The Government of Rwanda has introduced a New Immigration Law No O4/2011 of 21/03/2011 and its implementing ministerial orders on regulation and fees published on Official Gazette No 24 of 13 June 2011. The New Law comes to implement the National Migration Policy aimed at attracting skilled workers, promoting investment, tourism and enhance national security.
The Law has also been harmonized with EAC Protocol on Free movement of people, labor and services as a requirement of the EAC partner states. The law provides that Citizens of East African Community partner states shall have the right to visit Rwanda for a period of up to six months without visa. They will be issued with a specific visitors pass by simple endorsement in their valid travel document.
In order to facilitate movements of Rwandans, new travel documents have been introduced in addition to the existing ones such as a collective Laissez-Passer issued to people traveling as a group mainly for social activities.
This collective Laissez-Passer will facilitate Rwandans traveling as a group and shall cost 10.000frw for ten people instead of 3000frw for individual application.
The law also has introduced a travel document for Border communities known as border pass. This travel document shall be issued free of charge and will facilitate cross border activities. Likewise, Rwandans intending to travel in emergency situations may also be issued with an emergency travel document which shall be issued free of charge.
A new CEPGL travel document has been re-introduced for Rwandans and foreigners residing in Rwanda while traveling within CEPGL member states. The issuance of CEPGL documents comes after being harmonization with CEPGL member states.
Furthermore the law gives the right for an individual to hold more than one passport after presenting clear justification. This is in case a person intending to travel while his/her passport is still in visa processes may apply for an additional passport.
The New law has introduced different classes of Visas and residence Permits to cater for different purposes of visiting, working, or residing in Rwanda. Each category of visa or permit shall have a corresponding fee. The repealed Immigration law had only five categories of visas which made it difficult to manage entry and stay of foreigners.
In this new immigration regulation, the duration of an entry visa has been extended from 15 up to 30 days with multiple entries. This will facilitate visitors of Rwanda to visit other countries within the region contrary using the Single entry visa.
A specific visitor’s pass was also introduced for EAC nationals for a period of up to 6 months. Tourist visa is defined in accordance with the Rwanda tourism policy where all visitors who enter the country and stay for less than a year are considered as tourists.
It is in this regard, that there are 11 classes of tourist visas among them being group tourist visa for tourists coming as a group, conference visa for facilitating visitors coming for conferences, job search visa for skilled people seeking employment in Rwanda, business visa for business persons searching for business opportunities, Itinerant business person visa for business persons with established business in Rwanda but do not reside, medical treatment visa for foreigners seeking medical treatment and Bridging visa which intends to help people.
Generally, the duration of tourist visas shall range from 3 months up to 2 years.
In promotion of e-governance, many visas shall be applied online at www.migration.gov.rw, but also Rwanda diplomatic mission or at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration.
In an effort to facilitate foreigners wishing to work or reside in Rwanda, a work and resident permits have been combined. A person who will have acquired a resident permit will subsequently have a right to reside and work. Permits are divided into temporary resident permits and permanent resident permits. Temporary resident permits allow holders to reside in Rwanda for a specified period while permanent resident permit allows holders to reside for unspecified period.
Investors who invest in sectors such as agriculture and animal husbandry, ICT, hospitality industry, mining, manufacturing and other sectors shall be issued with 3 years temporary resident permit as an incentive.
This also applies for entrepreneurs investing in rural developments. Other Entrepreneurs shall be issued with 2 years temporary resident permit instead of 1 year as it was provided by the old law. All this was done as a way ofeasing doing business in Rwanda.
In aneffort to attract skilled workers as stated in the national migration policy, professionals whose qualification are listed on Occupation in Demand List (ODL) shall be eligible to a 3 years temporary resident permit.
Other employees shall get two years permit instead of one year as it used to be. The law has also catered for non-skilled workers permit. In order to facilitate cross border activities, Foreigners residing in Rwanda within the border area but working or doing business in the neighboring countries shall be issued Frontier pass. The same pass shall be issued to Foreigners residing within border area in one of the neighboring country who works or does business in Rwanda.
Students’ permit has been introduced to cater for foreigner students in Rwanda for study purposes and its fee has been reduced to 10,000 Frw. Similarly, a holiday’s workers permit has also been introduced to facilitate students and other people wishing to work during their holidays. A permit for a retired person with assured income has also been introduced to facilitate people who wish to have their retirements in Rwanda.
A temporary resident permit holder who has lawfully stayed in Rwanda for a period of 5 years shall be eligible to a permanent resident permit. Dependants and Spouses of a temporary resident permit holder shall be allowed to work and their permits shall cost a half fee of the principal applicant contrary to the existing practice. Foreigner ID card has also been catered for and shall be used as a resident card. In this regard, the card shall facilitate a foreigner who resides in Rwanda to acquire a Rwanda driving license.
Furthermore, People of Rwandan origin leaving in Diaspora but have lost their Rwandan citizenship due to acquisition of other nationalities but can not get dual citizenship may be eligible to permanent residence as a way of facilitating them to establish themselves in Rwanda.
In order to achieve its objectives the DG I&E officers have been given by the law the powers to investigate crimes related to Immigration and shall take the lead in the management of Rwandan borders.
The law has set penalties to those who shall not follow the existing immigration procedures. For effective management of immigrants, the law has established the obligations for foreigners and stakeholders such as employers, institutions of learning, hotels, and travel/transport agencies.
Generally, travel documents fees have not been changed, however new travel documents have been introduced to facilitate movement of Rwandans such as a Border pass which shall be issued free of charge, a collective laisser passer for Rwandans traveling as a group of ten people at reasonable fee of 10.000Frw and an emergency travel documents shall be issued free of charge to Rwandans.
Though the fee for the current laisser passer remains the same, there is an ongoing project for a new secure machine readable laisser passer which shall be in a booklet form and shall have a different fee.
A Diplomatic passport shall also be issued for the fee of 50,000 Frwas ordinary passport; however there will be a penalty for lost passport. The entry visa fee has been reduced from 60USD to 30 USD as a way of promoting tourist as early indicated there is a provision for multiple entry visa which shall be issued at a fee of 60 USD.