Kampala. The visa application process granting entry into Uganda must not take more than a week, Gen JJ Odong, the Internal Affairs minister, has said.
Speaking at celebrations to mark the Pakistani Day in Kampala, Gen Odong said foreigners must not be subjected to weeks of waiting before they are issued visas stipulating their stay in Uganda.
“Why should a visa application take two weeks? This process is done online and you [applicant] should get a response within a week. If this is not done walk into Immigration and ask what is happening,” he said.
Gen Odong was responding to concerns from Mr Al-Malik Azhar, the Pakistan Society Uganda chairman, who indicated that a number of members have to wait for weeks before they are issued with a visa.
Mr Malik also complained of the high work permit fees, which he described as a deterrent to investors.
The $2,500 (about Shs8.75m) fee charged for work permits, he said, is too unfair on the part of investors, who wish to hire expertise outside Uganda.
“At least it should be about $1,000 (Shs3.5m). Some people apply for three-year work permits but only get one. To make matters worse, you have to pay for other visas such as student’s [$100] that are not covered in the main one,” he said.
However, Gen Odong said the work permit issue was a government policy and he would forward the complaint to relevant institutions.
Mr Malik also noted that the absence of an embassy in Kampala has seen members pay highly as they have to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to do simple things such as renewing a passport.
Pakistan only has a Consulate that is headed by Ms Rukia Nakadama, the former state minister for Gender, who replaced Bonney Katatumba. Katatumba died in February last year.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem, who also attended the celebrations, said he had invited Pakistan Prime Minister to open an embassy in Uganda but government was yet to get an update on the invitation.
The Pakistan Consulate that had at some point been housed in Muyenga and Blacklines House has since been shifted to Ntinda.
Ms Nakadama called upon the Pakistan community in Uganda to harness their potential to develop Uganda.
“I am here to facilitate the Pakistani nationals get good environment for businesses and develop our country,” she said.
Source: The Daily Monitor