HLG - Weekly Newsletter – 11.02.2019

Feb 11,2019





  1. Validity of Ghana passport now extended to 10 years”, Ghana Web, February 9, 2019
  • The ministry of foreign affairs has announced the validity of the booklets of ordinary Ghana passport has been extended from five to 10 years. The directive takes effect March 31, 2019, a message to all missions stated.
  • “The processing fees remain the same until further notice,” deputy foreign affairs minister Mohammed Habibu Tijani said in the fax message to the missions.




  1. Philippines scraps visa requirements for Mozambique”, Journal du Cameroun, January 28, 2019
  • The chairman of the Mozambican Economic Cooperation and External Relations Department of the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA), Noor Momade, has said Mozambican citizens who travelling to the Philippines are exempt from entry visas. Under this arrangement, they can stay up to 30 days with the possibility of renewing their stay.
  • “The visa waiver for the Philippines will facilitate the entry of people and promote the tourist destinations of both countries”, Momade told a APA in a brief interview on Sunday.


South Africa


  1. South Africa and Mali sign reciprocal Visa Waiver Agreement”, African Daily Voice, February 6, 2019
  • The South African Home Affairs Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, and the Ambassador of Mali to South Africa, Mahamane Auoudou Cisse, have signed a reciprocal Visa Waiver Agreement for Diplomatic, Service or Official passport holders. Minister Cwele said he was confident that this facilitation would enhance government to government relations for the benefit of both countries, and ultimately the continent.
  • According to the agreement, diplomatic and official passport holders no longer need a visa to enter the country and can remain in the country for a period of up to 90 days.






  1. Dominica to invest more in tourism after industry outperformed 2018 projections”, WIC News, February 5, 2019
  • Director of Tourism of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Colin Piper, revealed that the country’s tourism industry had outperformed projections for 2018.
  • The immigration experts are seeing it as good news for applicants to the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
  • Dominica is considered the best jurisdiction from which to obtain economic citizenship, according to experts at the Financial Times. The Professional Wealth Management 2018 CBI Index, which reviews all CBI programmes globally, was released in August last year, ranking Dominica as the best for second citizenship. FT specialists recognised Dominica particularly for its applicant security checks, termed ‘due diligence.’




Hong Kong


  1. Christy Leung, “New Hong Kong passport to come with security updates, including designs visible only under UV light”, South China Morning Post, February 1, 2019
  • Hong Kong is set to issue a new passport boasting security upgrades, creative ultraviolet designs and a biodata page sporting the national flag above the city’s bauhinia emblem. The new features to prevent counterfeiting would be on top of some 20 in the current biometric passport, while the booklet’s blue cover would remain unchanged, Director of Immigration Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said on Friday.
  • To streamline procedures, the Post understands that self-service kiosks will be introduced to allow people to take photos and collect the passports later. Applications are expected to open in the second quarter.
  • The city’s passport is the world’s 13th most powerful, according to advisory firm Arton Capital’s global index, revealed in December.




  1. Hokkaido, Sakhalin aim to start visa-free travel”, NHK, February 9, 2019
  • The governor of Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido has agreed with the acting governor of Russia's Sakhalin Region to urge their governments to grant visa-free travel to their residents.
  • Takahashi said she hopes deepening economic, cultural and medical exchanges between the two regions will help create an environment for resolving the territorial issue and signing a peace treaty. In response, Limarenko called on Takahashi to work to realize visa-free travel between their residents to deepen exchanges. The idea was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visited Japan in 2016.




  1. Taiwan extends visa-free travel to July 31”, The Manila Times, February 9, 2019
  • Taiwan has extended the visa-free travel privilege for Filipinos to July 31, 2019, a move intended to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations, people-to-people exchange and cooperation. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau issued the statement as it opened the Taiwan Hall at the Travel Tour Expo 2019 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, which runs until February 10.
  • A total of 419,105 visitors from the Philippines went to Taiwan in 2018, up 44.13 percent compared with 2017.




