A group of Ugandan students destined for internship have raised complaints after Danish authorities rejected Uganda’s newly introduced polycarbonate electronic passports.
In March, Uganda upgraded from paper-based biodata electronic passports to polycarbonate e-passports.
Officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the upgraded polycarbonate e-passports just like paper-based e-passports have an electromagnetic chip and tough plastic layers infused together leading to a finished material where personal data is engraved inside the deeper layers of the document with laser.
However, according to a group of 20 Ugandan student, the new e-passports have been rejected by Danish authorities and consequently denied them visas for internship in the Nordic country.
Among those complaining is Ivan Amanya who got his passport in March and sought to travel to Denmark for internship but was denied visa on claims that the passport could not be used.
“The embassy has received your application for residence permit for internship in Denmark. Unfortunately, the embassy is not able to forward your application to the Danish Immigration Service for processing of your visa because the new Ugandan passports have not bee approved by the Denmark authorities,” the email from visa section of the Danish embassy reads in part.
According to Amanya, he doesn’t know what to do next after his new Ugandan passport was rejected.
He says his plight is shared by at least 20 other Ugandans who have specifically denied Danish visas where they were destined for internship.
According to the victims, when they apply for visas at the Visa Facilitation Services Global(VFS Global) at Lugogo, they are bounced whereas those who had earlier been allowed, the decision was reversed.
They say many of them have lost huge sums of in this application.
“Anyone intending to go to Denmark has to pay for a case ID to SIRI( Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration) which issues a work permit for Denmark. However, the dilemma is that when you pay for visa and permit, it takes 14 days for the case ID to expire but within this period, you must have had your biometrics recorded,” a source that preferred anonymity told this website.
A source who is one of the victims says that this process costs about $1000 including the consular fee for the embassy.
However, the victims say by being denied Danish visas on the basis of unrecognized Ugandan passports, all this money is lost.
“Under circumstances that you haven’t recorded your biometrics, when the case ID expires, you lose all money($1000) that you have already paid.”
The source said when they tried to complain to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they were told it was a minor issue.
“We were told all Ugandan passports are certified by ICAO and that the issue would be handled but this hasn’t yet happened. The parents, learners and schools where these students were supposed to go for internship are now in panic. They don’t know what to do.”
However, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson, Simon Mundeyi, the reason for rejecting Uganda’s new passports is not clear since all countries in the world were informed of the changes in the e-passport.
“As a ministry responsible for producing passports, we have taken keen interest in this matter. The polycarbonates are being issued in accordance with ICAO standards. The new polycarbonate passports for Uganda are approved and certified by ICAO,”Mundeyi said.
The Ugandan Internal Affairs Ministry spokesperson explained that while changing from paper based to polycarbonate e-passports, the ministry working with Ministry of Foreign Affairs ensured all processes including ICAO certification were done.
“We wrote to ICAO seeking permission to change passports and it was granted and certified all our passports. As soon as we did that, we then sent and shared passport samples globally and therefore many Ugandans are travelling seamlessly to all countries globally, including Nordic countries.”
Mundeyi said so far 7000 Ugandans have traveled to various destinations using the new polycarbonate Ugandan passports, adding that over 96 of these have travelled to Denmark.
He however urged Ugandans to note that this is a transition from the old passport and that in rare cases, there might be delays due to verification measures by some countries.
“ We are in touch with the Danish embassy in Nairobi and we are being told all is being done to ensure that this data verification process is completed with immediate effect and assurance we are getting from them is that within two weeks, our polycarbonate passports will have been certified and approved by the Danish government.”