Visitors Who Overstayed Before Lockdown Must get Government Clearance to Travel
Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo has said that people who were illegally staying in Uganda at the time of the closure of airports and borders early in the year, will have to seek clearance to travel.
This is one of the guidelines that the ministry has put in place to implement the presidential directive to reopen all border as the country eases restrictions imposed to forestall the spread of coronavirus disease- COVID-19. But as the airport reopens, all persons intending to return to their countries of residents will face scrutiny for clearance, in line with immigration control measures.
At the time border closures were announced, the Directorate of immigration halted the issuance of other travel documents such as Certificate of Identity, Temporary movement permits, Conventional Travel Documents (For Refugees) and Certification of travel documents and Passes. It also suspended the issuance and Personalization of Visas, Work permits, Citizenship, Resident permits and Passes.
During the time, the directorate advised that foreign visitors, whose visas expired on or after March 18, 2020, should stay until the opening of commercial passenger flights and borders. Odongo says that although the government relaxed immigration enforcement during that period, there is a need to account for all people who were locked down in the country before they jet out.
Speaking to the public, Uganda’s Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odongo, said that all travellers that were locked down in Uganda at the time of lockdown and closure of both borders and airports will have to first seek government clearance before they depart or travel outside the country.
The Internal Affairs Ministry put up this guideline after the presidential directive of reopening Uganda’s borders and the Entebbe International airport. In a bid to implement the presidential directive, the ministry argues out that all travellers intending to return to their residential countries will have to undergo scrutiny for clearance, in line with immigration control measures so as to up hold Uganda’s immigration laws.
Uganda’s lockdown was instigated in March this year by the president of Uganda as a measure of curbing the spread of coronavirus. During this time, the Directorate of immigration halted the issuance of other travel documents to Uganda safari tourists and other travelers such as Certificate of Identity, Temporary movement permits, Conventional Travel Documents (For Refugees) and Certification of travel documents and Passes. The issuance and Personalization of Visas, Work permits, Citizenship, Resident permits and Passes were also suspended during this lockdown.
Therefore, the directorate has advised that foreign visitors (travellers), whose visas expired on or after March 18, 2020, should stay until the opening of commercial passenger flights and borders. Speaking to us, Jeje Odongo says that although the government of Uganda relaxed immigration enforcement during the lockdown period, there is a need to account for all people who were locked down in the country before they jet out.
What should travellers do?
Minister Odongo further explains that the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control will not retain passports of travellers or clearances from the ministries of health, works and foreign affairs for departing passengers as it was doing during the lockdown.
He also threw some light on the guidelines for people who want to come to Uganda including students and other categories of travellers. Citizens, final year students and pupils will be allowed into the country as long they have valid documents and tested negative for COVID-19, at least 72 hours before arrival in Uganda. Therefore, everyone intending to travel into the country should follow the new guidelines issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Travellers should not that they must submit their online visa application before the expected date of arrival while those from visa-exempt countries must have a tour plan, travel itinerary, valid passport and a negative PCR COVID-19 test results. There are 37 visa-exempt countries. Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson Ministry of Internal Affairs, says that Uganda currently has 53 points of entry and 330 illegal points of entry and exit.
Currently, residence certificates cost between USD 400 and USD 2500 depending on how long one plans to stay in Uganda. But, an individual pays USD 100 (370,000 Shillings) for each day he or she overstays in Uganda.