai and the Emirates lies outdated laws, unfair practices and unprofessionalism.

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    • Sue says:

      This is unfair – I have been teaching in an excellent school in Dubai for 4 years & have 20 years of international experience in other top schools around the world. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend my school to any professional teacher. Yes there are some “poor” schools here & like anywhere you have to do your research, but such a blanket condemnation is uncalled for.

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      • Atilla Woebegone says:

        As someone who worked in ADEC HQ and visited many schools, I can assure Gretchen that the schools themselves are not poor; it is the teachers at all levels in some of them that provide a poor level of education to students and deprive parents of value for money. The UAE welcomes dedicated, enthusiastic teachers who look further than the monthly paycheck and the good life i.e. the sort of teacher demanded by good schools in the west. The effort being made to improve schools is apace and people are being held to account. As Sue says: do you homework but do not tar all with the same brush.

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  10. Nick Williams says:

    Your publication does itself a disservice by not naming the school, there are 4/5 excellent schools in Kuwait – just as there are 4/5 dubious schools. I feel it forms part of your remit to warn the prospective international teacher who the more dubious schools are. I lived and worked in Kuwait at an excellent school for 3 years…I know the dubious ones, and they can cause a load of trouble in what essentially is an “immature” state as far as human rights goes.

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    • Catherine says:

      I agree with Nick. Please ask the person who was deported to lodge a review of the school on your site warning others of the problems. The trouble is so many inexperienced teachers are now prepared to travel to work and that is good but they believe the HR people or the Director and they are the ones who know that are telling lies. So even if you do your homework before accepting a position and if you query something you do not like you are usually told all will be well once you are on the ground. HA HA. Do not fall for it. If it is not in place then perhaps the school if one of the poor ones and it is these schools that are giving the place a bad reputation. The good schools keep their staff and usually give out contracts early well before the academic year ends. If they have a vacancy it is usually filled very quickly.

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    • Thanks Nick. The problem for this teacher is that there are charges outstanding in Kuwait against her. By posting the teacher’s name and the school, ISR could, potentially, put the teacher in further jeopardy. The point of this article is to let teachers know about Work VISA and their importance in keeping a teacher legal whether and expat or a local hire.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “4/5 excellent schools in Kuwait”? Where did you get this statistics from? And what are your criteria for a “good” school in corrupt states? Because you enjoyed your privileges working at some internationals school for some filthy rich children doesn’t mean it’s a good school! In those “immature” states there are no “good” schools for the money people pay for their children’s education often come from their corrupted deals, i.e. stolen from the poor and underprivileged. Working for those “good” schools you become apart of the corrupted system and unwillingly promote it. Admit it that most of educators work at countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (the worst of them all) for the money!

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      • Nick Williams says:

        Aren’t you a bitter sanctimonious tosser, too afraid to put your name to a post, you know nothing about me, or where I’ve worked and what work I do….grow up champion.

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        • Anonymous says:

          My name won’t tell you anything and you are right that I don’t know anything about you. All I know is that you claim to know all schools in Kuwait so well that you can tell that 4/5 of them are “good” schools. I was just curious about your criteria and expressed my opinion on what a good school is not. I am also aware that most Western teachers choose to work at countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia for bigger pay checks, and other privileges enjoyed by a few. Maybe you are different.

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        • trav45 says:

          Ignore that person. It’s the ISR troll who thinks all international teachers are part of the 1% out to take advantage of the host-country locals.

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          • Satisfied says:

            Who is the troll here? You seem to be on a campaign to attack ISR. You must be an administrator in Kuwait. If you think 4/5 schools there are great, I’m seriously doubting your motives in posting to this blog.

