February 07, 2013

Several recent media postings, including one by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), has reported multiple instances of Mozambican border officers refusing to issue Border Visas on arrival to foreign business visitors and those entering for purposes other than tourism. Effective immediately, virtually all foreign nationals entering Mozambique as non-tourists are strongly urged to consult with their nearest Mozambican consular post or global immigration supplier to discuss the appropriate visa for their entry.

What’s Changed?

Prior to January 2013, the Mozambican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has traditionally permitted border officers to issue a “Border Visa” to foreign nationals arriving for tourism purposes.

As of January 24, 2013, the UK FCO’s travel advisory page for Mozambique states “there have been a number of recent reports of visitors being refused this service, resulting in them being turned back from border posts and airports. It is therefore strongly advisable for all tourists to obtain visas before travel. If in doubt, you should contact the Mozambican immigration authorities.

In late January, Mozambican government officials issued public statements voicing increasing concern over the amount of citizens from its former colonial power, Portugal, and other nationalities entering as tourists with the intent of performing business visits and/or searching for employment and requesting work visas while in Mozambique.

Border Visas on Arrival Limited to a Specific Tourist Profile

Until further notice, with the exception of nationals from eight visa-exempt countries (Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe), Border Visas on arrival will only be issued to those foreign nationals entering Mozambique with clear intent and evidence of limited tourist stay and traveling from countries where there is no Mozambican consular post.

For these qualified foreign nationals, they should, at a minimum, present the following documents to a Mozambican admitting immigration officer:

  1. Round-trip airline tickets;
  2. Original passport valid for at least six months and having at least two, blank visa pages;
  3. Proof of sufficient funds (e.g., cash, traveler’s cheques, credit cards);
  4. Proof of hotel accommodation;
  5. For tourists, it’s preferable to show evidence of scheduled tours, have credible responses to questions about what activities/sights will be undertaken while in Mozambique;
  6. For visiting family or friends in Mozambique, an original invitation letter confirming the nature of the visit and local host’s contact information.

Border Visas will be issued at the discretion of the admitting immigration officer. As stated above, typical visas are issued for an initial 30-day period. Tourists can apply for a single, 30-day extension with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by evidencing true need to remain in Mozambique.

Foreign nationals entering for purposes other than tourism should apply for a business or work visa at least three weeks prior to entering Mozambique. Business and work visa applicants should consult with their local or nearest consular post to confirm requirements and processing times.

Tourists residing in countries where there is Mozambican consular representation are also advised that obtaining a tourist visa will reduce the chance of arbitrary enforcement for obtaining Border Visas on arrival and possible refusal of admission.

Repeat business visitors and tourists should note that successive applications for a Border Visa within a 12-month period may raise questions as to the true nature of intent to enter Mozambique and could result in requests for additional documentation and/or possible refusal to issue a visa or refusal of entry.

ACTION ITEM FOR EMPLOYERS

While not yet part of defined pattern by former colonial power involvement in continental Africa, France and Portugal have taken a much greater diplomatic and economic involvement in Algeria and Mali (France) and Angola (Portugal). In addition, while not officially substantiated, there has been marked recent interest by younger, educated Portuguese to explore immigration options in Africa, particularly in those countries having historic ties to Portugal.

During the course of January 2013, dozens of travelers were unexpectedly refused ability to apply for Border Visas on Arrival and denied admission to Mozambique. In particular, younger nationals (e.g., age 35 and under) from Portugal were thought to be leaving Portugal’s struggling economy in search of work while presenting themselves as tourists.

Companies considering sending business travelers, assignees and accompanying family members are advised to be mindful of a perceived pressure on Mozambique’s labor market. At present, this perception by the authorities has resulted in an arbitrary and rather forceful refusal to admit foreign nationals thought to be misrepresenting their immigration intent.

For the immediate future, companies should first consult with their nearest Mozambican consular post and/or global immigration supplier to confirm appropriate entry strategy for employees and family members. At a minimum, companies planning business travel for employees are strongly advised to obtain business visas and, where possible, tourist visas for all accompanying family members.

A work visa is required prior to obtaining a Mozambican work permit. Therefore, it is recommended to apply for the work visa prior to entering with the intent to work. It is also recommended that visas for work and business be requested in the country of origin or in the country of residence, as foreign nationals seeking to work will be unable to enter Mozambique as a tourist with the intention of applying for a work visa at a consular post in a neighboring African country.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in Mozambique to provide you this update.