Three countries approve visa-free region for foreign residents

6 Mar 15

KENYA, RWANDA, UGANDA

IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Three East African countries have approved a visa-free region for foreign residents of any one of the countries.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals with a valid work permit or resident permit issued by Kenya, Rwanda or Uganda are now allowed to travel among the three countries without having to apply for a visa or pay government visa fees.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals with valid work permits, resident permits or foreigner certificates.
  • Impact on processing times: Visa processing for foreign residents has been eliminated.
  • Business impact: The change may benefit foreign residents on short-term business trips within the three-country region.

Background: The visa-free region is another initiative to integrate the three Coalition of the Willing (CoW) countries. Since its creation in 2013, the CoW has taken various steps to ease the movement of goods and people. Last year, the CoW launched an East African Tourist visa allowing foreign travelers to visit the region on a single visa. Uganda also abolished work permit fees for Kenyans and Rwandans.

Now, all foreign residents holding a valid foreigner certificate, work permit or resident permit in one of the CoW countries will be allowed to travel among all three countries without purchasing a visa. Upon arrival in the other two countries, they will have their passports stamped with an entry visa. Foreigners who are not residents may purchase the East African Tourist visa for US$100, valid for up to three months.

BAL Analysis: While this move is primarily aimed at boosting tourism, it will also reduce the barriers and cost of business travel among the three East African countries.

This alert has been provided by BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Kenya. For additional information please contact your BAL attorney.

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