- Citizens of Uzbekistan no longer have to apply for an exit visa to travel outside the CIS zone.
- Uzbekistan citizens can now apply for new biometric passports.
- New passports will be valid for 10 years for adult applicants over the age of 16 years
It has taken over 20 years for Uzbekistan to free itself from the vestiges of its Soviet past. One of the latest changes has been the abolishment of the Exit Visa Policy. Read on to find out more.
What Is Uzbekistan Exit Visa?
The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 but some of the practices established by them are being followed even today. Uzbekistan’s exit visa policy was one such practice.
According to this visa policy, an Uzbek citizen wanting to travel outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) needed an exit authorization sticker by the Interior Ministry’s visa and registration department. It is only now, over 20 years later that this policy has been abolished.
Uzbekistan Exit Visa – Why Was The Change Needed?
Uzbekistan was the only former Soviet state to retain the exit visa system. This was maintained as a way for the government to keep tabs on Uzbek citizens. According to human rights activists, the system was used on many occasions to restrict the movement of journalists and citizens with political agendas.
If an individual’s request for an exit visa was denied, he or she could not leave the CIS area. The penalty for traveling outside the CIS zone without an exit visa ranged from a monetary fine to imprisonment for 10 years. Also, the process of obtaining an exit visa was very lengthy, complicated and expensive.
Timeline For The Abolishing Uzbekistan Exit Visa
One of the first recommendations for the abolishment of the exit visa policy was made in October 2017 as part of a report by the Human Rights Watch. As a result of the report, President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree abolishing the exit visa policy and ushering in biometric passports for Uzbek citizens. The policy was to be put in place by January 2019.
In August 2018, a new set of rules was drafted and published by the government on abolishing this policy. According to the new policy, existing passports will be valid until 2021. Other Uzbek citizens may apply for fresh passports.
These are biometric passports. If the applicant is older than 16 years at the time of application, the passport will be valid for 10 years. For children between the age of 1 to 15 years, a passport will be valid for 5 years. Passports issued to newborn infants will be valid only for 2 years.
Effect Of Abolishing The Uzbekistan Exit Visa
Abolishing the Uzbekistan exit visa will make it easier for Uzbek nationals to move out of Uzbekistan. They can now look for jobs abroad. This has the potential of improving Uzbekistan’s economy as many people who work outside the country send money to their families back home.