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            • Nick Williams says:

              Get a life – if you read my response to the original thread I’m telling ISR to name and shame dodgy schools in Kuwait to help prospective employees, how does that make me an administrator – do me a favor loser don’t hide behind a false name and fire shots at legitimate users of this board, go and grow some balls

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  11. William says:

    I think it would be naive to say that ALL the teachers in ALL the schools in Kuwait have Civil ID. Even the ‘best’ British and American hire a proportion of teachers on a tourist visa due to complications with procedures in their own country/time limits. To get the formalities done it costs a lot of money and about 2 months. Not all teachers can be hired 2 months before the new school year and some change their mind last minute. Ultimately the schools need to run and with the system as it is they cannot, completely legally.
    Usually the school gets a fine if they have illegal teachers but I have never heard of any American teachers being deported as a result.
    I have been at the visa desk when a friend was asked why she had come to Kuwait. Her response “I work here”. There were no repercussions whatsoever.

    It’s very easy to say that this teacher should have known better but if you have lived in Kuwait you will know that many of the laws are not enforced and there is a large amount of corruption. In this case it would appear that the school used their influence to get rid of the teacher and what a horrible, shocking experience it must have been.

    If all the teachers followed the rules and refused to take jobs on tourist visa’s the schools would be failing or closing down. Kuwait’s education system relies heavily on international schools which I’m sure is why the authorities normally turn a blind eye.

    With regard to the visa running out. I have been left in the position where I had outstayed and had to pay a fine. This is only because the school I was at first assured me they would process my civil ID and did not and then decided they were not going to pay me for the last months work. I had no money to leave the country or buy a flight and until I managed to get that money I was illegal. I had no other choice.

    Teaching in Kuwait is a complex issue. Everyone should be aware that ANYTHING can happen from one day to the next. You should always have a pot of money and plan B for when the unexpected strikes or just go somewhere else.

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    • Thanks William! Your advice is critical…and timely for all teachers, wherever they are!

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    • China Teacher says:

      Second- and third-tier schools in Kuwait, and anywhere for that matter, can use illegal labor because, frankly, there is a steady supply of teachers who are naive or willing or desperate enough to take these illicit jobs.

      You want to end this practice? Shut off the supply of these teachers. It should be a major undertaking of the international school community to educate candidates, and take other appropriate measures such blacklisting sketchy schools.

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      • Unfortunately, China Teacher, as long as recruiters work with dicey international schools and promote them at job fairs, the problems will continue. The onus is on the teacher to beware. ISR tries to open doors to help teachers research potential schools to be able to do just that.

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  12. Michelle says:

    When you have worked in a country all expats know the law of the land. It’s often a topic of conversation !

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    • William says:

      I agree, including the Principles and senior staff who have usually been there a long time. If the teachers are to blame then so are the people that hire them. It is a collective responsibility.

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  13. Hillary says:

    The person in this “story” was either extremely naive or trying to play the system for some inexplicable reason. Given that she had lived in Kuwait previously, I would say she was trying to play the system. Perhaps she was one of those who returned, thinking she could live from tutoring money alone, and then took the job “on a whim.” There was a huge crackdown on illegals in Kuwait in Spring 2013 and it continues until now. The school I work for has been forced to play the visit visa game for the past three years, not because they want to, but because the bureauracracy is very slow, even with renewal of Civil IDs. What used to be a 3-day turn-around can now take 3 months. Quite frankly, everyone considering employment in Kuwait needs to remember that it IS a foreign country with its own rules and government. Schools and embassies can only support staff in such situations if the staff work within the limits of the law. This particular individual conducted herself on the level of many illegal nannies and maids hired as disposable persons by Kuwaiti schools; therefore, she opened herself up to being treated as such when it came down to the fine print. She should have known better, because unlike the maids and nannies, I’m sure she could read English.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The bottom line is don’t work without a work permit and be highly suspect of any schools that do not provide a work permit immediately or state that they will secure a work permit in the contact.

    Now in some countries it does take time to get the work permit. My current employer is in one of those countries. However if you talk to teachers already employed they can explain the process to you and give reassurances that they have received their visa.

