Foreigners Living in East Africa Land Special Visa Deal

Foreigners living in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will from next month get a six-month East African tourist visa under a preferential deal agreed on last week as the states sought to fully implement the issuance of a joint visa for the region.

East Africa partner states

According to a report on last week’s Northern Corridor Integration Project Summit held in Nairobi, the visa will be issued by the country where the foreigner resides, subject to the validity of the work/residence permit taking into account the visa regimes.

The deal will give non-citizen residents an edge over their travelling counterparts, who get a 90-day visa.

Since its launch in Kampala last month, officials say, tremendous progress has been realised in the implementation of the joint visa, which is expected to sell the East African region as a single tourist destination.

The ministers’ report says the countries have opened special visa fees accounts and agreed to transfer revenue from the joint visa to each partner state by July 15.

The meeting directed Kenya to develop a sample application form for the visa and share it with partner states.

Working like the Schengen visa for European Union countries, the East African visa is expected to allow tourist to enter any of the three countries and move freely within the other two.

It is issued as a multiple-entry visa at $100 instead of $150 at the diplomatic offices of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, immigration offices of the respective countries or online.

Annual audit

“The national audit agencies of the partner states will conduct the auditing of the accounts of the East African visa on an annual basis,” said the ministers in their report.

The design of the application form has also been completed and, according to the ministers, tourists can start applying for their visas as from May 15 from all the partner states. To enhance the use of the visa in the countries, the ministers mandated Rwanda to lead the co-ordination of an awareness drive.

The three East African countries participated jointly at the Indaba Fair in South Africa and World Travel Market in London. At the Berlin International Tourism Fair in March, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda shared a pavilion, at which they launched the single tourist visa.

On national identity cards and student IDs as travel documents, the partner states have resolved that travelers coming from outside the three countries will use standard travel documents.

Partner states have therefore been directed to issue interstate passes by July 1. The states also agreed on the format of a standard student ID card to be in use by July 1.

Uganda will co-ordinate the sensitisation of immigration officials on the operationalisation of IDs as travel documents by May 15.

– The EastAfrican