(eTN) – Anger and frustration is marking the publication of news that an application for a visa to the United States is set to go up again effective June 4, with some categories now costing nearly US$400. Undisclosed sources from the American Embassy quoted in the local media spoke of the sharply risen cost of processing a visa, meeting the latest security standards and being machine readable, a notion swiftly rejected by travel professionals who often assist their clients buying tickets from their agencies in accessing the now mandatory online applications for travelers.
This, it was learned, from usually well-informed and closely-involved sources, made a particular impact on aged travelers from upcountry who in the past for instance traveled with their family to witness graduation ceremonies as villagers – often in the past part of such traveling parties – do not have easy access to web facilities nor find the funds easily to pay, in addition to ticket and accommodation cost, for the new visa fees.
Calls have subsequently emerged to raise fees in turn for American citizens coming to Uganda, who in stark contrast only have to present a filled landing card, pay what is often described as a pure “entrance fee” of US$50 and are then admitted into the country without the 40+ percent rejection rate Ugandans suffer when applying for entry to the United States.
That, however, also drew criticism from other sources in the tourism industry, one of whom said: “We need visitors from abroad more than they need us, that is clear, so our fellow Ugandans wanting to travel to the US just have to cough up the extra money. I go there at times to promote tourism, and, yes, now it costs me even more than before. But this is a power game, we need them more than they need us nowadays, so we have no option but to pay, and yes, in comparison, they pay peanuts to get their documents stamped at the airport. They don’t even need to apply in advance, which to be honest, is violating the reciprocity requirements under diplomatic agreements. But then there is a Kiswahili saying of ‘beggars can’t be choosers,’ and here it is so true. But between me and you, it smacks of discrimination and exploitation and they know it here at the American embassy.”