    The person in the example above is lucky they were not jailed! Do not violate a nation’s sovereignty EVER. I also do not believe them when they say they did not know they were in violation. Anytime you have to pay an overstay penalty it means you are in violation of the country’s immigration law. If the teacher is that ignorant perhaps it is not safe for them to work internationally.

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  15. Ms. Reyes says:

    I agree with the rest of the comments. She overstayed her tourist visa which is only for visit NOT for work. I feel bad for her, but this should know better. If you accept a contract with an illegal visa you know what you are getting into. This a situation that can happen anywhere in the world, not just to workers in the ME.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I also think there’s something fishy in this. I don’t think we have all the information. Two things that are crucial here though are that she was not a local hire (a local hire must have the right to be hired in a country – that is they have a residency visa or residency status – not someone on vacation overstaying their visitor’s visa), and that the story is … I was breaking the law or ignorant of it, everyone does it, I got caught, unfair … Sadly, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

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  16. Satisfied says:

    Okay…so after five months in Kuwait she decided to go look for a job and on a “whim”. She had already overstayed her visa by two months but says that had the school told her the money she sent with the drive wasn’t sufficient to cover the penalties she would have left the country immediately. Really???? Who goes to Kuwait for 5 months to just hang around? This all sounds fishy to me and like a transfer of guilt by the teacher to the school. Maybe the school did rat on her…so be it!

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  17. hoosierstorm says:

    I am surprised that this person who had worked in Kuwait previously was not aware of the potential problems with accepting employment while in Kuwait on a visitor’s visa. Yes, it is true that people do this, but at their own peril.
    I had been offered a teaching position by a private school in Kuwait and when the visa application process extended into the school year they said, ‘Come on a visitor’s visa.’
    There was no way that I would have ever done that because it leaves one you totally without any legal standing and vulnerable to any and all double dealing by the school. So I called the principal and said, ‘Thanks, but not thanks.’

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  18. Jerry says:

    If you mess around with tourist visas and teaching, you’re gonna have a bad time.

    Like

  19. Catherine says:

    Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
    Thanks for raising this problem and for your frank opinion on the situation.
    I have been in a very similar situation in Kuwait a few years ago but I did not get deported. I would not go on a visitors visa as a foreign hire in management and insisted on a Business Visa. Because I was replacing a person who left in December they managed to get me this type of visa. They stated many times that after 3 months they would convert it to a Work Visa. As time neared for the Visa they wanted me to get my degree attested even though I had the original with me. Next they wanted a new Police Clearance signed off by foreign Affairs and the Kuwait Embassy in my home country. By the time I organised and paid for all of this and had paperwork DHL sent to Kuwait I could not give them my passport as the end of the academic year was near and I needed it to travel. I discussed all this with HR and they stated they might be able to get it when I returned in late August. I had to keep leaving the country every 3months at my expense. When it neared November and I still did not have it my D/P visited HR with me and we were informed that they had tired several days previously and that Immigration would not grant it because I had turned 60. When I put it to them that one of the staff had informed me that she had checked out why she and several others had no visa she was told that the school were well aware of the reason as they had too any illegals employed. At all times I renewed my visa on arrival in Kuwait the staff were very pleasant but it was very obvious that they knew I was working there. Never did they ask any questions about my address and when they had an amnesty one of our staff were asked to paid a large sum of money. I left the country at the end of my contract but my embassy told me when I went to renew my visa to get out that day as they would unable to help me. Many schools in this country play this game and it is very wrong. With no work visa if you get into any incident, accident etc you could/would end up in jail. The Directors. HR and many others know all the dangers you face but they could care little about your welfare.

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    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Catherine! You clarify the situation beautifully! Best of luck in the future!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right that many schools do this. It is so common it is expected that each year schools will have a good percentage on visit visa. I was fortunate that my school was able to push mine thru in a timely manner. I had my attestation done before I got there, knowing that I would have to have that in order to get a work visa. There were about 10 of us who came in on visit visas. 3 of us were processed in early November but the others were not ready until December and January. Interestingly enuf the 3 of us that were processed first all have Arabic names.

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