The government engages other countries in cases of visa denials and restrictive immigration policies.
According to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. John Mulimba, the Foreign Office, in an effort to address this issue, concluded on Monday July 11, 2022 a five-day Joint Commission for Cooperation with South Africa where immigration issues were discussed.
Mulimba said this while delivering a statement to Parliament on steps taken to ease strict visa requirements for Ugandans on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
He added that the ministry was also negotiating bilateral agreements with several countries for exemption from visa requirements.
“We have so far reached agreements with 65 countries where Ugandans do not need visas to travel. We continue to urge countries to grant visas on arrival to respond to emergency situations,” Mulimba said.
He noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues diplomatic notes to respective accredited foreign missions in Uganda on behalf of government officials traveling on official business to facilitate and authenticate the visa application process.
In addition, he said regional engagements with partner states have been undertaken, particularly in East Africa and with COMESA states where Ugandans do not require visas.
The Minister observed that failure to articulate the reasons for travel, late submission of visa applications, submission of false documents and excessive stay visas are among the reasons many Ugandans are denied visas.
While chairing the session, Vice President Thomas Tayebwa observed that the process of granting visas to candidates has become untenable, especially in situations where they wait long hours for interview appointments. .
He alluded to the fact that he raised the same concerns in the 10th Parliament. He said Ugandans would be queuing at the Chinese Embassy in the early hours of the morning, but with the commitment of the government, an online process has been put in place.
“Uganda plays a vital role on the international scene and our country is open. We want the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to do more for the benefit of the citizens,” Tayebwa said.
He also instructed the Minister to brief the House on the status of Ugandans detained in foreign prisons.
“The Ministry [Foreign Affairs] used to bargain very hard, especially in Asia where Ugandans risk life or the death penalty. The issue of consular services to Ugandans abroad needs to be considered,” Tayebwa added.
Hon. Hanifa Nabikeera (NUP, Mukono District) raised concerns about study visas for students some of whom she said are paying fee commitments at overseas schools but their visas are being delayed or denied .
Hon. Boniface Okot (NRM, Youth Northern) observed that many young Ugandan traders have not been able to travel freely as stipulated in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. “My proposal is that we accelerate engagements with countries that have ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to enable visa waiver for our young traders,” he said.
Female MP for Ntungamo District, Hon. Josyline Kamateneti has raised concerns about labor export companies exploiting unknown Ugandans under the guise of speeding up visa or passport application processes.
“I urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to put clear guidelines on the operations of these companies. Someone pays 400,000 shillings for an express passport but ends up getting it after three months,” she said.
MP for Kajara County, Hon. Micheal Timuzigu urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with other national agencies to carry out civic education on foreign travel.
This, he said, will give Ugandans a chance to know the documents required for travel applications and will make visa applications more efficient.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
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