Immigration Affairs Relocates Main Departments


The department has been busy making administrative and system changes for the past two years




The Main Department for Immigration & Nationality Affairs has moved two of its departments, for foreign citizen applicants and passport re-issuance, to a new location.

The main department is scheduled to move the two sections to the first floor of the new Ethiopian Postal Service’s building, in Arat Kilo by May 13, 2018. The relocated departments are the administrations for Foreigners & Consular Services and Services for Ethiopian Citizens.

This is in a bid to facilitate services and solve the delay in delivery for non-nationals, according to Mengistu Alemayehu, deputy director at the Department.

The departments will provide permits for residents, tourists and students as well as visas for non-nationals. On average, the current main department serves more than 700 non-nationals and 5,000 nationals a day, according to officials of the department.

“The level of demand strains services that are not up to par with what is expected,” pointed Zelalem Mengiste, another deputy director of Immigration & Nationality Affairs. “The departments will soon start work, either for free rent from the Postal Service or at a reduced price, Zelalem told Fortune.

The Department, one of the seven authorities under the National Intelligence & Security Service, has undergone a reshuffling of management two years ago. It has also started a pilot project with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) for applicants to make payments, appointments for services and fill out forms.

The Immigration Office has also scheduled to open three branches in Adama, Semera, and Jigjiga May this year. Another branch will follow in Assosa, Benshangul in September next year. These are additions to the previous six offices in Hawassa, Dire Dawa, Jimma, Dessie, Bahirdar, and Meqelle.

There are currently 37 countries whose citizens can receive a visa on arrival, which is now given through E-Visa services. It allows applicants to apply, pay and secure their entry visa online.

This came into effect in June 2017 after an agreement between the Ethiopian Airlines and the Main Department.

“Apart from issuing the permit, we need to have a strong monitoring system,” Tewodros Berhe said, Legal Services head at the Department. The Department granted Ethiopian Nationality for 22 non-nationals, out of the 42 applicants from Yemen, Somalia and Eritrea over the past year.

The immigration proclamation dates back to 1995, which was amended more than a decade ago. There are now nine types of working visas, such as the investment visa and NGO visa, an increase from just the one that was available before the proclamation was amended.

The current process of dealing with the immigration office for non-nationals is explained by Dorothy Hanson, 79, and a United States citizen. Dorothy has been working as a nurse and humanitarian assistant in Ethiopia for over 13 years. She describes the process as complicated, given that it must be renewed every year and repeated trips are common in the instance that an ID has been lost.

The officials admitted that the Department had been a source of disappointment and frustration for both nationals and non-nationals, as the system was not transparent.

Gebreyohannes Teklu, director of the department, believes that there will not be inefficiencies within the immigration departments, and will be a lot easier.



By YARED TSEGAYE
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Apr 22,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 939]


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