By Yusufu S. Bangura
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a visa ban on Sierra Leoneans and 19 other countries in Africa with immediate effect.
Sierra Leone and other countries including Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liberia, Burundi, Republic of Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Congo, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Comoros, and the Dominican Republic are all banned.
“This is to inform you that we will not be posting 30 days visa applications for these nationalities effective today October, 18, 2022,” the notice read.
In August this year, the UAE Government provided free flights to all Africans residing in the country without documentation to kindly exit the country peacefully and there was a viral report on social media showing that Sierra Leoneans in Dubai were calling on the government of Sierra Leone to help them.
A notice issued to trade partners including travel agents and copied to airplane companies with the UAE authorities, indicated that all visa applications from the above mentioned countries should be rejected.
However, in their statement, no reason was given as to why UAE had taken the decision but sources said the move was aimed at keeping away African nationalities who had taken advantage of the visit visas to overstay in the UAE.
The development could be the latest in efforts by UAE while tightening the noose for foreigners into the country. Many people, especially Africans seeking to work in UAE, mostly in Dubai have in the past been using the 30 day visit visas as a scapegoat to stay in the country.
It is said that after applying and getting a visit visa, one then flies to the country as a visitor but uses this time to look for a job.
The UAE government issues several types of visas and entry permits based on the purpose of one’s visit and some of these include tourist visas, patient and his/her companion entry permits, e-Visa for Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) residents, retirement visa for UAE residents, transit visa, student visa and work visa among others.