Access to Expats bank account tied to ‘residency’; Expiry could trigger freeze.

According to informed sources, local banks have been restricting expatriates from accessing their money in their bank accounts as soon as their residency permit expires. This restriction includes withdrawal of salary or a deposit, reports Al-Rai daily. They explained that the local banks apply this procedure not only to their expatriate customers whose cards had expired for a long time, but even to those with the newly expired cards.

The restriction begins from the first day of expiry of the residency permit. This procedure is also applied to their Bedoun customers. The point of view of these banks is that they opened the bank account for their customer based on the fact that he holds the legal capacity of a valid resident of Kuwait. In the event that the civil ID card expires, he becomes an illegal resident.

This change in status legally requires the banks not to deal with him, similar to any government agency that does the same and considers it a violation of the residency law. The expiry of civil ID card in some banks entails restricting all regular money withdrawal movements for these customers either from the deposited amounts or from the salary, or even from the end-of -service indemnity, if any, and other funds. In addition, borrowing requests are frozen, even if the customer obtained an initial approval from the bank, before the expiry of his civil ID, to finance him, as he fulfills the conditions for borrowing. The financing restriction in this regard includes direct loans, as well as credit card financing that allows the customer to obtain monthly financing, such as withdrawals from Visa and MasterCard cards.

The sources went on to explain that clients were finally surprised by the suspension of the use of their ATM cards. When they visited the concerned bank branch, the official informed them that this procedure was due to the expiry of their civil cards, and that this would continue until the renewal of their residency data. They are prevented from freely disposing of their money even through the bank branch unless their civil ID cards are renewed. It is a known fact that there is an electronic link between banks and the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI).

Usually the customer is notified in the event of the expiry of his civil ID card regarding the need to update his data, which happens with the bank sending text messages to his registered phone number. He is also notified through automatic withdrawal machines (ATM) if he uses them, knowing that banks communicate with the covered customers through three consecutive text messages at least one month before the expiry date of the civil ID card.

The procedure for restricting the bank account in the event of the expiry of the civil card is not applied to the same degree by all banks, as dealing with these customers differs from one bank to another. There are banks that are not strict with them to the maximum extent by preventing their access to bank accounts, and being satisfied by just requesting any other valid identification papers for the period, especially if the civil ID card’s expiry date is recent. It is estimated in this regard that there are procedural reasons for the delay in residency renewal. Among the copies of papers that are accepted by the bank are a passport or driver’s license.

There are other banks that reduce the maximum withdrawal limit for the customers whose civil ID cards have expired. If they allow withdrawal up to KD 2,000 per day normally, they reduce the rate to KD 500, for example, in an attempt to motivate the customer to speed up correcting his legal status and renewing his residency. In order to avoid restricting the movement of withdrawing funds completely in the event that the customer is unable to renew his civil ID card, there is a procedural way out that may guarantee the permission to withdraw the frozen balances temporarily. It is by applying to the concerned bank with a request to close the bank account.

The bank accepts the disbursement of the balances, provided that it includes presenting valid identification papers confirming that the customer is the same person with the legal capacity to complete this procedure. The sources indicated that clients usually do not prefer to resort to this procedure, especially those who face a temporary problem in renewing their residency data. The reason for this is that if the account is closed, the client may face many challenges in opening a new account, especially if he receives low monthly salaries, as many banks do not accept dealing with them.

Source- Arab Times.

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