Immigration

Discussions involving immigration usually result in anxiety, depression and occasional dribbling. Most Kampala expat residents have experienced the delights of the JInja Road headquarters of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control and although there’s a guide to the fees and requirements required elsewhere in the magazine this article is aiming to give readers some practical information. Let’s start with a tourist visa. The normal duration for one of these is 3 months, issued on arrival in Uganda. Should you wish to stay longer in Uganda then getting a visa extension will be needed. First, the good news – a visa extension is free of charge. More good news – it’s a pretty straightforward process. The bad news – you have to go to the Jinja Road HQ. If you’re upcountry, congratulations – it can be done at one of the outlying immigration offices.

The entrance is on Old Port Bell Road. There is sometimes parking available on the road but the police occasionally don’t allow this. So matatu, private hire or boda is the best way to get there. Top tip – try and go while it’s raining. There will be far fewer people there than normal.You’ll need to collect the relevant form, fill it in and have a covering letter explaining why you want to extend your stay (having a longer holiday is a perfectly acceptable reason), your passport, a copy of your passport and a copy of your flight ticket. Hand it all over, be nice, smile and the extension will normally be done there and then. The usual period granted is 2 months, although the visa can be extended again if you are determined to avoid returning to real life for as long as possible.That wasn’t too bad, was it? But now we come on to work permits and the like.If you’re applying for a work, NGO or volunteer permit and you’re lucky enough to have someone doing the running around for you then you can relax. For the rest of you, hours of fun lie ahead. But at least there is now a café on site in which you can while away the time.

If you’re applying for a work, NGO or volunteer permit and you’relucky enough to have someone doing the running around for youthen you can relax. For the rest of you, hours of fun lie ahead.

The main thing is to get your paperwork in order. You will need ALL the documents as stated in administration part of this magazine. You will need to get clarification of anything that’s not obvious eg the “letter of good conduct from your home country”. For this an Interpol letter obtainable in Kampala may suffice, or they may insist on a police check from your home country. If you are applying for an employee work permit it will need to be shown why a Ugandan could not fulfil the role and what sort of programme is in place to train Ugandans to carry out the role in future.

Work permit applications are considered by the Immigration Board. The board should sit at regular intervals but sometimes there is a backlog of applications and yours could take some time. If this is the case, you’ll need to apply for a Special Pass to cover you after your initial entry visa expires.

The board can issue the permit without further question, ask for clarification on certain points or refuse the application. If it’s either of the last two then the fun is just beginning. Some people engage lawyers to help with their application and/ or appeals but it’s very important to get the right people involved. Cutting corners is not a good idea when it comes to immigration matters.

In any case, you will spend lots of time talking to various people at the immigration offices. Lots of queuing will be involved as will repeat visits. It’s all part of life in Uganda!

Please note that the above is written in general terms. The rules on the granting of visas change all the time, and different immigration officers may have differing opinions about documents, legal requirements etc.

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