One really great thing about moving to Kuwait is that I was able to move here at the same time as Kyle. For many countries, spouses have to wait 1-3 months before they are able to obtain a visa. As an American, I was able to obtain a 3 month tourist visa upon arrival to Kuwait. This allowed me to be in the country while my residential visa was being processed with the University where Kyle is employed. Here is my experience of obtaining a Kuwait visa as a spouse.
Apologies for the lack of photos – we didn’t visit anywhere with a good view and what we did see of Bahrain wasn’t very pretty. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken pictures of the government buildings, but c’est la vie.
Kyle obtained his work visa prior to leaving the States. We both completed FBI background checks, fingerprinting, and full medical workups. This included blood work and chest x-rays for tuberculosis screening. We also each had several copies of passport photos made.
All of Kyle’s tests, information, and photos allowed him to obtain his work visa. As it turned out, my photos, x-rays (I had two sets done thanks to a small “blip” being on my first set), and medical tests done in the States were never looked at. My fingerprints and FBI background check were needed though.
Once we got here, Kyle had to give his passport to the University for them to complete his residential visa along with getting his Civil ID and Driver’s License. I didn’t have to do anything further until all of his paperwork was complete. We were informed that for my visa, we would have to go to Bahrain for a medical check and issuance of a temporary visa.
When the University was ready to begin the process of obtaining my visa, we were given a month’s time frame to choose when we wanted to go to Bahrain.
When we arrived in Bahrain we took a taxi to the hotel, which was in the middle of the city. The next morning we went to the Kuwait Embassy as soon as they opened. My husband was not allowed into the Embassy with me because he wore shorts!
Luckily it was fine, the only reason for visiting the Embassy that first time was so they could record my passport number and give me a slip of paper with directions to their health screening facilities and tell me to return within 24 hours.
Getting a taxi in the Embassy area proved quite difficult! There were none available on the street. We had to walk down a couple of blocks and find a cafe with wifi so we could order an Uber, and even then it was quite difficult for them to find us. This was probably the second most frustrating part of our trip to Bahrain.
If it’s your first trip to the Embassy, I would recommend asking your taxi driver to wait for you outside. All of our expenses were reimbursed by the University, so just remember to ask for a receipt.
Once we got to our taxi we went directly to the health clinic. The taxi driver was not familiar with the location, and Kyle had to pull up the address on his phone and direct him.
When we got there, I was first asked for a urine sample. Not exactly sure what this test was for since it was not needed for any of the tests done in the States, nor in Kuwait.
I can only relate to you my experience, and perhaps I just happened to go at a bad time, but. The bathroom where I was to provide my sample had NO toilet paper, and . . . wait for it . . . NO soap. Really??? I was SO mad. First of all, the entire trip to Bahrain seemed absolutely insane, but then add to that no soap in the health clinic bathroom and I was done. I found some hand sanitizer behind the desk but that was the best I could do.
After that they took a blood sample. Then we had to pay. I swore I would remember how much everything cost but, of course, I didn’t. I **think** it was in the neighborhood of 60 KWD (almost $200 USD). Regardless, they only accepted cash and there was no ATM anywhere close. They ended up accepting a mix of BHD (Bahraini Dinar) and KWD because we weren’t expecting to need that much cash. After we paid, they told us they would send the test results to the embassy by the next day.
After that we were pointed across the street for the chest x-ray. The woman demanded that my hair be put up on top of my head before she would do it. I didn’t have a hair band with me and the one she gave me was barely big enough to fit two fingers in. Getting my very thick, mid-back length hair it was a bit of a challenge to get it to stay up.
The door to the x-ray room also opens directly into the waiting room. Full of husbands. So, I’d recommend wearing a camisole under your top.
When that was finally over, we got to walk about two miles back to the hotel in 100 degree heat because we didn’t have ANY cash left from paying for the medical tests.
To summarize the super fun Bahrain medical experience, I would recommend you:
- Make sure your husband doesn’t wear shorts to the Embassy
- Have plenty of cash
- Take a packet of tissue and hand sanitizer with you
- Take a hair tie
- Wear a camisole under your top
Once we finally got back to the hotel and I had blisters the size of silver dollars on my feet, the torture for the day was finally over. Bring on the wine and beer!
The next morning we were back at the Embassy as soon as they opened. This time they took my passport and told us to come back at 1 PM.
After finally finding a taxi again, we went back to the hotel and up to the swimming pool for a little sun. Our flight was that evening so we checked out of our room, stored our bags at the front desk and went back to the Embassy for the third time.
We got there at 12:35 PM but were turned away and told not to return before 1 PM. They were open for passport pick-up for one hour only from 1-2PM. Again, it’s HOT outside, so we had no choice but to go across the street to a hotel and have a beer. We returned at exactly 1 PM and picked up my passport. Then we were left with a few hours left to kill before we needed to go back to the airport.
Yay for the whole experience being over, right?! Wrong.
Like I said before, Bahrain issued a temporary visa. The next week, a driver from the University took me and two other spouses to finish the process. First, we went to a fingerprinting facility. From this point on everything was conducted in Arabic only, so the driver was the only one speaking to the workers. There was quite a line to complete our fingerprints.
Once that was done, we got back in the car and drove very far to the north of Kuwait to the medical facility. That’s right . . . all of the medical test, including the x-rays have to be done ALL OVER AGAIN. This was my 4th set of chest x-rays. Anyone wanna take a bet as to whether or not I have tuberculosis?
We were handed off to another liaison who walked us back to have our blood drawn. Again, no English spoken at this place and I have never been in a facility like this ever in my life. If I ever have to go back to anyplace like it ever again, it will be way too soon.
I really wish I’d remember to/been brave enough to snap a few pictures. It just has to be seen and experienced to be believed.
After the blood work we were taken to another building for the x-rays. Again – absolutely astounding. The smell was significantly less than pleasant. You have to put on gowns and stand in line. Your hair has to be tied up again and none of us had hair ties. Luckily this time I realized my hair was long enough to tie into a knot but the other girls just had to twist is up and not move so it would stay there.
When the whole experience was finally done the University took my passport and finished my one year residential visa. A week after that I received my Civil ID. But, what I have yet to receive is a driver’s license.
I was assured before coming here that getting a driver’s license would be no problem. Turns out that when you are under your spouse’s visa and don’t have children, you have to be a resident here for TWO YEARS before you can obtain a driver’s license.
If you made it this far there’s a fair chance you’re actually looking into moving to Kuwait. If so, feel free to contact me with any questions!