12 March 2004

Uganda: Fingerprinting for UK Visa Applicants

Kampala — UGANDANS and other nationals applying for visas to the United Kingdom will from Monday be required to have their fingerprints taken electronically.

Under the new regulations, the electronic impression of each applicant's fingerprints will be attached to the visa application to be submitted to the Visa Handling Services (U) Ltd. Offices on Clement Hill Drive, Kampala.

The newly-introduced method is known as the biometrics identification system. It takes less than two minutes for one's fingerprints to be taken.

British High Commission officials yesterday said the measure was instituted to avert fraudulent visa applicants, mainly false asylum seekers and others abusing the UK immigration rules.

Last year the US introduced a similar system at its Kampala embassy.

Those exempted from giving fingerprints include children under the age of five (children aged 5 to 16 years must be accompanied by a responsible adult to the Visa Handling Services offices to submit their fingerprints), holders of diplomatic passports and accompanying dependants.

Also exonerated are holders of official passports travelling on official business as well as United Nations officials holding UN travel documents who are travelling on official UN business only.

Internal affairs minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda launched the new system in Kampala yesterday. His fingerprints were taken in the presence of British High Commissioner Adam Wood and other officials.

Rugunda hailed the UK government for introducing the new system and solving the problem of congestion at the visa offices on Parliament Avenue where people used to fight and bribe.

"The biometrics system can easily identify people who can be a danger to themselves and to humanity. It will now be easy to trace and intercept such people before they cause trouble," Rugunda said.

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