Immigration Uganda: insights on procedures
Immigration compliance in Uganda is a complex issue due to its intricate and elaborate procedures. However it is a compulsory stage for any foreigner. Companies and individuals end up spending a lot of time understanding these immigration obligations, a task that can be frustrating.
In Uganda, the body responsible is the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control ( also known as DCIC). This provides several options for legal residence, otherwise called residence facilities.
All foreign nationals intending to work in Uganda must ensure that they are in possession of the relevant work permit. It is therefore vital that you know which one suits your personal situation. Hereunder, i will strive to shade light on each category.
What you need to know before starting
Any organisation that needs to apply for any residence facility for their staff must undergo an “organisation profiling”. Specific company information is submitted to DCIC, upon which a unique code to the company, called “organisation code”, is generated. All applications are then submitted online, using this code. Without this code, no application can be submitted.
Avoid shortcuts aided by bribes because they will either backfire or leave loopholes that can expose you to legal complications and penalties. These can be extremely costly. It also complicates procedures of recourse, should the outcome of the application be negative.
If a worker ceases employment, for which work permit was issued, he/she must notify Immigration within 15 days of cessation and apply for pass to stay in Uganda or leave the country.
Insights on costs
Work permit class G2 & class D are required to pay an application fee of USD 1500. This government fee is non-refundable upon rejection of the application. It implies that your immigration should be processed by experts of the local immigration framework. Otherwise, you may waste time and money by submitting an application on flawed or imprecise information.
Relatedly, work permit class G2 & class D require the payment of a security bond fee. The purpose of the security bond is to take care of the work permit holder’s detention and repatriation costs in case he/she violates regulation/conditions of the work permit. This fee is refundable when the work permit expires and the person exists the country. However, you must anticipate that it is a lengthy process ; many expatriates leave the country before they get any refund.
Finally, note that the citizens of the East Africa Community (EAC) member states are exempted from all government fees. Nevertheless, they still have to obtain their pass or permit to be compliant, therefore the have to go through the same immigration procedures in Uganda.
Investors and directors
For the purposes of this blog, i will pool owners of companies and/or appointed directors of the same, as investors. This cluster is accorded work permit class D. This category is meant for persons intending to carry on the business or trade in Uganda.
The main requirement for this work permit category is the proof of investment of USD 100,000. The amount must be available on a Ugandan bank account. I have received several directors of local branches who had mistakenly applied for this class of work permit. They believed that their position automatically qualified them for this type of work permit. It is therefore imperative to be guided on how to set up a company and obtain your relevant work permit.
Employees and volunteers
When organisations need to apply for their staff work permits, they must verify first their administrative compliance. Government administrations work in tandem to ensure checks and balances. Therefore, lack of compliance in one area can affect the success of your application.
Individuals who are employees of private ltd companies should apply for Class G2 work permit ; Individuals who work as volunteers, NGO workers and missionaries should apply for Class G1 work permit. Applicants should be persons intending to work whether for gain or not in Uganda. Applicants under these categories can only enter Uganda after grant and payment for their work permits. These classes of work permits must be applied under the organisation code of a company (employer). This company is otherwise officially termed as “sponsor”.
There is also a category of employees that are government contractors. These apply for a unique class called A2. Their work permits are sponsored by government entities under which their operations belong. Applicants should be persons on Government contracts, including persons serving in Government tertiary institutions.
Visa and Short-term contracts
Like in Kenya, all visa prone nationalities must obtain Uganda visas to facilitate their entry into the country. Uganda visas may be obtained at Uganda missions abroad or on arrival at the ports of entry in the country. All travellers to the Republic of Uganda must have a valid Yellow Fever Immunisation card.
Some expatriates come to work in Uganda on short-term contracts. In this case, it would be too expensive to process a work permit. Cognisant of this fact, Immigration put a provision that would accommodate such cases. This provision is called a Special Pass. Its maximum duration is 3 months (90 days) and thus the applicant’s contract must not exceed 3 months. Additionally, it can be issued to accommodate persons while they are in Uganda to set up a company.
Families and dependents
If you expatriate to Uganda as a couple, or as a family, it is critical to ensure the well-being of your dependents. And this starts with Immigration compliance to avoid any hassle at the borders. So, what should be your family’s residential status?
Family members of expatriates are eligible to a Dependant Pass. This pass is limited to legally married spouse and children below 6 years. Special cases like, your parents who are of advanced age, can be given consideration. The downside of this facility is that, it does not permit the holder to be engaged in gainful employment.
Further, children of expatriates, who are of school going age (5+ years) are issued with a Student Pass. Similar to dependant pass, a holder of student pass is not allowed to engage in gainful employment.
In a nutshell, we can say that accurate information is key to seamless immigration processes in Uganda. When you are not sure whether you have the right information, it is recommended to engage an immigration firm. Expertise may not guarantee approval of every application as it remains DCIC competence. However, it reduces the hassle and it maximises the chances of approval of your work permit application.