Of late, many Ugandans have secured jobs abroad or are in the process of getting employment in other countries, but few are conversant with the procedures and requirements for going through Entebbe International Airport using an Employment visa.
This is meant to throw more light on what one needs to know and do prior to embarking on their flight to their much coveted dream employment destination.
After a series of harrowing reports of mistreatment of innocent Ugandan labourers in some countries, government deemed it prudent to put in place control measures to ensure that Ugandans are either guided through formal employment agencies or go through a stringent, but necessary clearance process that ensures their safety and that of their employers.
To this end, work/employment visas are looked at in two categories: One for employment secured through an employment company and the other for employment abroad secured privately by an individual migrant worker.
Once an individual gets employment outside Uganda, especially in any of the Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates or Somalia, they need to apply to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development for a clearance letter. This requirement does not apply to employment in other countries such as UK and USA, among others.
The application to the ministry must be accompanied with a valid Certificate of Good Conduct from the International Police (Interpol), formal employment letter, valid Visa and consent letter(s) from guardians/parents or a spouse. In addition, the applicant is required to fill in an External Employment Form 4, which is presented to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development alongside the other documents indicated above.
On receipt of a complete application, the ministry sends a letter to the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) for vetting and screening. Once positive feedback is received, the ministry then clears the applicant in writing. These important documents, including the Ministry Clearance and Interpol Certificate, are cross checked for authenticity by an official from the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development at the External Employment Help Desk located on Departures just before the security screening machine at the airport.
Ugandans going for employment to the above mentioned countries and handled by certified labour agencies go through the same process as highlighted. The only difference is that the labour agencies handle clearance processes on their behalf and escort them to the airport, among other follow up services.
Verification of the labour clearance letter and Interpol Certificate is the responsibility of the officials manning the External Employment Help Desk, who then give a green light to the immigration officers.
The regulations in place were necessitated by the need to safeguard Ugandans following social media outcries of torture and mistreatment while on duty in some countries and subsequent failure to track the culprits.
The system in place now ensures that there is an accountability data bank of the whereabouts of Ugandans with appropriate information about their employers. It also ensures that the country exports labourers with a clean record that projects a good national image.
While the above are the formal national procedures in place, the airport authorities have in the past received various disturbing complaints, especially on social media, from passengers who have had an unpleasant experience arising out of a few unscrupulous officials, who have taken advantage of the regulations or the lack of information to ask passengers for facilitation in exchange of favours.
Severe action has already been taken in relation to the few individuals from different agencies providing services at the airport, who have in the past been found to involve themselves in extorting money from passengers. In addition, Civil Aviation Authority started airing regular announcements on departures cautioning passengers not to be compelled or lured into paying money to anyone in exchange for favours.
Telephone numbers for the general manager (0752-507618), Aviation Security Manager (0702-055158) and manager operations (0758-483681) are now prominently displayed for passengers to report any unpleasant situation while going through the airport for instant action.
These and other behind-the-scenes measures have ensured a better passenger experience as concerted efforts for provision of better customer care in liaison with all key stakeholders, including immigration, handling agents, airlines, customs and security agents are enhanced.
Mr Luggya is the manager public affairs,
Civil Aviation Authority. [email protected]