  1. Matthew Strong, “Thailand includes Taiwanese visitors in its electronic visa on arrival program”, Taiwan News, January 30, 2019
  • Thailand announced Wednesday it was going to hand out electronic visas on arrival (E-VOA) to visitors from 20 ‘economies,’ including Taiwan. The number of tourists visiting the Southeast Asian country rose from 35 million to 38 million in 2018, including 7 million subject to visas on arrival, causing “congestion and inconvenience,” the Thai newspaper The Nation reported.
  • Last year, Thailand announced it was making the visas on arrival free of charge for visitors from the 20 countries, including China, India and Taiwan for a limited time, a scheme which was later extended until April 30, 2019.
  • Applicants for the E-VOA system must fill out personal and travel information and pay on a website, while the results of the application will be e-mailed within three business days, The Nation reported. Passengers arriving at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport under the program will also be allowed to choose a fast-track service where they will not have to fill out extra information before handing their visa to immigration officers, according to the report.




  1. Passport demand soars after Turkey slashes cost”, Ahval, January 28, 2019
  • Hundreds of foreigners are looking to buy Turkish citizenship after Ankara sharply reduced the cost in an effort to boost the country’s troubled economy, U.K. newspaper Financial Times reported on Sunday.
  • More than 200 people applied for Turkish passports in the first five weeks after the introduction of the country’s new rules, according to the government. It has not published more recent figures, but agents who act as intermediaries say applications have continued steadily, according to FT.
  • The Turkish security service runs checks on those buying citizenship, and applicants must be “respectable people”, according to deputy finance minister Nureddin Nebati.
  • A would-be citizen can now qualify by putting $500,000 into fixed capital or depositing in a bank, down from $3 million. The threshold for property investment was cut from $1 million to $250,000, a move widely seen as a bid to help boost a flagging construction sector, said FT.


United Arab Emirates


  1. UAE starts rolling out 10-year visa carpet to buoy business”, Khaleej Times, February 3, 2019
  • The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) has started implementing the Cabinet decision to give residence visas of up to 10 years to investors, entrepreneurs and people with special talents as well as their families as of Sunday, February 3. According to the Official Portal of the UAE Government, the category also includes science researchers, outstanding students and art innovators.
  • The decision spells out conditions for widows, divorced women or their children to continue to avail of this benefit. The widowed or the divorced woman (or their children) should submit a request to extend their residence visas if the death of the husband or the divorce took place after they received their visas on the husband's sponsorship. The visas should be valid during submission of the request.




  1. Uzbekistan gives visa-free entry to visitors from 45 countries”, France 24, February 1, 2019
  • Uzbekistan on Friday granted visa-free entry to citizens of 45 countries to boost tourism, which the government views as vital for economic growth. The countries benefiting from a 30-day visa waiver that went into force on Friday include the majority of European countries including Britain as well as Australia, Canada, Argentina and Chile. The United States is a notable exception.
  • Earlier this year, Uzbekistan granted a 30-day visa waiver to Germany while France became the first European Union country to benefit from the measure last year. Uzbekistan's tourism committee said last month that annual visitor numbers for 2018 were 5.3 million, double the figure for 2017.
  • Uzbekistan already offers visa-free entry to visitors from Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, in addition to long-standing reciprocal visa-free entry for citizens of most former Soviet countries.






  1. Belarus, S. Korea in talks over visa waiver”, Belarusian Telegraph Agency, January 31, 2019
  • “The Belarusian side has been consistently working on an agreement with the Republic of Korea on short-term visa-free travels for holders of ordinary passports. This document can give an additional impetus to increasing tourist flows between the two countries,” Andrei Popkov [Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Korea] said.
  • Nationals of the Republic of Korea can take advantage of Belarus' new visa policy. Citizens of nearly 80 countries, including South Korea, can visit Belarus visa free for the period of up to 30 days. Apart from that, South Koreans do not need visas for short-term stays in the Brest tourism and recreation zone and the Augustow Canal.




  1. Gareth Cross, “Post offices run out of Irish passport application forms ahead of Brexit”, Belfast Telegraph, January 28, 2019
  • A number of post officers in Northern Ireland have run out of Irish passport application forms ahead of Brexit, Sinn Fein Senator Niall O Donnghaile has said. Senator O Donnghaile said that the shortage shows the need for an Irish passport office to be opened in Northern Ireland.
  • Official Passport Office figures showed than more than 84,000 people from Northern Ireland made applications in 2018, a 2% increase from the previous year. Officials predict that up to 300,000 additional passports applications could be made if the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal scenario and 100 extra staff may be need in the Republic to cope with the demand.


  1. Visa-free travel sees big increase in UAE visitors to Ireland”, Arabian Business, February 3, 2019
  • Visitor numbers to Ireland from the UAE have soared 63.5% in the past year, according to Dnata Travel. Ireland introduced visa-free travel for Emiratis to Ireland in early 2018, leading to a significant increase in tourists.
  • The Dubai-based travel firm – a subsidiary of Emirates Group - said Dublin was the most popular destination for GCC travellers to stay, showing an 80% increase in room night bookings, while counties Cork, Galway and Kerry have also shown growth in visitor numbers. New destinations with increased levels of interest in 2018 included Kilkenny, Donegal and Limerick.
  • Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said visa-free travel was a historic step for Ireland-Emirati relations. “The draw of Ireland for GCC travellers was undeniable last year, and we’re proud to welcome more visitors to our country every year,” he said.




  1. Russia must adopt short-term visa-free entry to promote tourism while ensuring security – Putin”, TASS, February 6, 2019
  • Short-term visa-free entry for foreigners and electronic visas is the way to go for Russia if it wants to become a tourist haven, Vladimir Putin said, but warned that it shouldn’t be done at the expense of security. “We’re not going to achieve anything through bans in tourism or any other areas,” the Russia president said at the Business Russia forum in Moscow.
  • Tourists, who arrive on cruise ships to Saint Petersburg, are able to stay in the city for three days without a visa and “this practice must be generalized and expanded” throughout Russia, he said, especially singling out the Far East. “We must also switch to a wider use of electronic visas. It’s obvious.”


  1. Latin America can become fully visa-free for Russians”, TASS, February 8, 2019
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry continues negotiations on removing visa restrictions with Latin American countries, agreements with eight of the 33 countries are yet to be reached, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Latin American Department Alexander Shchetinin told TASS.
  • The agreements with three countries, specifically, Costa Rica, Suriname and the Dominican Republic, have been signed, but have not entered into force yet, Shchetinin added.


United Kingdom


  1. Thousands of British Jews apply for German citizenship ahead of Brexit”, Jewish News, January 29, 2019
  • Thousands of British Jews, many the descendants of Holocaust victims, have applied for German citizenship as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. Britons holding dual citizenship from an EU country like Germany will retain the privilege of free movement and work across the soon-to-be 27-nation bloc.
  • [There has been] more than 3,380 requests that the German embassy in London has received since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. In comparison, only around 20 such requests were made annually in the years before Brexit.
  • Article 116 of the German Constitution allows the descendants of people persecuted by the Nazis to regain the citizenship that was removed between 1933 and 1945.


  1. Jack Guy, “EU offers Britons visa-free travel for short trips, if UK reciprocates”, CNN, February 1, 2019
  • The European Union plans to allow UK citizens visa-free travel after Brexit if they are on a short trip.
  • In a statement, the European Council said it will start negotiations with the European Parliament to pass the legislation. It would apply to British citizens for a period of 90-180 days traveling to any of the 26 countries with open borders, known as the Schengen Area. The council stipulates that "visa exemption is granted on condition of reciprocity."
  • However, the European Commission has also confirmed that as of 2021, UK visitors to the EU will have to pay €7 (about $8) for the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS), which can be bought online ahead of travel. This will last for three years and ensure smooth entry at EU borders and airports, similar to the current ESTA scheme that many tourists use to travel to the United States.






  1. Fiji Running out of Passports”, Radio New Zealand, February 7, 2019
  • A passport shortage in Fiji is preventing the Immigration Department from issuing the travel document. But the department's director, Nemani Vuniwaqa, has assured Fiji travellers they will not be affected. Mr Vuniwaqa said passports due to expire would be revalidated.
  • With effect from today, all passport applications will be scrutinised whereby for those requesting renewals - if we see that the condition of the passport is still in a good condition - visa pages still available - these individuals or these applicants will go through the endorsement of the same passports for another 10 years."


  1. Maggie Boyle, “Fiji signs visa free agreement with Croatia”, FBC News, February 9, 2019
  • The agreement allows Fijians and Croatian nationals to travel, transit through or stay in both Fiji and Croatia territories without a visa for up to three months.
  • With formal diplomatic relations having been established between the two countries in 1997, the visa waiver agreement introduces a much-needed mechanism to strengthen relations between Fiji and Croatia.




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